To paraphrase William Shakespeare, I came to bury Margaret Thatcher, not to praise her. However, due to a hospital appointment, I missed the procession and only arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral after the funeral service, when the guests were leaving, although I was in time to take a few photos as reminders of the day when the woman was laid to rest who, during my lifetime, did more than any other individual to wreck the country that is my home.
My most fervent hope is that I will live to see Margaret Thatcher’s legacy overturned, and for a caring, inclusive society to replace the one based on greed, selfishness and cruelty that was her malignant gift to the people of Britain.
Since her death last week, I have largely avoided the sickening attempts by the Tories to use it for political gain, although I was absolutely delighted that their insistence on providing a lavish funeral at taxpayers’ expense backfired, because only 25 percent of the public thought that a state funeral was appropriate, and 60 percent opposed it.
I have no time for anyone praising Margaret Thatcher for anything, and I have been thinking about this on and off for the last nine days, avoiding the praise from the rich and powerful people who benefited enormously from her leadership, and the craven supplication of the many establishment liberals who should know better, but who, it turns out, also bought into the agenda of selfishness and greed that, of course, was enthusiastically embraced by New Labour in 1997.
For 34 years, since Thatcher came to power, selfishness has replaced the common good, and greed has become the only reference point for the value of existence. Much of this — most of it, in fact — was facilitated by Margaret Thatcher, even though it has been enthusiastically continued by all her successors — John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and David Cameron and George Osborne.
I remember a time when there was more to life than greed, and much of that was in the world that Margaret Thatcher devoted her energies to destroying. This world contained industries that had helped to shape Britain as a world power — coal mining, steel and shipbuilding — and communities across the country that depended on these industries. Supporters of Thatcher claim that the destruction (which started with the miners in 1984) was necessary because the unions were engaged in a war with the state, and while there is some truth to this, the damage caused by killing off Britain’s industries rather than finding a way of negotiating with the unions was destructive on a totally unjustifiable scale, a bonfire of our assets, and a death sentence for communities around the country — and millions of people — that have never recovered.
That is unforgivable, but it was just one small part of her crimes. I chronicled her war on the travellers, festival-goers and green activists in my book The Battle of the Beanfield (also see here), and I also mentioned her war on the women of Greenham Common, who were opposed to Britain becoming an outpost for American nuclear weapons in my book Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion.
In addition, of course, Thatcher sold off council houses, a move that some people regard as empowering, although there was never any need for people given an affordable home to rent, for life, to get into the property-owning world. The sell-off not only ended up fuelling a rise in house prices (with ex-council houses as the new entry level for first-time buyers), but was also part of an attempt to discredit social housing as a valid form of housing, which Thatcher reinforced, to devastating effect, by banning councils from building any new homes — a policy that her successors also continued, including New Labour, whose love of the housing market disgracefully engineered an epidemic of almost uncontrolled greed that defined Casino Britain from 1997 to 2008.
Moreover, Thatcher was also responsible for selling off Britain’s privatised utilities, transferring power to the rich and powerful, while fooling people into thinking that a quick profit as shareholders was a fair exchange for being fleeced for the rest of their lives by private companies and corporations — many of whom, of course, were foreign and took their profits abroad, as did the companies that started an orgy of outsourcing, in search of easy profit, during the Thatcher years. In addition, she attempted to introduce a tax on existence, regardless of the individual’s income, via the Poll Tax (the “Community Charge”), which backfired horribly, and, through widespread non-payment, the jailing of little old ladies and the infamous Poll Tax Riot of March 31, 1990, led partly to her political demise later that year after eleven and a half grindingly long years in power.
Furthermore, Thatcher’s deregulation of Britain’s financial markets, in 1986, opened the doors on a feeding frenzy of greed that led directly to the global economic crash of 2008 — with help from the deregulation of the banks by Blair and Brown and President Clinton between 1997 and 1999 — and this baleful legacy is one that is particularly crippling right now for the ordinary people of Britain, as the true villains go unpunished, and our current malignant politicians — Thatcher’s heirs — seek suicidally to destroy the state to protect the true criminals — the ones initially liberated by Thatcher — from being held accountable.
The ordinary people of Britain — and particularly those who are poor, ill, unemployed or disabled — are being savaged by cuts imposed for malignant ideological reasons by Thatcher’s brutal successors David Cameron, George Osborne and the rest of their heartless colleagues, and in London, moreover, these problems are exacerbated by the capital’s continued existence as a swollen housing bubble, driven by speculators and foreign investors.
