Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Maggieography

    So Maggie's dead. Margaret Thatcher, UK prime minister through the 1980s, first (and so far only) female UK PM, and one of the most divisive politicians of my lifetime, at least in terms of how her legacy is viewed. Right-wing Brits are alternately   penning extravagant hagiographies or fuming at left-wingers for not praising her, while left-wing Brits are queueing up to dance on her grave both metaphorically or in some cases physically.
    I was an unquestioning supporter of Maggie, as a spotty teenager. Not difficult at the time, with the fresh memory of industries like my town's major industrial employer spending more time closed due to strikes than working, its increasingly shoddy products becoming something of a national bad joke.
    She paid my school fees. I passed an exam and won a government assisted place, went to a private school my parents chose for me that they would never otherwise have afforded. Being at a private school in the 1980s it was easy to join the personality cult of Thatcherism.
    A quarter century later, I'm a floating voter sitting on the fence. I still harbour an admiration for Maggie as a person, but having as an adult seen both the disastrous effects of those of her policies that failed as well as the shadiness of her party at a local level I don't think I have much in common with the naive youth I once was.
    It's something I've always found a little odd about the Thatcher legacy, the obsession people have with her. Conservatives still speak of her in hushed tones, those on the Left still speak her name with vitriol. Am I an outsider if I admit that I hadn't thought much about Maggie for years? I don't think so, and I don't think I'm alone in wishing those on all sides of political activism would stop harping on about her. We've heard it all before, please move on.
    Which makes today's spectacle a rather sorry one. An endless stream of the political class of yesteryear still being wheeled onto the TV to sing her praises a day or two after her passing. People who in most cases would have been wielding the knife at her back in the day.
    The Korean peninsula hovers on the brink of war, Syria is crumbling and there is a looming famine in the Central African Republic. And I haven't even mentioned the financial crises closer to home. I think due respect has been shown to the recently departed and it's time to get back to more important business.

4 comments:

  1. I was at boarding school at the time of her first election and remember the headmaster explaining that her winning was a matter of life and death for the school.

    I didn't begin to appreciate her political contribution till I began to get interested in politics later in university.

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  2. Totally agree Jenny. I am sick of hearing about her life and the arguments from both sides about her achievements and mistakes. I say get on with her burial, respectfully of course, then get on with the business of life in hand.

    Shirley Anne x

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  3. Absolutely.

    I don't think that there should be praise all around on the TV just because she died.

    And I think waiting till the day she died to start again with the 'she was awful' is a little crass. You can respect the families loss without showering her with praise, or respecting her legacy.

    And those being joyful at her death I have one comment (not mine, but I can't remember where from!):

    I don't have to mourn every death, but I shall celebrate none

    Stace

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  4. It will be interesting when i am in my dotage to open up a history book (hologram?) and see the longer view on the Thatcher years. Probably uncomfortable reading for both sides.

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