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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