Like it or not, Margaret Thatcher was a democratPosted: April 9, 2013 | |
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: