Like it or not, Margaret Thatcher was a democrat

Socialism is a weapon – the fiercest, I dare say, that humanism has. The friendship between people can be pretty strong but inequality fragments it; nothing cuts through a society’s common honesty and decency than the greed that shits at poverty. Without a fair playing-field good sportsmanship becomes hopelessly fantastic.

And it was Thatcher’s obsession with finance that dissipated whatever ghost of this we had. The economic power in Britain was robbed from working class communities, and it was fed to the city whose now unabashed bankers litter what seems like a perpetually recessive nation. Against this it would be not only inhuman but unhistorical not to be touched by the lost culture romanticised by Owen Jones:

The old industries were the beating hearts of the communities they sustained. Most local people had worked in similar jobs and had done so for generations. And of course the unions, whatever their faults and limitations, had given the workers in these communities strength, solidarity and a sense of power. All of this had sustained a feeling of belonging, of pride in a shared working-class experience.

The unionist chains Thatcher cast off were replaced with the prickly vines of neoliberalism – we musn’t forget it. I suspect that Hitchens was probably correct to point out that she will be remembered as “an episode in Britain’s decline rather than the answer to it”.  She chose to smother the unions rather than treat their corruption.

But Thatcherism replaced one conservatism with another, one whose authority was bolstered by its pleas to the individual and the family. This is not tyranny. The Iron Lady consistently won large majorities in Parliament, and it would be patronising – insulting – to pretend that her supporters were blind stooges spoken to in a language they couldn’t understand. Working class voters were no less likely to vote Conservative in ’83 and ’87 than anyone else; they saw, in her language, a chance to dismantle the chains with which old conservatism had suffocated their mobility. If we’re going to be intellectually serious and honest about the legacy of Thatcher then we have see her as a a democrat. No parliamentarian works alone for she never exists in a vacuum.

The denial of this is invitation of flippancy. Criticise the policies, certainly; but an elderly lady having a stroke is not something to celebrate. Nothing makes the humanist purpose of socialism so morally redundant. So these people disgust me:


11 Comments on “Like it or not, Margaret Thatcher was a democrat”

  1. mrhugo2013 says:

    Very well written post! I enjoyed reading that.

  2. I absolutely agree with you about those people at the end. Policies and people are two separate things. Death is never something to celebrate.

  3. lazybill says:

    Very good, captures her legacy precisely for which a few are wallowing in the benefits but many are treading through the mire. I agree with your final sentiment.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for that – appreciated. I think that line of yours sums it up wonderfully, actually. (Or perhaps not wonderfully! But blearily accurate.)

  4. Great post.

    To me, Ms. Thatcher saved a country from near economic collapse. This aspect is well known. So it is really a moot point to debate what is it that led to her name being associated with an “ism”. What is more relevant is to determine what it is that fuels anger in many folks to rejoice at ‘ The Bitch is dead”.


    • Mark says:

      Thanks for that – I do agree with your sentiments. Although I’ve my many reservations about her policies it does seem fruitless to pretend that it was all her doing; and even if it were, it does not deserve the appallingly visceral jubilation at her death. That’s not decent.

  5. Gregoryno6 says:

    Thanks for you comment on my piece about Mrs T. We’re on opposite sides of the fence politically I guess, but it’s good to hear someone on the left denouncing this crass celebration.

  6. Good blog, but don’t entirely agree that we should not say things about someone when they are dead that we would say when they were alive. Gaddaffi didn’t become a saint upon death, Saddam was still a mass murderer of his own people after he had a noose around his neck and Bin Laden didn’t turn into Mr. nice guy at the bottom of the ocean. I totally agree that a funeral is no place to speak out or protest, but other than that she is still as divisive in death as she was in life and no doubt will continue to be for decades.

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