|Spot the Fascist|
The Death of Margaret Thatcher this week has highlighted the deep divisions the 11 plus years of her Premiership left in Britain, and the differing opinions of the Iron Lady around the world. In an ICM opinion poll in the Guardian Newspaper - stark divisions in Britain were quantified. Whilst 60% of those polled in the South rated Thatcher as having been "good" for Britain, only 47% in the North agreed with 34% in Wales and 23% in Scotland - opening old wounds as those in London try and make a spectacle of her funeral at St Pauls Cathedral. Many of the Thatcherite "reforms" still command support such as
- Council House Sales 65% (For) 24% Against
- Taking on Trade Unions 50% (For) 34% Against
- Trident Nuclear Deterrent 40% (For) 28% Against
- Anti-Europe 38% (For) 39% Against
- Income Tax/Vat changes 38% (For) 38% Against
- Privisation 35% (For) 49% Against
- Inflation over Jobs 33% (For) 41% Against
- Tax Cuts for Rich 28% (For) 47% Against
- Poll Tax 14% (For) 70% Against
People may question why £8-10 million pounds is being squandered at a time of Austerity for a State Funeral in all but name. Questions may be asked about the breach of Constitutional protocol which will see the Queen attending what is a politically divisive funeral. For the many millions of British families adversely affected by Thatcherism during the 1980's and 1990's - in the ex-Coalfields of the North, the ex-Manufacturing cities and in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - Thatcher is still (and rightly) a figure of hate and loathing.
None can deny that in retaking the Falklands (having left the Islands unprotected in the first place) and opposing Soviet Communism she scores highly on Foreign Policy. However on the damage done to relations with Europe, the wrecking of the Manufacturing economy in preference to the Casino City Economy and the damage to the society she denied existed she rightly is denied a State Funeral. She saw herself in the mantle of Sir Winston Churchill who was awarded the honour of a state funeral. Churchill was however a figure who was capable of uniting the nation at time of national crisis behind a line of principled opposition to Nazi tyranny against more expedient lines advocated by appeasers such as Neville Chamberlain. Churchill unlike Chamberlain was able to rally the nation behind his premiership which included a coalition of Liberals and Labour. Thatcher might have led the country during the Falklands but she was incapable of uniting the nation in such a coalition. Interestingly she came from the same political wing of the Conservative Party that backed Neville Chamberlain and opposed Churchill. Britain might have stood alone in 1940, but Churchill did not, Thatcher would have stood alone and not been able to carry the country with her.
The backlash to the attempts to re-write history have created a gallows humour which is not edifying - "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead " - heading the Charts, "Rejoice" Street Parties, or Tweets of "Gotcha" - Jokes of burial at sea off the Malvinas etc but real questions about her politics are being raised. In Australia - Bob Carr tells of her alleged racist views in full earshot of his Asian wife. We remind ourselves of her personal friendship with the Fascist monster Pinochet to whom she gave sanctuary instead of justice to the victims of torture, of her describing Nelson Mandela as a Communist Terrorist, of her support to South Africa and the views of her pro-South Africa partner Denis. The Spotlight is being shone on many of Thatchers supporters and backers who used here for their own nefarious purposes.
Personally I found the resurrection of the Iron Lady by Meryl Streep far more nauseating, but when Childrens Heart Hospitals are being closed why not blow £10 million to say farewell to someone who remains for many a hate figure.