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Margaret Thatcher divisive in death, attacks and celebrations unsavoury

Margaret Thatcher (image from theguardian.com)

Margaret Thatcher (image from theguardian.com)

Margaret Thatcher is as controversial in death as she was in life. The response to her death, by some, has been disappointing. Matthew Donovan explains.

I must admit I have been a little shocked and disappointed by the vitriol being meted out by some on the progressive side of politics towards a recently deceased Margaret Thatcher.

Those of you that know me, my background and political activities know I am a staunch and unapologetic left winger. So far be it from me to declare I am a fan of her actions in government.

She was a force to be reckoned with, especially when it came to unions and the idea of the collective. Her actions, to many, meant unemployment and a loss of quality of life.

Entire areas, most specifically areas such as Brixton, which were very much working class communities were smashed to pieces by her unyielding approach. However, it is unpleasant to see people celebrate the death of anyone.

For my mind that is not how progressives should behave. Our values lead us to be better than that. Better people than that.

I’m not saying we should mourn or fawn over her in death. I, for one, don’t have any strong emotions in relation to her death.

What I do have is respect for her place in history and her will to achieve her vision at all costs.

That’s politics. One side wins and they set about implementing their agenda. The opportunity to have a say about that agenda is given to electors every election where they pass judgment on where the country is heading.

Civility needs to remain part of politics no matter how one feels personally about the program being implemented by leaders or proposed to be implemented.

Tony Abbott is a perfect example of not remaining civil in politics and that is why I truly despise his approach.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhsl0QHSDWE&w=420&h=315]

One thing that does ring alarm bells for me is Tony Abbott’s statement on her passing and how he views her approach and legacy:

“Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest British prime ministers and one of the most significant world leaders of our times.

She was the first female prime minister of Great Britain and ranks with the greatest of prime ministers because of the quality of her leadership and the impact she had on Britain and the wider world.

Margaret Thatcher arrested the decline of Britain and gave the British people renewed confidence. She ensured the British people no longer simply dwelt on the glories of the past but could enjoy a strong and prosperous future.

The thoughts of the Coalition are with Baroness Thatcher’s family and the British people at this time.”

It is instructive of how he would lead this country and where he would take us. I will be fighting it with all my will.

The reason I am a little disappointed about the response of some people I would call friends is because it reminds me of the actions and words of nasty, repulsive trolls on anti-Gillard pages.

We can express our opinions without personal, vitriolic attacks. We’re smarter than that.

She was a divisive figure and there is no doubting that.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_zEltxnb4&w=420&h=315]

I personally would have preferred she was never prime minister and I am distressed by the impact her policies had on many.

The level of hate towards her, even in death, brings that into sharp focus.

When all is said and done a human being has died and there is a family mourning the loss of a loved relative.

Dancing on her grave during that time is an ugly look.

(Originally published on www.independentaustralia.net)

34 comments

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  1. brian

    Matthew, the difference between Thatcher and Gillard is stark: Thatcher waged war on her own people, sending armed police to bash miners. She caused mass unemployment and set the north adrift. She waged bloody war and she sat by as Irish political prisoners starved. She supported apartheid, opposed Mandela’s release and called him a terrorist, and was a personal friend to Pinochet. Her poll tax sent pensioners to the wall, she laid the foundations for the corruption of Britain’s financial services sector and she took a sledgehammer to the NHS. I do not dance on her grave but I weep no tears. She was an enemy of the people and the people are speaking.

  2. Min

    Matthew, exceptionally well said. Likewise I do not dance on anyone’s grave and like yourself have no feelings about her passing. Thatcherism entered our vocabulary, may it never enter into politics ever again.

  3. Cas

    When a despot dies they become just like everyone else. That’s why the people rejoice.

  4. Felix Hayman

    I have met miners whose lives were destroyed by the Thatcher era, whose children committed suicide because of the destruction of their community, I have met policeman whose families will still not talk to them even after 30 years because of what they did in the miners strike, I have met students whose research was cut off and then they were forced into low paying jobs, I have met the Chilean refugees who showed me their scars and broken limbs from the secret service thugs of the Pinochet regime, I have met the widows of Argentinian sailors and the widows of English soldiers, who curse this woman on a daily basis, I have met the wasted traders who made millions out of the reckless abandon in the financial markets under free market economics, who die early from the stupidity of their excess, I have met the Alan B’Stards who made up her front bench, where greed ruled and morality was thrown out the door and I have met the people whose souls were swamped by the egotistical conservatism of that era.I will not weep, because only these people have a right to weep – for their lost futures

  5. Michael Taylor

    Well said, Felix.

  6. darin

    some people get life in prison some are killed or assented. some politicians and dictators just get rich she didn’t get what she deserved. this is the best some people will get.

  7. Michael Taylor

    Will her phone be tapped?

