Rest In Peace

No swingeing eulogy here, I’m not trying to carve out a name for myself on the back of loss. Unless you live in a cave, or are a feckless modern youth, you’ll know Margaret Thatcher passed away yesterday. The reaction was perfectly predicted by one Martin Belam over a year ago, in this pie chart. I daresay I fall marginally into the blue segment, with perhaps just a hint of green. I try to be rational but was still struck by the vindictive, celebratory tone that emerged from some.

One relatively younger looking man gloated into a BBC camera, “Thatcher ruined my hometown, so… I’m glad she’s dead!” I would counter rather that modernity ruined his hometown, a fact that many of the disenfranchised former industrial classes vehemently deny in their hatred for the former Prime Minister. She didn’t exactly ease the fall but British industry was simply out-gunned by international markets and the lower wages of further flung nations breaking into the new world.

I would argue, obviously, sick Tory that I am (not really at all), that the unions were equally complicit in their downfall through their unashamed war against Thatcher and the hope that union strangleholds might be relaxed. It was a classic case of an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object and the government won. Thatcher never helped matters with her increasingly monarchic disposition, and let’s not mention the Poll Tax, but still.

There should be restraint in these situations. I have no real problem with a person despising Thatcher, as they are completely entitled to, but I believe there’s a common decency that a person makes void in themselves if they can’t respect the dead, even for a moment. I was horrified by the jubilation on the streets of America over the death of Osama bin Laden. There’s no argument, the man was a monster, but I think to Nietzsche and the abyss.

After encountering so many frankly sickening comments from random idiots all the way to Gerry Adams, I tipped myself into that green category with this comment on Facebook, “For f@%k’s sake people, two expressions, ‘Don’t speak ill of the dead,’ and, ‘I’ll dance on your grave.’ If you can’t mind the first at least have the decency to wait long enough to actually do the second.” And I’ll stand by that statement on reflection.

I never directly experienced the Iron Lady’s tenure or even public life. All I have is the retrospective and the influence of those who were contemporary to her, replete with so many opposing views. On that basis I would praise her for giving life back to the City and for sticking two fingers right up at Galtieri and his corrupt agenda. She deserves great respect for her position as first democratic female leader of the nation and for managing the Cold War.

The regal nature of her later years in office are understandably hard to swallow for many, when compounded with the dismantling of industry and the unions and the absurd unjustness of the Poll Tax, all of which did undeniably hit the poorer elements of society terribly. But of these the former were necessary, however harshly achieved, and only the latter was a crude error, in my opinion. On balance I might say she was a decent Prime Minister, but for the divisions.

That is the bottom line in my estimations of her. All said and done, the leader can’t be said to have been truly good that caused such deep and lasting rifts, not only in opinions of his or herself but also in how people feel about the character and trajectory of the nation. Great for some, terrible for others, and in that regard joining the club of probably every leader that ever was, rest in peace Margaret Thatcher.


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