Hearing the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death

Somewhat surreally, I was in St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, this morning when I heard the first rumour of Thatcher’s demise. Rarely does a person’s name arouse such instant passions as Margaret Thatcher. Despite the fact she has been out of the public eye for so long, the dramatic caustic impact she had on British society – that entity she tried to pretend doesn’t even exist – that has, to a significant extent, shaped my entire adult life, meant my immediate reaction was one of which I am not proud. It was a kind of inner snarl of satisfaction that she had finally and irrevocably bitten the dust. If only it was that simple.

As I say, I am not proud of taking any sort of satisfaction in the death of a fellow human being – but I know that I am not alone in my reaction to the news. Such is the woman’s legacy.

Every form of media was immediately all over the news. But one blog piece seemed to encapsulate my own memories of her ‘achievements’.
The Politics Blog by Charles P. Pierce is not my usual reading material , but this American commentator’s piece certainly resonated as I made my way across London today:

I am going to leave the encomiums to the late Margaret Thatcher to the people who loved her best, of whom I am decidedly not one. What I remember best about her is that she pretty much invented the modern concept of the distracting Wanking Little War the Falklands begat Grenada and that she allowed an elected member of the British parliament named Bobby Sands to starve himself to death in a British prison rather than dress the way he wanted to dress, and that she once held this view about Nelson Mandela:

The Conservative prime minister had dismissed the ANC as “a typical terrorist organisation” and refused to back sanctions against the apartheid government, pursuing instead a policy of “constructive engagement”. South Africa was then seen as a vital ally in stemming communist expansion.

Her record in Northern Ireland was abysmal, the 1985 Anglo-Irish Treaty be damned. If you want to see where the Bush people got all those bright ideas about preventive detention, and drumhead tribunals, and extrajudicial assassinations, look to Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister. (Which, of course, coincided with an appalling over-escalation by Irish nationalist militants. The Enniskillen bombing in 1987, detonated without warning, left what was left of the IRA’s reputation in tatters.) She made it illegal to broadcast the voices of Sinn Fein leaders. She was the last real Unionist, a direct heir to the people whose policies made Ireland bleed unnecessarily for seven centuries, and she allowed the bleeding to go on for nearly two more decades. And that’s not even to get into her role in breaking British trade-unionism and laying the groundwork for the delightful austerity-is-prosperity policies of today. Other people can mourn and they will, God knows. I’m going to give it a good leaving alone.


Andy Chyba.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s