Divisive even in death

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Thatcher front pages

Thatcher – Day 2: The Reaction

I avoided the TV yesterday until it was Newsnight time as I knew the general approach would be an unbiased retrospective of her life and time in power – and as usual Paxman & co delivered a good honest discussion about her and what she stood for. At no point did anyone start whimpering and complaining that we weren’t respecting a dead 87-year-old who had suffered from dementia, which was a nice change from all the nonsense on social media.

Even in her death she has managed to stir up those feelings we all have about her and her time in office. Those who opposed her and her views are still strong, those Tories who adored her still adore her, and then there are those in the middle who are still hedging their bets. There seems to have been a pacifists convention no-one knew about that would come out and chastise us all for saying anything bad about her while at the same time saying they didn’t agree with her policies. I can understand that middle group because I was also brought up to respect my elders and not speak ill of the dead, but I fully agree with yesterday’s article by Glenn Greenwald (http://t.co/mnl4cluF0y) where he notes that such a polarizing public figure cannot just receive positive epitaphs.

I fully agree with his argument that because her supporters are allowed to trumpet her achievement and those who obviously didn’t even know her are painting the world a light blue with a heavy dose of rose tint. There are millions in this country who were damaged by her and her policies – and continue to be through the last twenty years of Thatcherite policies through successive governments. The Baroness herself said when asked what was your greatest legacy and she answered “New Labour”. We should not sit back and listen to others pontificate about how wonderful she was, what amazing things she did when there is a huge swathe of this country who a) never voted for her and b) had their lives, jobs and communities irreparably damaged by her.

Watching the coverage last night you could see the transformation in her from the media trained 1979 lady to the self-important one by the mid 80s. She reached a point where she undid any real positive change she might have done and then continued down a path that left many families in difficult positions. The rise of the “individual” and the decay of “society” is one of he most famous legacies she has left behind – which is ironic as I am reading a mass group of opinions online that tell me to stay quiet and not express any negative opinion about her.

While my generation grew up with her, my parents had to live with the decisions she made. speaking to my mum on the phone last night she wasn’t backward in reminding me the hurt that the decade in power caused. It’s easy to say we should all get along and not defame the memory of an elderly woman, but when so many warped truths, misrepresentations and outright lies are being published it’s only fair that the opposing viewpoint is heard too. No one I know is celebrating her death or dancing on her grave – it’s just we’re reminded of the damaging, selfish, egotistical and callous things she did that this current Tory led government is continuing through its Bedroom taxes, disability benefit cuts, levels of poverty in major cities increasing, the demise of manufacture and industry, the credit crunch, tax cuts for the rich and the housing crisis are all her legacy in action today. The irony for me is the self-same people who chastise us for speaking out at this time are the first to dismiss the policies and trends just mentioned.

Her funeral is to be held on Wednesday 17th April at St Paul’s and my concern is that there will be trouble on the streets that day. As much as I dislike the woman and what she stood for to protest at her funeral or to cause damage or rioting is not the way to show your opposition or anger. There is a great idea from Don’t Hate – Donate http://t.co/TB6kWvHLUB where some of the causes she did real damage to can be supported instead. The best thing we can do to counter her negative impact is to be positive and show we’re better than that.

JD

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