Thatcher – cutting through the hype

I’ve tried to resist posting on Margaret Thatcher’s death – lots has been written already from both sides of the political divide. But although I’ve tweeted about it, there are still things to be said that don’t fit into a series of 140 character statements! So, here goes.

Having been born in 1957, I was 22 when Thatcher came into power in 1979. I had just started my PhD at UCL and lived in inner London. I was, as now, a Labour supporter (although I wasn’t a member then). It’s really hard to express the feelings of sheer desperation that people in my position felt as she set about the systematic destruction of our industrial base, and the removal of much of what might be called a caring and responsible society. Add to that her allegiance with Reagan, and our misery and despair were complete. As a pro-European, I hated what she did in Europe, supposedly on our behalf. And it’s ironic now that her descendants are attacking what they call the ‘benefits culture’, when the existence of large numbers of people on benefit might never have happened but for her destruction of our heavy industries. As I said in one of my tweets yesterday, they were bad years that I would rather forget.

Finally, to expand on my tweets of yesterday, I was incensed by the sycophantic ‘tributes’ being paid by former political opponents. People that openly detested Thatcher when she was PM came out and said things like Paddy Ashdown, who claimed that she was ‘undoubtedly the greatest PM of our age’. Such people are displaying selective memory syndrome, at the best!

For those who have said that she was a wife and mother – yes she was, and her relatives and friends are entitled to mourn her passing. But for those of us that suffered from her policies, hopefully this marks the end of an era of British politics that is best forgotten.

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8 thoughts on “Thatcher – cutting through the hype”

  1. I’m not a Thatcherite, but something needed to be done about the1970’s industrial base you refer to, and its workforce. It was mainly inefficient, losing money and outdated at best. Problem is, Thatcher went too far with everything. What Dr Beeching did to the railways, Thatcher did to everything else. We now import coal for gods sake !

  2. What do you feel might have halted, what seems to me to be an inevitable decline in heavy manufacturing? All EU and US industries started to move their heavy engineering, mining etc out to Asia (a trend that continues).

    Many events in life happen at the time that something else happens, but that is not cause and effect. I am interested in working out what the plan that Thatcher ‘should’ have adopted might have been….

    1. That’s a good question! It was a very different time then, but if some attempt had been made to find alternative employment, or training, for those affected it would have made a difference.

      1. How do you think the Thatcher government response to unemployment then peaking officially at around 3.5m compares to the current government’s response?

        I am interested since I worked in employee relations then and now and I can see some parallels between the times but also differences..

  3. I think the main difference is that now there is more awareness of the possible effect of such changes, and attempts are made to provide redeployment opportunities, as has happened in the northeast, I believe. What happened before was that whole communities lost their main (and often only) source of employment, and in many cases they have remained unemployment back spots ever since.

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