Wednesday, 17 April 2013


What I said about this recently, I stand by every word of it. Most likely, we'd have still had some form of Thatcherism without Thatcher, we just wouldn't have called it Thatcherism. But that doesn't mean that, for those of us who lived through the Eighties, today isn't something to celebrate.

Whether someone else would have done it is in many ways akin to arguing “if I didn't sell heroin to schoolkids, someone else would.” Or arms to dictators... no, wait, that was her son. Thatcher should still be held responsible for her appalling actions. Under the guise of extending “individual freedom”, her policies exacerbated the class divide to the point where the wealth gap is wider than ever and social mobility is virtually a thing of the past. Once it was the case on Albion's shore that you could fall ill, get old or lose your job without having to worry about the consequences too much. No longer.

She talked about “rolling back the frontiers of the state”, but these were oddly mapped frontiers where an NHS hospital was an example of state control while a group of riot cops attacking a picket line was not. Her 'deregulation' of finance-capital, continued by her mimicking successors, led to the worst recession in post-war history - the one we're now living through. And while the emphasis should be on her political legacy, if we're being pulled into describing her as a person she was a loathsome, racist, homophobic, self-righteous bully.

But more to the point, I'm joining in precisely because so many people have told me not to. All the wrong people have said it's the wrong thing to do – making it the right thing to do by definition. Simples, really.

Over at Mike Taylor's place, in the comments section someone called Jdege insists “her opponents didn’t have rational arguments.” Of course this individual is either trolling or being imbecilic. (It scarcely matters which). But such comments act as an outlier for right-wing opinion, in the same way the Daily Mail's insistence Thatcher's state-funeral-in-all-but-name is part of a leftist plot because it's not an actual state funeral (apart from all the ways in which it is).

It's a bit like the war on Iraq. Before the war, I was told numerous times there was no point going on about this now, as war hadn't even begun. As soon as it started, the same people told me now was not the time to criticise, not now we were at war.

It's a bit like strikes. The right won't come out and say they're flat-out against them. Instead they always insist “now is not the time for strikes”, staying strangely quiet on the subject of when that mysterious time might actually arrive.

When they say “this is not the time” the invisible corollary is “and it never will be. At least not if we get our way.”

As Professor Nicholas Till argued in a recent letter to the Guardian, this is “evidence, if evidence were needed, that the neoliberal capitalist ideology that she forced upon Britain has now been accepted as the official ideology of the British state. The message it sends so clearly is that neoliberal capitalism transcends politics: it is the natural and 'correct' state of affairs.”

A similar trick was pulled in America after Reagan popped it. Though even more than Reagan, Thatcher proved to be a divisive figure even within her own party. After she'd been ousted, for the first time in her life she provided a useful service by constantly criticising the current leadership. (As the old saying goes, “with enemies like this, who needs friends?”)

Cameron's initial tactic was to draw a line under Thatcher and portray himself more as a successor to Blair. (His 'social inclusion' stance dubbed 'hug a hoodie' by cynics. Or by anybody else, for that matter.) All of which makes it even more vital for them to try and perform this sancification. All that unfortunate truth business must be buried under the notion that she's a symbol of national unity.

I was against her policies then and I'm against them now. To those who claim we're crowing over the death of an old woman, I say wait until the next old woman dies of a stroke and see if we react the same way. To those who accuse us of “bad taste,” Thatcher denied welfare payments for strking miners' funerals. That's not exactly in the best possible taste.

How do I feel about the death of Margaret Thatcher? I feel this...

Inevitably, Blair was one of those most loudly insisting no-one should dare criticise her. Is it too early to start picking our song for him? Is there anywhere in 'Wizard of Oz' where they burst into something like 'Shut Up, You Sanctimonious Lying Little Shit'?

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