  8. Robert

    Well said Felix Hayman. The selfishness of Conservative Leaders and those aligned with them is breathtaking. It pains me when people are not informed except through the Murdoch media and the like, to accept what they have not researched and to praise those whom they do not know. I fear Tony Abbott and the Conservatives here have been inspired by the absolute ruthlessness of Thatherism/Reaganism believing that these people were giants rather than rogues. Self-delusion whilst destroying society (There is no such thing as Society, she said…) is not just regretable, it is evil, plain and simple. To destroy those civil structures that other generations have laboured to build in the false believe that somehow it was done in support of the common good or greater democracy, is unforgivable. Like Matthew Donovan I believe we do not have to stoop to vitriol to make these observations. Civility in public/political debate is what the electorate grave. Who-ever leads the debate with dignity will win the debate. Lets hope we’ll see more of this in the coming months!

  9. Matthew Donovan

    Compelling stuff Felix.

    Thank-you for sharing.

  10. Margaret Morgan

    Although I’m from the left side of the Political spectrum and so not agree with her conservative Politics,nor her treatment meted out to her fellow people, rightly or not the Baroness Thatcher believed in her actions, making her a very strong person and providing her a place in history ….like it or not.
    Having said that I’m working tirelessly to keep the conservatives from the destruction of this country with their austerity measures, by winning the upcoming Federal election in Australia

  11. silkworm

    Well said, Felix.

    Matthew, you are off the mark.

    I will dance on her grave. Her demise did not come soon enough.

  12. Matthew Donovan

    That’s why it’s an opinion piece Silk.

    Pretty hard to be wrong in an opinion piece.

    ; )

  13. Alison White

    My extended family in the UK were all coal miners, the cruelty and purposeful divisiveness perpetrated by Thatcher (the babies milk snatcher) scarred my family as well as thousands of others. She brought about a shift in the nature of the right wing that could best be described as disdainful cruelty towards the poorer classes.

    I’m quite certain she has a special place in whatever hell she devised for herself.

  14. Truth Seeker

    Silkworm, I’m with you, she was the epitome of right wing evil, and her legacy is the mess that the UK is in now her policies were short sighted, and all that she achieved was short term gain, for long term pain.

    So good riddance. 👿

    And the fact that Abbott is such a fan says it all 🙁

    Cheers 😀

  15. Ken Brown

    Well said Matthew Donovan, there is enough vitriol from the humans on this Planet.

    That said the greed and self serving of the conservatives in Britain, USA, Australia and elsewhere knows no bounds and has constantly increased since World War 2…..
    but what is truly unbelievable is the ranking the LNP is getting in the opinion polls.

    I can’t believe that average Australians are gullible and stupid enough to vote Abbott and the LNP into Federal Government and send us all back into the Dark Ages and the environment into oblivion.

  16. steven james

    we can always sing… ding dong the witch is dead .. which old witch.. the wicked witch ding dong the wicked witch is dead !! hope this makes you feel better : )

  17. Crash Skeptic

    The article incorrecty describes Brixton as a “working class mining community … smashed to pieces by [Thatcher’s] unyielding approach”.

    Brixton is actually in urban London barely a mile from the Thames. And their famous riot was a “race riot” occuring in 1981. It had absolutely nothing to do with Thatcher and the “miners’ strike” which began years later in 1984.

  18. Crash Skeptic

    – Agree with the author of the importance of civility.

    – Disagree with the statement – “Tony Abbott is a perfect example of not remaining civil in politics and that is why I truly despise his approach”. No matter how many times people “allude” to this, they never seem to have specific examples of Abbott doing this. Personally, I see plenty of Lefties being uncivil, including some ALP parliamentarians.

    Re: Thatcher.
    Overall, I think she was pretty good. A few mis-steps, but she got UK out of a hell of a mess.

    But I do have a sense of humour, and her death has made me all nostalgic for “The Young Ones”. Rick would be celebrating today, I’m sure.

    “Neil the bathroom’s free… unlike the country under the Thatcherite hunta!”

    “Thatcher, Thatcher. Ah, Thatcher. Typical, she’s got about 400 different phone numbers.”

    And this cracked me up:

    And this… well, pretty much describes modern Social Media perfectly…

  19. sulphurcrested

    I think if people are glad she is gone and want to express their delight without harming others then that is up to them.
    Many who were directly harmed by her actions and policies, as Felix has movingly portrayed, may well find some relief in her demise and hopefully some release of their pain in expressing their emotions about her and her departure.
    Suppressing emotions makes them last a lot longer than they otherwise would.

  20. Caroline Downs

    In the words of the British parliament… Hear hear

    Sent from my iPhone

  21. Matthew Donovan

    There was a typo when it comes to Brixton.

    It was written in the early hours 😉

    Now corrected.

    Thanks for pointing it out for me.

