Ding Dong! The Witch is dead.
For those of us working class Britons who had to endure years of class warfare, Thatcher was no hero. I was 9 years old when I got my first taste of Thatcherism, when free school milk for the over sevens was removed in 1971. Edward Short, Labour education spokesman said it was ‘the meanest and most unworthy thing’ he had seen in 20 years.
It got worse from there. Thatcher sold off public businesses, destroyed trade unions and eroded workers' rights, slashed public services and tried to destroy the National Health Service, increased the gap between rich and poor and installed the basis for today's right wing political philosophy of "I, me, mine".
In my view, her policies destroyed Britain. I left in 1984, partially because Thatcher's England was no longer the England of my dreams.
Britain finally had enough when, in 1990, Thatcher instituted the Community Charge or 'poll tax': a tax which took no account of ability to pay. The resulting unrest forced Thatcher to resign as Prime Minister in November, defending a tax which an opinion poll had found only 12% favored.
Apparently, even in death she's still sticking it to the working class - she's getting a ceremonial funeral with military honors paid for with working folks' taxes.
No tears will be shed on this site over her demise. I just wish her policies would have died with her, but Britain is stuck with them.
Still, I should be thankful for small mercies. So party tonight at my house. Everyone's invited. The (English) Beat, Elvis Costello, Chumbawamba, Morrissey, The Exploited, Billy Bragg, and many, many more are on the jukebox and I aim to get legless.
'Thatcher is Dead' street parties are apparently happening in Brixton, Glasgow, Cardiff, Central London, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Bolton, Leeds, Bristol. Portsmouth, Belfast.
|Brixton, where poll tax riots took place.|
|Glasgow: Scots suffered the poll tax for a year|
before it came to the rest of the UK.
My family comes from the area around Aughton, Treeton and Orgreave, villages outside of Sheffield.
When the Guardian stopped to ask a local man if this was Orgreave, he said simply: "It's supposed to be." It's not just the pits which have gone, said Mansell, who worked underground at the Treeton colliery for 22 years. But with it the "camaraderie, the community spirit – the sense that we were all looking out for each other." He believes Thatcher didn't just destroy his village and many others like it, but also paved the way for the political climate of today.
"It was class war," he said. "The people above didn't want us to win. The people with money didn't want us to win. If we had won, they wouldn't be able to get away with what they are doing now, cutting benefits for disabled people and things like that. The unions would have stopped them. But we lost."
Hell has now frozen over, because by now, Thatcher will have closed down the furnaces.
11 April Update: Russell Brand puts it nicely in an article in The Guardian today:
When all the public amenities were flogged, the adverts made it seem to my childish eyes fun and positive, jaunty slogans and affable British stereotypes jostling about in villages, selling people companies that they'd already paid for through tax. I just now watched the British Gas one again. It's like a whimsical live-action episode of Postman Pat where his cat is craftily carved up and sold back to him...
All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.
I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship – it's just not British.