Tomorrow sees the funeral of Baroness Thatcher. I will not be attending. To be fair, I have not received a formal invitation, so I do not feel as if I am being too rude. However, it does seem like I will be receiving an invoice!
Trawling through the web since Monday, 8th April 2013, a date many will never forget, the average user would have been able to discover many a comment relating to Thatcher’s passing. Her death has been an event as polarising as her premiership. She was a woman you either loved or hated, it appears, in death as much as during her lifetime. Me, I didn’t like her all that much!
Her major success, we are told, was the Falklands war, standiing up to those dirty, annoying Argies who tried to steal OUR land. Quite apart from the rather ludicrous notion that the UK should retain any legitimate claim to a group of rocks nearly 8,000 miles away (Port Stanley is closer to Sydney than it is to London) it seems to have been forgotten, conveniently, that it was the removal of British naval forces from the area that emboldened the Argentinian military junta. A move that the government was warned, specifically, might be interpreted as an encouragement to invasion. The Falklands war stands as a testament to failure, not success. Lives were lost as a result of a catastrophic policy failure, lives that should never have been lost at all.
This callous disregard for human suffering is what I will remember Thatcher for. It was evident in her treatment of the mining communities of the country. It may be that some structural changes were required, but Thatcher’s approach was calculated to wreak havoc and it succeeded.
Thatcher changed this country, of that there is no doubt. Her legacy is manifest.
We have a housing crisis. Thatcher’s government, in a sordid attempt to ‘make more Tories’, sold off the nation’s stock of council housing, at a huge discount, and prevented local authorities from replacing it by rebuilding. This was a war on the poor, a war on the philosphy behind public housing, fuelled by an idealogical anti-state, pro-individualism agenda. We all remember the famous, ‘There is no such thing as society,’ quote, at least, those of us old enough do, and she meant it. She saw no role for the state in helping the less fortunate, because being ‘less fortunate’ was, for her, simply a manifestation of the ‘something for nothing’ culture. Is this sounding familiar?
We have a banking crisis. She began the deregulation of the financial sector, encouraged the ‘me, me, me’ selfishness of the Yuppie culture, promoted the ‘loadsamoney’ mentality. The reckless pursuit of profit at all costs that led directly to the current financial meltdown is her direct responsibility, aided and abetted by the Thatcherite economic policies of successive governments, including Blair’s and Brown’s.
And then there was Pinochet. Harboured and befriended by Thatcher, Pinochet is the ultimate example of the corrupt dictator. At his death, he faced hundreds of charges relating to the murder and torture of countless civilians and political opponents in Chile and in respect of an allegedly illegally amassed fortune of $28 million. Any person with an ounce of humanity would have been repulsed by such a character; Thatcher embraced him. Why would this be? Well, Pinochet had overthrown a socialist goverment (albeit via a military coup rather than through the ballot box) and had implemented Friedmanesque economic policies, curbing the power of unions and privatising state industries. He was Thatcher’s idealogical bedfellow.
I will not mourn her passing.