Margaret Thatcher dead popped up on my Facebook news feed last week and I had a strange sensation. I was completely bereft of any excitement or sorrow, I was ambivalent I suppose. The death of Margaret Thatcher was a bit of a non-event emotionally. Although, obviously, it was a massive, big fat deal all across the world.
Many friends clearly got a lot of emotional pleasure from a huge Margaret Thatcher is dead schadenfreude rush. The promises of dancing on the grave celebration was over the top and non-stop. But I just didn’t and don’t share this feeling of joy or relief or whatever it actually is.
Margaret Thatcher Dead but…
I’m not dancing. How can this be? For years, like the majority of my friends and acquaintances I hated her and her government’s cruel, vicious policies. They ran the country into the ground, huge unemployment, negative equity and repossessions the outcome. Yuppies and Spitting Image, miners strikes, hunger strikes and dirty protests. Falklands and the ANC. Battle of the Beanfield! I don’t remember any boom, just selling off of the family silver.
With an unapologetic Thatcher as leader, she was the natural outlet for the anger and frustration. She was a major player in my growing up. If in 1984 the newspaper headline was MARGARET THATCHER DEAD I would’ve been dancing.
But, of course, that would have been different. In 1984, she WAS the enemy and as the common people were at war (literally in Ireland and almost so with the miners) her death would be like an end to an era. In 2013, she has been out of power for over twenty years and suffering with dementia or Alzheimers for the last few at least. A little old lady and nothing more.
This is partly why Margaret Thatcher Dead schadenfreude has limited impact for me. The other important reason is that the current Tory led government and waging another war and Thatcher dying does nothing to relieve it. In fact, it’s almost as if Maggie Thatcher Dead is her last throw of the dice (interestingly, it seems that Stuart Lee agrees). With attention diverted to her death, the tasteless or otherwise criticism/rewriting of history, the recalling of parliament and state sponsored funeral, she is helping Cameron, Osbourne, Gove etc. The previous enemy has gone, the current one is kicking the shit out of the poor right now! Although Glenda Jackson did manage to oppose the rewriting of her legacy.
And that’s where the anger, frustration and hatred should be directed. There is no victory, there is nothing to celebrate. Unless little old ladies with dementia dying floats your boat…
Thatcher and Apartheid
Over the course of the week, I’ve revisited so much of the vile, truly evil stuff that was done under her watch. But, perhaps one thing that sums up how out of touch Thatcher was to the likes of me and my 80s peers was Nelson Mandela. She labelled him and the ANC terrorists. Nelson Mandela is a living hero to me a true giant among men, inspirational, wise and completely without bitterness despite being unjustly locked up for 27 years or whatever.
It’s so obvious to anyone who takes a moment to consider it, apartheid is wrong. It’s vile and unjust in such a major way. Unforgivable evil. But Thatcher took the side of the South African government and once more the side of evil, the wrong side.
Although this is not strictly true. She did call the good guys terrorists, that’s true. But the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is no more than a matter of opinion but her’s was wrong. Later on she did, in fact, side against apartheid and talked of getting rid of it. After a camp David summit with Reagan in xxxx she said
But the truth was, she was unwilling to go the whole hog and really turn the pressure up against South Africa. Harder sanctions against their evil government may have meant earlier release for Mandela and earlier democracy in South Africa.
Thatcher Out Mandela Out
There used to be some graffiti on the Railway bridge on Brighton Road in Balsall Heath. It was there for years. THATCHER OUT MANDELA OUT! And when eventually Mandela was released and South Africa finally reached democracy a tick next his name was added. I’ve talked about whether one was added when Thatcher was ousted but we can’t be sure. Anyone remember?
The picture here is a mocked up one from the fabulous Brett Wilde, I couldn’t get hold of an actual picture of it and would love to see one. I remember it differently to Brett, I remember it being thick, crude letters, in white on a charcoal grey background. It summed up a lot about that time.
This week has been a rollercoaster back through time. Countless reviews of the truly evil stuff she and her government implemented, however, despite the Margaret Thatcher Dead tweets and updates, I’m not dancing. There is no victory and there is nothing to celebrate. Hopefully, it sparks some life into the opposition because if there is none, the current evil will prevail. Cameron and his cronies will use this, it will be her last throw of the dice.
And given the incompetence, arrogance and lack of empathy of the current Tory led government, we will be in even bigger trouble than we were back then and already are now!
It’s a weird feeling this Margaret Thatcher Dead but I’m not dancing. A bit like no longer having a habit, almost as if there’s something not quite right…