When I left school in 1980, age 16, there were more than 2 million people out of work, a post war record. British Steel were closing down many of their plants and the steelworkers called a nationwide strike, a foretaste of what was to come throughout the rest of the 1980s (particularly the miner’s strike). Margaret Thatcher, who the previous year was elected as the first woman Prime Minister of Britain, announced that state benefit to strikers would be halved. An opinion poll conducted by the Evening Standard showed that six out of 10 Brits were dissatisfied with Thatcher’s Conservative government. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament held their first ever rally at Greenham Common, following an announcement that American nuclear cruise missiles would be based there (the following year, 1981, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp was established). The SAS ended the siege at the Iranian embassy in London. At the 1980 Conservative Party conference, Thatcher made her famous “The lady’s not for turning” speech. The Yorkshire Ripper was still on the loose. John Lennon was shot dead at the end of the year. Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police was the best selling single of 1980. West Ham won the FA Cup, beating Arsenal by one goal.
Well, I could go on and on, because what do you say about such a divisive figure as Margaret Thatcher? The tories will now probably naively worship her in much the same way that American Republicans worship Ronald Reagan (gawd almighty!). There’s a certain irony that Margaret Thatcher has passed away just as a Tory coalition government is bringing in savage welfare cuts. In reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s death today (age 87), both the left wing Guardian and the right wing Daily Telegraph have been running extensive coverage. At the time of writing the Telegraph is not allowing reader’s comments (as indeed most of the UK press aren’t), so I’m unable to give balance and we’re left with the Guardian. What’s most interesting about the reader’s comments is that it shows that even all these decades later, what Mrs T was best at was dividing opinion (scroll right down to the bottom of the page to see the comments)…
The Guardian – Margaret Thatcher dies: live reaction and updates
Today, the front page of the Daily Mail has proclaimed that Margaret Thatcher will receive a state funeral. This is incorrect (I won’t link to it because the Daily Mail will probaby correct it). Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours (as did Princess Diana and the Queen Mum). The service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral and is expected to take place next week. Methinks that with all the welfare cuts, and particularly the ‘bedroom tax’ (which is being called the ‘son of the Poll Tax’), there is such simmering resentment that Thatcher’s funeral will become the focus of massive protests that will continue on into the summer. Another irony is that the bill for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, with all its security implications, will be picked-up by the tax payer. Amongst a plethora of articles that the Daily Mail ran today about Margaret Thatcher, the following one about the hatred felt for Mrs T amongst many sections of British society is probably the funniest. The Daily Mail leader writers are of course preaching to the converted, yet while labelling the anti-Thatcher brigade as socialists, communists and weirdos they are completely missing the national Zeitgeist…
I try not to speak ill of the dead, and for all her many bad points, Margaret Thatcher was a wife and mother and did do some good things for Britain. Let her rest in peace. Instead of dwelling on the past, what we need to do is go after the bunch of feckers, Labour and Tory, who came after her.
Margaret Thatcher: 1925 – 2013
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing Oscar Wilde