“I’m not glorifying anyone’s death today, but Thatcher was anathema to everything i believe in and stand for, ruining the community in which I grew up. Instead of mourning or celebrating her death we should spare a thought for the victims of her terrible legacy, as it continues to tear our society apart.” Kathryn Essex
Margaret Thatcher’s demise became a maelstrom as she said her final words and marked modern British politics with indelible ink. The marmite of the political spectrum, The Iron Lady created a spectre of her own, with gritty policies that haunt the corpse of today’s Conservative government.
From a Northern background with strong Liverpudlian roots, the word “Thatcher” was bandied about family gatherings as a pejorative. “Milk snatcher” rhymes became nursery ditties (although this fact is one of the several myths of the Thatcher reign). Synonymous with inequality and social justice, Margaret’s name spat blood in the north, reminding so many of their former glory, and how a sense of northern pride was so quickly taken away.
Given the chance to look into the specifics of Thatcherite policy at university, I was flabbergasted by the stirring inside of me. Words of jarring bile leapt up from the textbook pages, preaching sentiments of social dissipation and destruction. Working families had been brought to their knees while the richer wore their crowns; free market policy became a kingdom of its own, playing divide and conquer with its citizens. Section 28 branded us voiceless, pressing the heavy weight of discrimination upon our backs. They are just the basics. Feminism became poison, privatisation perfection. Sketching Thatcherism onto paper became painful, especially when the course of history showed that people were unwilling to retreat and create “ism”s of their own. I felt the greed in my bones. All sense of Left became an imposter tilt in the wrong direction. I became very, very angry. Little did I realise just a few years later I would be defending the Left’s enduring political nemesis, The Iron Lady.
As Twitter unfurled its barricade, Britain went into battle and became as controversial as the politician in her heyday. Known for diving a nation, Brits were willing to offer their two-pence to the debate. Some jarred with their misguided appellations of feminism, others were wince-inducing with their misplaced enshrining of her stubborn will, but others descended into the feral midst of the political animal. “Happy and celebrating,” the Twitter brigade took their ominous joy to the streets to party, laughing in the face of the mortality that would soon take them into the shadows. Less about politics and more about taste, the celebrations became crass assaults that stumbled about in the dark to defend the victims of the Thatcher years.
Watching the mess unfold, I opted for silence, pinning only two words to my Twitter mast: “Margaret Thatcher.” Her political legacy continued, but her sense of self didn’t. Frail and elderly, she became a suffering dementia patient, only released from her condition by a ticking time bomb in her brain. She was human. In acknowledging the vulnerability that she denied to so many others, my own sense of self, and my political colours shone through. I didn’t want to become a mud slinging barbarian, dancing to the demise of another dementia affectee. I wanted to access the real core of humanity, the love and compassion that brings us together in all odds, that sense of unity and common cause that makes the Left-wing. Rising above the charnel, I said goodbye to “Thatcher” and began looking at “Thatcherism”. I began to reflect upon the political hangover that we are the real victims of. The bedroom tax. £53 a week. The seven class system.
Let’s channel our energies into creating a steadfast regeneration of the left, a political ideology that embraces the ideals that have been branded impossible in recent politics – empathy, love, diversity and freedom. Now with seven classes to deal with rather than three, a united front is needed more than ever. Learning from the past, there is hope that Thatcherism could one day be a fusty ideology, rather than the foundations of “compassionate” conservatism that Cameron and his cohorts ironically preach today. I may not be praying for a state funeral, but I know I won’t be torching statuettes. After all, it is better to be branded “a pygmie” than inhuman.