Tuesday, 9 April 2013
It would seem to be impossible to hold an objective opinion about this late ex-Prime Minister. There would appear no room for any middle ground: one either loves her or hates her. Just to make my own standpoint clear for anyone not a regular follower of this blog; I am someone who falls roughly into the category of the libertarian left with an emphasis on the left. In other words, a socialist.
But it isn't that simple. When our recently retired member of Parliament Chris Mullin first arrived in Sunderland in the mid-80's I considered him a good guy but a little too much on the left compared to my views. By the time retired, I had moved from a central position to the left of centre-left (if that description actually means anything) while he was more to the right of centre-left. Confusing, isn't it? Oh, and when I retired I also had to resign from my position as departmental union steward which I'd been for the previous five years.
There's no question that, as she believed, for the greater good of the country she destroyed entire communities. I suspect that wasn't her specific intention but that was just one of the many prices the British people paid in her quest to modernise Britain and put it on a sound economic footing. Unfortunately she threw the baby out with the bathwater. What she did to the mining community was far worse than even the demagogic leader of the Nation Union of Mineworkers Arthur Scargill feared.
While always a supporter of unions throughout my working life, I did believe that in the 70's they had grown too powerful to such an extent they could dictate the way the economy went. Closed shops were wrong because it is unfair to force an individual to join. But without it... Thatcher castrated the unions and her successors continued, with ever restrictive legislation, to hack at the body of unionism which was weakened further by fewer and fewer people joining. I found out just recently that in the nearly five years since I left, Sunderland libraries has not had one union representative, no-one to speak up for them, to defend the interests of the individual worker.
The Thatcher era transformed Britain's economy from one dependent on manufacturing to one based on service industries with a more flexible working approach. From the point of view of workers' rights this is not necessarily a good thing, though it does have its advantages.
There are many justifiable reasons for many people to detest Thatcher and the legacy she left behind. Nevertheless no-one can argue that what she did she did from conviction that it was the right thing for this country. She was, and this is something rare these days, a conviction politician. There are many things she can be hated for but does she deserve the demonisation accorded to her by so many people?
For example, because she opposed sanctions on South Africa she was labelled as being pro-apartheit. This is very far from the truth. She opposed sanctions because she believed they simply didn't work and that it was the wrong approach to force concessions from the SA government to the black majority. Behind the scenes she worked to bring about the end to apartheit, to legalise the ANC and to free Nelson Mandela. Since his release Mandela has been open about his respect for and gratitude to Thatcher, not just for what she did to help change in South Africa but also on a personal level.
And then, of course, we have the war against Argentina over the Falklands. Those opposing the war argue she went into it for self-aggrandisement and as a vote-winner at the next election. Personally I have trouble accepting this. The Argentine government sent troops to take over islands which have been British for over a hundred and fifty years and whose own claims to legitimacy of rule over the islands are dubious at best. Thatcher decided that this wouldn't do, sent the task force half a world away to Argentina's back yard and they won. Many forget the huge sense of national pride engendered at the time.
I remember at the time listening on the radio every morning of reports from the conflict -this was before breakfast TV, if you can imagine such a thing- and being fascinated by it all, by every victory and every disaster.
This brief account of mine is obviously superficial. It has to be. There are many areas I'm not qualified to write about and have no intention of trying. I am writing to put in perspective my own reaction and the reaction of others to her death. I'm as repelled by the overblown tributes from the right as exemplified by the Daily Mail as I am by those opposite reactions of the hard left and the morons who are literally dancing on her grave. They are celebrating the death of an old woman who had been ill for some time and this leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
I have no doubt that Margaret Thatcher was a great British Prime Minister. Whether or not she was a good one will be for history to decide.
Barry Spence commented:
A pretty excellent presentation of a very balanced rundown on Thatcher - almost all of which I find I agree with you on.
Why are you bothered about meaningless labels for yourself (and Chris Mullin) involving pointless and very variable concepts of left, right and centre? Depending who runs the show, definitions change monthly so as to eliminate all sense and reason from pigeonholing. During Thatcher's spell in charge, her mocking schoolboy minions developed a Norman Tebbit expression into a supposedly effective label. ANYONE not 100% behind Her Ladyship was "a raving leftie loony", and that was repeated to the stage of terminal over-use. As a label, it actually embraced half or more of HER party's "centre" Tories, yet New Labout branded those very same Tories as "Right wing tyrants"!
Lord Tebbit made a serious error of historical fact the other day. He correctly said that - with one exception - Blair reversed NONE of the changes Thatcher had made (denationalisation, sell offs, council house buying, as a start). He named that one exception as the Poll Tax, omitting the fact that Blair didn't do anything about that either - it had already been scrapped by Tebbit's pal Hesletine some time before Blair got in!
Some media material has been questionable: George Galloway as a start - how ironic is RESPECT for the name of a party when he shows zero of it but buckets of hatred and contempt? HE stated that she called Mandela "A terrorist; I was there and I saw her mouth move". It turns out that she actually said that SOME of the ANC were terrorists but named nobody. My complaint is not about his lies - I just object to the way papers repeat these as if they had to be true.
She destroyed manufacturing industry but personally fought to get Nissan here.
She was a devoted pal of Pinochet the butcher, presumably admiring his proven remedies for removing communism?
She never learned the difference between "socialism" and "communism", always presenting them as the same thing. I presume that Germany's famous raving leftie loonies were Hitler and his National SOCIALIST Party, and Stalin's "Soviet SOCIALIST Republics" was politically identical in her tiny mind. She commented on the busy bulldozers ripping the Berlin Wall down as "the end of socialist" - no, you ignorant bitch - it was the end of Russian-style communism!
She may have been wrong (only in MY opinion) over several things, but I admire her determination and sincere confidence in her own beliefs. She genuinely acted to make needed change for the better - "better" in her opinion, that is.
She said, "There is no such thing as 'society'", but her worshipper Cameron fantasised about a "big" version of something that doesn't exist - or is he contradicting her?
As far as being an old woman who died goes, these dancing hypocrites should have justifiably worked the hate out of their obsessed minds way back when the gutless conspirators disposed of her. For over 20 years, she had no direct effect to do good or bad and was well and truly politically dead. Now that the actual person has died, I find it very distasteful that many revel in that as a cause of celebration - as if her dying changes anything?
I read yesterday - do not mock METRO - that the illiterate cretins who twattytwitter, and find labelling needs no spaces between words, were alarmed that the singer Cher had died. They understood a string of unpunctuated letters "nowthatchersdead" as "Now that Cher's Dead" - I have no sympathy for them at all. LEARN ENGLISH, then we'll all understand it!
And finally, I will let HER have the last word. You must allow for her maybe being in whatever stage of Altzheimer's, or she may have been more astute than most When asked about her greatest acheivement, she answered. "Tony Blair".
I look forward especially to SPIKED!
George "Xenophobe" Grovellaway, leader of The Contempt Party