New Internationalist

Dancing on Maggie Thatcher’s grave


Alan Hughes will be celebrating the death of Thatcher. Photo: TheArches, reproduced under a CC license.

I’ve just read a highly thought-provoking article by Owen Jones entitled, ‘Not all socialists want to dance on Margaret Thatcher’s grave. I want her to go on and on’.

In it he states, ‘...while Thatcher-hate is understandable, it is futile. Celebrating the prospect of her death has become an admittedly macabre substitute for the failure to defeat Thatcherism. The Iron Lady will die knowing her legacy is stronger than ever. It will only be worth celebrating when Thatcherism is finally purged from this country, and a Britain run in the interests of working people is built. Then we really can rejoice.’

It’s a good point. Are we Thatcher-haters distracted by the thought of celebrating her imminent demise (by all accounts she is seriously ill) and losing sight of the real struggle – the ongoing fight against Thatcher’s heirs, a Tory-led coalition hell bent on destroying the welfare state? Does this stop us from focusing – as Jones puts it – on building an economy that works for working people?

Well, I would argue it’s not an ‘either or’. I plan to celebrate Thatcher’s passing, along with thousands of others who loathe everything she did and everything she stands for. But I also plan to carry on fighting for a fairer, more just society; for a strong, democratic socialist alternative to free market madness.

And to those who argue that it is wrong to take joy from another human being’s death then I say take a long hard look at Thatcher’s legacy. Take a look at the communities she destroyed, the lives broken by her cruel, cynical, despicable policies. I lived through the 1980s. I witnessed the destruction of our industrial base, the millions of jobs that went with it and the tragic consequences. I witnessed the brutal attacks on the miners and their communities.

And, whatever her supporters say, Thatcher left behind a legacy of greed, entrenched inequality and economic failure. The roots of today’s current financial chaos can be traced directly back to October 1986, when the biggest revolution in the financial markets took place. Thatcher saw London being overtaken as the centre of world finance by New York and she decided that its problem was over-regulation. Ultimately this led to the now infamous credit crunch. Weak banking regulations led to the irresponsible lending that triggered what could be described as capitalism’s greatest crisis.

It goes on and on...the war in the Atlantic and the illegal sinking of the Belgrano taking with it the lives of 323 Argentines; the selling off of thousands of council houses and 20 state-controlled companies including British Telecom; the vicious attacks on Trade Union rights; the hated Poll Tax and much more.

Margaret Thatcher will never be forgiven.. She was callously indifferent to the suffering of those she made jobless or snubbed as she set out to destroy entire industries in an appalling act of political and social vandalism. Thatcher’s legacy is the drug abuse and crime in communities deliberately stripped of work and dignity. Greed was her mantra.

Someone once said: ‘Thatcher wasn’t bad for Britain...she was terrible.’

My champagne is on ice, waiting for the big day.

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