There is more, much more to despise about Margaret Thatcher — her war in the Falklands, her monstrous support for the mass-murdering scumbag Pinochet, her love of the racist South African regime, her hatred of gay people, but this was only meant to be a send-off for the wretched woman, and not a full-blown treatise.
Goodbye, Margaret. I always took it personally, and you always absolutely epitomised everything I loathe about Little England and the hardhearted, greedy bigots who love to inflict misery on their fellow citizens. You will not be missed.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
We met some years ago through Moazzam. Well done. I have no political affiliations any more. Sitting in Rajasthan, with utter amazement I have watched the bizarre spectacle of Thatcher’s leaving unfold.
I was born into a rock solid Tory family of the noblesse oblige variety where one was brought up to know that with good fortune went the obligation to take responsibility in society and that ethics, compassion and honour where paramount.
For that first election when she stood to become Prime Minister, my parents’ house was Tom King’s constituency HQ (or local office I can’t quite remember). There was, of course, much jubilation when she won.
However within 18 months my father had turned from being an arch supporter to loathing her. He recognised how she was throwing away all that was good about the old order (whether you think it somewhat paternalistic or not) and replacing it with a philosophy of utter selfishness.
After that he voted Lib Dem or whichever name variant the middle party was called at the time. I asked him why he continued to attend local Conservative meetings given his views. He said that the Liberals had his vote so there was no need to go to their meetings, it would be like singing to the choir. Instead it was better to go to Tory meetings, ask a few awkward questions and point out some uncomfortable facts, the Trojan horse principle. He believed that by doing that, he might be able to influence a few decent people to change their vote. Nothing like an rural guerilla in their old age!
Go well Andy, we need you.
Great to hear from you, and thank you very much for sharing your recollections. To my mind, paternalism was much better than Thatcher’s model of selfishness and greed. She was against the old boy network, we are told, but it’s not really true. She just attracted the worst of them, and they all cashed in when she deregulated the City – people like David Cameron’s father. London is a pit of pigs now, with Etonians pimping for whichever filthy rich foreigners they can get close to.
On Facebook, Margaret Heller wrote:
I could not believe the postings on the day she died. People mourning – they forgot what a tyrant she was.
Good to hear from you, Margaret. Yes, you would think from the sycophancy of the media over the last week and a half that almost everyone adored her, whereas millions of us hated her, and everything she stood for.
Mark Jones wrote:
Yes, that’s an appropriate response, Mark!
Natashja de Wolf wrote:
You’ve got me there, Natashja. What did you sign? Was this a comment for the Shaker Aamer post yesterday? Or did you sign something about Thatcher? I didn’t link to the petition against her having a taxpayer-funded funeral, because I thought it was too late, essentially, although perhaps I should have. It’s here, and currently has over 38,000 signatures: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45966
Jonas Rand wrote:
Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead!
Ah yes, Jonas, I think that needed to be said. And here’s the song that the BBC, put under pressure, cravenly agreed to ban: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ6SjnPIomI
Just updated the article. Forgot to mention the Poll Tax! In my defence, she was responsible for so many horrors that it’s genuinely difficult to remember them all!
Neil Mckenna wrote:
The city of ‘managed decline’ won’t forgive or forget.
Neil Mckenna wrote:
And even as she was buried, section 3 of the Equalities Act 2006 is abolished.
Anis Hdz wrote:
Well said Andy!
Thanks, Neil and Anis, and everyone who has liked and shared this. The following photo has been chosen for “Explore” on Flickr, which means it is getting out to a wide audience: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/8658187967/
hi andy it was good to meet you and ill look forward to working with you
Likewise, Damo. It was a real pleasure to finally meet you. Perhaps I can make it out to your neck of the woods sometime next week. Let’s email about it.
Watching from abroad, one thing that keeps coming to mind is a old Tony Benn video he did for a Socialist conference (sorry, can’t remember exactly where in the UK). His main points in it? We’re under attack over what most sensible and human people see as basic human rights (housing, health care, education, and being able to have a happy and meaningful life, and not as a debt slave). Keep your self control. Despite this assault, fight to main your self respect.
We will keep fighting, Tom, but the problem is that a model exists of what politicians see as the best deal for a high-profit, low-maintenance state – and it’s the United States. We have a long way to go to cut welfare and destroy healthcare before we get there …
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