She is finally dead, and to be honest is not like I thought it would be.
Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher died, in comfort, surrounded not by family but by people paid to care for her. On 08 April 2013 she entered immortality.
I am choosing ‘she entered immortality’ with care as it is a line from ‘Evita’. In a cold Buenos Aires cinema the film slowly winds to a stop and a booming voice announces:
It is my sad duty to inform you that Eva Peron, spiritual leader of the nation, entered immortality at 20:25 today.
Their lives having passing images of each other, both were operating in a ‘mans world’ both took on impossible odds, and both held power, both engendered a mythology about their lives, but in so many other ways they are the antithesis of each other. The final similarity is how the truth will lie buried with them, surrounded by the myth.
A couple of weeks back it was reported that from Thatcher’s private papers that she cried uncontrollably for 40 minutes before a speech on the Falklands War, this was the first time I had noticed that Thatcher’s story was being rewritten. We had to feel sorry for this vulnerable woman, this leader.
Then came her death, the Twitter went into meltdown. The Tories had been fed red meat and were in a frenzy slapping down any criticism of this woman, she was the saviour of the United Kingdom, from the brink of a precipice, she was Churchill, she was Wellington, and she was Elizabeth Tudor and of course Marilyn Monroe.
The Telegraph proclaimed she was a ‘working class hero’ someone ventured that her most cruel policies were not all her own, that she was a housewife. The rewriting of history was being penned.
Even as a Socialist I have to agree that the Unions in the 70’s were way too powerful and that any country needed to be run by the elected Government, but she went too far, too fast.
My first recollections was seeing Thatcher as Prime Minister was speaking the words of Francis of Assisi
Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”
Her words on the steps of No 10 were as callous and as shallow as her policies. She brought, and still does, discord and despair. I well remember the human misery she caused in Sheffield, and many other places, the decimation of villages, towns and cities offered as sacrifices on the altar of monetarism.
Thatcher’s Britain was a cruel and hard place, the poor – as now – were scapegoats, and to be weak was to fall victim. I remember walking around Sheffield looking for a job, any job, because she had left the city a wasteland; once proud steel workers reduced to sweeping the floors of Shopping Malls, unemployment at 4 million, wages at an all time low. Sheffield, were I come from, was battered, she closed the steel works, she closed the pits, she flogged off anything she could lay her hands on.
“Thatcher did more damage to Sheffield than Hitler did”- it was true.
The stories of the Miners Strike, the human misery visited on the coalfields was heartbreaking. It was not the politics that was heartbreaking, it was the broken families, the ruined lives, the sense of despair that still lingers even now. Even during the devastation of the war people had hope and purpose.
Of course change was required, but it was brutal, and how come other countries still have mines and steel works, and a manufacturing sector?
From Sheffield we could see the affluence of the south growing, we were not part of the United Kingdom anymore, she had favoured the Moneylenders over the Miners, they grew richer, we grew poorer. The difference in wealth between rich and poor tripled under Thatcher, Child poverty skyrocketed.
Glenda Jackson the Member of Parliament for Hampstead said today, 10 April 2013, said this:
Everything I’d learned & still believe to be a vice was hailed as a virtue under Thatcher, greed, selfishness and envy … of unleashing the most heinous economic, social, and spiritual damage in the history of the UK
Glenda Jackson came from Nottingham, she knows where I am coming from.
The Falklands War was hailed as Thatcher’s finest hour, cementing her reputation as an ‘Iron Lady’. The blood from that war has stained her soul; an avoidable war the Government of the day ignored every warning from the British Ambassador to Argentina, ignored the ‘exploratory expedition’ to the outlying islands, sank the ‘General Belgrano’ as it headed for Port, away from the war zone. She won another election over the dead bodies of British and Argentinean Troops.
Her list of inhumanity is getting buried, the refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa over apartheid (Bishop Tutu begged for them to be imposed), the sheltering of Chilean Dictators, the Section 28, ‘Suss Laws’ Hillsborough.
As a final insult the raw meat fed Tories are giving Thatcher a ‘Ceremonial Funeral’ – such funerals are for the ‘good and the great’ and to unite people of the country in grief and appreciation. Thatcher divides, and so does the funeral,
I do not gloat in the death of Margaret Hilda Thatcher, her judgement will come before God, but history is being rewritten, as Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister said:
One cannot, and must not try to, erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.