Thatcher’s dead. Now it’s up to us.

April 13, 2013 12:50 pm

thatcher party George Square in GlasgowSince Margaret Thatcher’s death, there have been plenty of people around the country celebrating. At impromptu parties in Glasgow and London, on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and on iPods from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, people have been rejoicing that Thatcher is no more. Respect MP George Galloway made reference to the Elvis Costello song ‘Tramp the Dirt Down’, in which Costello expresses his desire to outlive Thatcher so that he can stand on her grave and ‘tramp the dirt down’. At the time of writing, the infamous Wizard of Oz song ‘Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead’ is, thanks to a Facebook campaign, well on its way to being in this week’s top 3 singles – if not number 1. Undoubtedly, there are people young and old all over these islands quite happy to celebrate the demise of the UK’s first and as yet only female Prime Minister, and indeed, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century.

I was raised in an old mining community. My father was a fitter in the local mine, and my grandfather before him was one of its carpenters. My grandmother has plenty of stories about what life was like for them during the miners’ strike. The community in which I was raised is so dreadfully deprived, and unemployment is rife; that started when the pit closed. People know that. I know that.

We hate what Mrs Thatcher did. Not just the mines, but all the rest of it too. The dismantling of the welfare state. The privatisation. The neglect of South Wales and other parts of the UK in favour of the already-affluent South East of England. The war. The deregulation of the financial sector.

It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach that one person could ever do so much to decimate my community – my country.

But – and this is important, so pay attention – I’m not one of the people dancing in Glasgow or London. I’m not tweeting things like ‘#nowthatchersdead I can rejoice!’ I’m not downloading Tramp the Dirt Down or Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.

To the people doing those things, I have one question: is the world a better place now that Thatcher’s dead?

I don’t think it is. How could it be? How could the world all of a sudden be a better place now that a frail old lady who could barely remember her own name is dead?

To all those people celebrating Thatcher’s death, hear this:

Your energy would be much better spent not celebrating the death of a fellow human being (albeit a human being whose actions and beliefs you despise), not engaging in tasteless parties and tweetfests, but looking at yourselves, and your communities, and considering exactly what you might be able to do to ensure that Thatcherism is dead. Because, let’s face it, for all Thatcher did, she hasn’t been the enemy for years. Her legacy is the enemy. Even now that Thatcher herself is dead, her ideology is still with us, and it’s still crippling our communities.

Do you still have reason to dance?

People are looking at you, thinking how tactless you’re being, and they’re pitying Thatcher. They’re pitying her, and they’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t that bad. Is that what you want?

No, it isn’t. You – we –  need people to remember that her legacy is what’s repressing us to this day. We need people to show restraint at the fact that a little old granny has died, and to keep their dignity while her family, friends, and followers mourn her loss, and then we need people to look to the future.

What use is there for us to wallow in the 1980s? We have anger, yes, and we have a choice: do we turn our anger into pointless bitterness, or do we turn it into hope?

thatcher funeral

I, for one, don’t want the community in which I was raised to be bitter. I don’t want us going on and on for years about how much we despise Thatcher and what she did to us and our forefathers.

I want us to acknowledge that we can’t turn the clock back, but we can move on, and if we all pull together, we can defeat Thatcherism.

We can turn something so shockingly negative as Margaret Thatcher’s legacy into something as stunningly positive as strong, fair, thriving communities all over these islands.

As opposers of Thatcherism, that is our duty. We can either do that, or we can waste our time dancing on an old lady’s grave.

I know what I’ll being doing. Now it’s up to you.

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  • I think those who oppose and were hurt by Thatchers policies have a right to protest and oppose her state funded funeral. Even on the basis of being the first woman PM, she should not be celebrated. She climbed up the ladder, breaking the rungs on the way. However, you’re right. People get too hooked up on the primal emotion of vengence; “you wronged me, I’ll get you back”. Celebrations over her death are as wrong as her comments of “Rejoice! Rejoice” about a battle victory in the Falklands. We should however use her death, and the reflection on her life to put into context the current governments extreme actions.

  • Charlie B-L

    Whilst I disagree with your overall view point on Thatcher (I think, in many ways she was an excellent Prime Minister and managed to bring the country as a whole from being in a terrible state to being in a mini boom – although regrettably there were a few minorities who took a blow because of these policies and I can, therefore, understand their disillusionment of her policies), I both admire and understand your viewpoint and consider it as completely valid. If we all agreed on such things then there would be no such thing as politics and I think what you say has a lot of truth in it.

    However, what I really like about this article is that despite your opposition to Thatcherism, you still acknowledge that to celebrate the death of an old frail lady (who most of the country voted into power three times successively so they must have supported some of her policies!) is utterly barbaric and wrong. To the above comment (Stephen), imagine being that person’s family and seeing your mother’s death celebrated on television as if Hitler or Stalin had just been killed.

    She simply did what she thought was right for the country, and there are many strong arguments to suggest she succeeded (not saying they are right but they exist.) Someone who worked hard their whole working life for public cause should not recieve this treatment. I think it is utterly atrocious and frankly if the entire protesting branch of hooligans at her funeral get charged down by the police and killed on the spot then, whilst I won’t celebrate, I certainly won’t feel remorseful either.

    Ok that was a little extreme, but some people in this country really need to learn respect. An old frail lady has died – contest her politics and current politics by all means, but don’t go publicly celebrating her death and protesting at her funeral. It really does make me sick.

    • Tom E.

      I respectfully disagree. Naturally, the celebrations can do absolutely nothing to hurt Margaret Thatcher, and the fact that she, like all people, turned frail in old age does not make her guilt-free. Having your death celebrated is a harsh but technically harmless punishment, whereas Margaret Thatcher implemented policies that were not harmless – in fact they harmed quite a lot of people. I have not celebrated her death, only because it strikes me as a little morbid, but I understand why other people have. It’s like in ‘A Christmas Carol’, when Scrooge sees how people would react to his death – Bob Cratchet shows real feeling, even though Scrooge was wicked, because Bob is a kind human being, but other people are not so forgiving. This is that same situation on a much larger scale.

      • Tom E.

        extra note: Not to parallel myself with an idealistic character like Bob Cratchet – I show no such feeling.

        • John Sackville

          To compare M. Thatcher to Scrooge really is quite short sighted… The woman recovered an economy after years of socialist abuse, she implemented policies that continue to make us tens of BILLIONS of pounds every year as a country. She sped up a process that was well under way before she came in of putting the mines out of business and she managed to take the country back from being completely ruled and ruined by the trade unions. Yes people unfortunately lost her jobs. But thanks to her there were other jobs for them to apply to, if things had continued without her, the mines would have closed anyway and those people wouldn’t have had a hope in hell of getting another job. Further to this, she was VOTED democratically into power 3 times in a row, that means she was the most popular at the time throughout the country, she wasn’t a dictator or a person of great wealth abusing their privilege, she was a democratically chosen leader (and for the most part a bloody good one).

          She also stopped Britain from becoming completely absorbed by the EU which would have ended up as a disaster, and didn’t waste time tiptoeing around them, she was strong with what she believed and delivered results. She left us with a boom. She isn’t to blame for what happened to the banks almost twenty years later, the fact that regulation slacked wasn’t anything to do with her. And by the way, as a side note it is worth pointing out that regulation with banks is now tougher and tighter than it has even been… (and no i am not a banker).

          Yes a few communities suffered, but they were going to suffer anyway – what did you want her to do? Pay them for life? There were plenty of other jobs going, yes it was tough for them, but life is tough – make your own way in the world, don’t rely on others to hand everything to you on a platter.

          The only celebrating that should have happened, was celebrating a great lady’s life. She did amazing things, not least of which was eve becoming PM in a male dominated political society. I can assure you the country would be a lot worse off now if it wasn’t for her (unless of course the socialists had driven it so far into the ground that socialism never resurfaced again!).

          That’s my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree – politics is split after all but one thing I think you are 100% wrong about is that “because she is dead it won’t affect her” that people are celebrating. No it won’t, but what about her family and her friends? Maybe if your parents died and everyone through a party you might be a little upset? She was voted into power to serve her country in the way she thought best, she did that. It was a career. She retired. She was a human. To celebrate her death was disgusting and barbaric and inexcusable.

  • ChrisRobinson

    If Thatcher was so great, how come her own party removed her from office?

  • Scargill did not starve alongside the miners. Enough said.

  • ChrisRobinson

    No. Scargill did not ‘starve alongside the miners’. He was a union official, not himself on strike. As Churchill didn’t live under rations or spill any of his own blood you could compare the two. Does this deny the effort and courage of those who fought in the war or those who stood up to Thatcherism? Clearly not. Myself, I believe ALL elected union officials should only receive the average wages of the people they represent as, indeed, MPs should and…er…alcoholic, cigar-smoking Tory wartime prime ministers, for instance.

    • John Esham.

      Actually in WW1 Churchill was put in a POW in South Africa. He managed to somewhat heroically escape and was celebrated as a hero in Britain for what he did. To say he didn’t shed blood and eat rations is pretty unfair, those POWs were hardly comfortable.

      • John Esham

        Apologies – it was the Second Boer War, not WW1.

  • Maria

    She was a stupid Capitalist like the rest of those conservatives. Our society is messed up because of these self-absorbed leaders. Socialism all the way! Thank God Thatcher’s gone!

    • John Esham

      How incredibly ignorant.

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