Hey how are you? I hope you’re doing great. Hey i just saw a post in your blog about Margaret Thatcher and it was quite some time since i wanted to ask you something about her. Look i’m very intrigued about those Thatcher years, and i know somethings obviosly from pop culture but also i have read about that era but i think i don’t get the full picture. I know it was a bad time for middle class and working class people but my question is: how is her figure seen in the present, and most important how was it? to live in the U.K those years? how was the social climate? i know this maybe sound silly but i’m just really curious.
I was a teenager when Thatcher was in power in the ‘80s. For my generation, she left deep scars that will never, ever be healed. Obviously, lefties vilify her but even Tories have to acknowledge she was a divisive figure.
She was openly racist:
“If we went on as we are then, by the end of the century, there would be four million people of the new Commonwealth or Pakistan here. Now, that is an awful lot and I think it means that people are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.” (Source)
Notice ‘swamped’. Not enriched or enlivened or strengthened or fresh blood: swamped. She was unashamedly xenophobic and set the tone for the ‘80s for Tories. And, through the NF, then BNP and now EDL and UKIP, established a lineage for fascism / racism in UK mainstream politics.
Thatcher is who solidified my hatred of Tories and made me join my first Marxist party. I remember hearing an older comrade sum her up, “She’s a great class fighter but she’s fighting for the ruling class, for the capitalists. I wish we had class fighters like that in the Labour Party leadership on our side.”
Thatcher set out to break the unions because, unlike many so-called socialists, she realised that the unions were the best line of defence for the British working class. With union power unchallenged, how could she attack wages, lower living conditions, create the pool of disenfranchised, desperate unemployed that capital finds optimal?
The crazy thing is that, thinking back, I would have to say that Thatcher understood Marxism better than most left reformists. She understood that society is based on an economic system which gives rise to inevitable class conflict. Like a surgeon, she sought out the strongest organs of the working class, the National Union of Mineworkers, the print unions and so many others and directly attacked them. She brought new laws into place to prevent people travelling (as they might be supporting a picket) and thus edged the UK closer to Stalinist-levels of government control.
She embarked on a huge project of privatisation, ‘selling off the family silver’ and soon trains, telecoms, gas, electricity, council housing… All of them were sold off after being supported by taxpayers’ money for decades. And her privatisation crusade is what her Tory descendants are carrying on now with the NHS, albeit lying and pretending they aren’t, unlike Thatcher who was proud of her lunacy.
Here’s Thatcher spewing homophobia:
You can see here some of the insanity she channelled. And that Britons everywhere lapped up as they kept voting her back in.
I could go on and on about the macro, the big things she did. Like dragging Britain into a war with Argentina simply to win an election, glorying in slaughter. But I think small things sometimes say more.
When I was a kid, pre-Thatcher, walking round, I would never see beggars. I would see, at the bus station, actual tramps who were mostly older men who seemed to have decided that was their life. Now, if I walk around Derby, I’ll pass young, homeless people begging on the streets at least four, five, maybe more times. That is Thatcher’s legacy. She savaged the unions that would otherwise fight for a living wage for young workers. This lead to a huge increase in part-time workers and transitory, unreliable employment. She sold off council houses and at the same time cut budgets for building replacements, creating huge housing shortages. She also attacked mental health funding, putting young people at risk like never before. And, some of them inevitably ended out on the streets.
She called unions and their members ‘the enemy within’ at the same time as being best friends with mass-murderer Augusto Pinochet.
The woman was simply, utterly evil. The only love she had was for naked, unfettered capitalism at any cost.
The greatest evil is that she is not dead. The spectre of Thatcherism is behind the current Tory “austerity” measures. Once again, the working class are to be attacked and hounded into early graves while our taxes are given out freely to bankers and their yacht-makers. We are told to pull our belts in while the richest in society feast like never before.