  22. Signe

    nice post, while I disliked her politics I can’t help but think she had a family who loved her and are dealing with their loss. It reminded me of when my nieces step brother died in a dreadful car accident and the vitriol in the press at the time and the devistation and heartbreak of the family trying to deal with their loss while the press were saying he deserved what he got….thoughtless, careless and hurtful didn’t change his circumstances but greatly impacted on theirs. regards

  23. Nina Booth

    To you perhaps and ugly look. To me a refreshing burst of truth unfettered and the way it should be. The reason people are so easily damaged by theswe repugnant Conservative regimes is because they have been taught by those same regimes and weird societal pressure to be docile and accepting of horrible things. This is why I love the French – if something gets up their nose they burn a few sheep or chop off a few well chosen heads. Laws have progressively eroded the people’s right to even peacefully protest over social injustices and I for one am ashamed that we ever let it come to that. There must be massive angst that so many people forgot the vicious times they experienced under Thatcher – to the detriment of the whole country when they foolishly voted in yet another divisive, damaging and unrelenting Conservative regime. It is important that people shout out and shout loud. It is important that people all over the world are shown that Conservatives and their agendas can never be trusted. I wish the shouting was so loud I could hear it here in Australia, where we need a voice so much more than ever before.

    Just my four penn’orth.

  24. Crash Skeptic

    Ironic observations:
    – Modern lefties hate Thatcher because she closed down some British coal mines…
    – Simultaneously, modern lefties carry on about global warming climate change and openly declare their desire to shut down the entire coal industry globally!

    Cognitive dissonance?

  25. Michael Taylor

    Fair point.

  26. silkworm

    Not a fair point. The modern left want to replace coal-fired power with renewable energy. Thatcher was anti-union, for anti-union’s sake. Greens/lefties are pro-union and want to maintain job numbers, just not in coal.

    You want to talk about cognitive dissonance? Climate denialism is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.

  27. Crash Skeptic

    Silworm wrote:

    Not a fair point. The modern left want to replace coal-fired power with renewable energy.

    So? Are you seriously claiming a Yorkshire coal-miner who lost his job would be happy because somewhere else they are building windmills?

    Are you seriously claiming Scargill and his union would have happily and willingly allowed their jobs to disappear if some windmills were being built??

    If you honestly believe this, you might wish to ask some Aussie miners about their opinion of Bob Brown’s anti-coal position… (Hint: It’s not complimentary!)

    Thatcher was anti-union, for anti-union’s sake.

    She was concerned by reigning in UK’s large budget deficits and high inflation, and getting rid of subsidies to unviable coal-mines was a step in the right direction.

    I don’t think she gave a damn about the existence of coal mining – but she did care about having the state-coffers drained subsidizing it.

    Greens/lefties are pro-union and want to maintain job numbers, just not in coal.

    Again, why would retrenched coal-miners be happier because jobs are being created for other people in other industries in other locations?

    Thatcher’s reforms were successful and by the late 80s, UK had tamed inflation, achieved budget surplus, and had good economic growth.

    The fact that other people DID benefit by the defeat of the coal-unions isn’t much consolation to the Yorkshire coal men. How come if these other people were building windmills or solar panels you honestly think it would be any different??

    You want to talk about cognitive dissonance? Climate denialism is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.

    “Cognitive dissonance” is not a “generic” criticism, Silkworm. It has a specific meaning and implies the subject is beliving in “two contradictory ideas at the same time”. ie: a form of “double-think”.

    So you don’t like climate-skeptics? Fine. So you think they’re wrong? Fine.

    But where’s the “prime example” of cognitive dissonance? Please elaborate.

  28. Fed up

    Her legacy, widening the gap between the poor and the rich. Not a bad effort.

  29. silkworm

    CS:

    First of all, I must correct your terminology. You are no skeptic. Skeptic societies around the world have disowned your lot. You are a denier.

    Now to the issue of cognitive dissonance. The first area relates to allegations of religiosity against scientists and followers of the science, which is blatantly untrue in any case. Yet deniers remain oblivious to the fact that their leading lights deny climate science for religious reasons. I’m here speaking of James Inhofe in the US, and George Pell and Danny Nalliah in Australia.

    The second area of cognitive dissonanced relates to allegations of corruption or secret funding. Deniers frequently allege that climte scientists are in it for the money, yet are oblivious to the fact that their own side is funded by the oil and coal industries. This is well documented. E.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

  30. Chery

    Could not agree with you more…..

  31. Möbius Ecko

    Well retorted silkworm.

  32. Möbius Ecko

    – Modern lefties hate Thatcher because she closed down some British coal mines…

    Wrong.

    They hate Thatcher because of why she closed down coal mines, which had nothing to do with any environmental reasoning. If she had closed them down whilst bringing in renewables and retraining the workers in the new industries she would have been lauded by the left to this day.

    The renewable energy sector is set to employ more people with a greater percentage at a higher skill set than most of the non-renewable sector except for nuclear. But that wasn’t Thatcher’s aim closing down coal mines in the UK and that’s why she is denigrated by the left, because of the social destruction she enacted in closing down those mines for purely flawed ideological reasons.

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