Monday, 8 April 2013

We represent the Lollipop Guild, and we are pissed.

The wicked old witch at last is dead! Or at least that was the sentiment held by half of my facebook this morning. The other half were split between 'Yeah she wasn't great but don't speak ill of the dead' and 'How dare you! She was a great politician/feminist icon/saviour of this, Our Great Britain!'. Some people got quite impassioned and threatened to quit facebook/this country/the human race if people didn't stop being so mean.

Glenn Greenwald said it best in The Guardian 'That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power.' He hits it bang on the head, rather like a small farmhouse that has been swept up by a tornado; if you knew her her personally or particularly admired her then by all means grieve. Feel free to feel empathise with her family and friends that she left behind; death is the great equaliser. 

However, it is not your place to chastise those who want to celebrate the end of a woman who has defined our politics for nearly a third of a century. Silencing detractors in the name of 'respect' allows the last word to go only to her admirers, effectively rewriting history. I was born the year she resigned; my opinions on her come to me by word of mouth, from my parents, from journalists, from history books. Allowing her legacy to be dominated by her supporters and protegees sends the message that she has somehow become an accepted and admired figure in British politics, rather than the mother of the greatest political challenges facing our society today.

She ripped the heart out of this country, turned neighbour against neighbour, destroyed communities, created economic segregation and taught a generation the value of the individual over the needs of society. To quote the Wizard of Oz 'This is a day of independence, for all the munchkins and their descendants!'. 

Those people posting insensitive jokes all over your facebook are angry and frustrated. We are seeing a resurgence of Thatcherism in this country; had she died even five years ago I imagine the level of vitriol would have been much less and expressed mainly by hardcore lefties. Now we are seeing her policies getting into their second wind; the dismantling of the welfare state, proposed privatisation of the NHS, the demonisation of the working classes, tuition fees (yep, that was her idea, waaaay back in the sepia toned seventies) and the deregulation of financial services, leading to the recession.

She is the closest we have had in recent memory to a despot, pursuing a self-serving ideology at great expense to the people on the receiving end. The only progressive thing about Lady Thatcher was the fact that she was a powerful woman. She did nothing else for women in the eleven years she was in power; she is the exception that proves the rule.

This is a cathartic moment in current politics; when we remember the inglorious past and say: never again. This is a chance to commit to exorcising the ghost of the most proudly regressive Prime Minister of the past fifty years. A chance to recognise what is important to us in our society and start to rid ourselves of Cameron and Gove and the rest of the flying monkeys who are dragging us back to the 80s. It is time to click our ruby heels three times and take the first step towards building the kind of society we can be proud of.

And if some people want to tip-tap those ruby heels over her metaphorical grave? Let them. She trampled all over this country in hobnailed boots; as you sow, so shall ye reap. And boy, did she sow. 

2 comments:

  1. The nicest thing we could do is say:

    "She has gone and perrish with her the poison politics she believed in"

    Sadly though all we have had since is accolytes of her and even if Scamerloon is ousted Morribund is no better.

    It is time for a new social contract between the state and people One that will protect people against the excesses of capitalism

    R

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