Possibly the most polarising figure of British politics across any era, Margaret Thatcher remains as divisive in death as she was in life. Wrangling over welfare cuts and simmering brinkmanship in
temporarily tossed to the inside pages, on the announcement of the former Prime
Minister’s passing. The great, the good, the guarded and the grumpy, were
queuing up to extol and eulogize, or verbally eviscerate. No matter what your
opinion of her, it was hard not to have one. North Korea
The PM cut short his intended itinerary in Europe, dashing to
Downing Street and leaving the French
President without a dinner date. Pomp before politics perhaps, but he was never
going to miss this moment, or worse still, leave the tribute to a Tory titan to
his Lib Dem Deputy. David Cameron paid tribute to the “patriot Prime Minister”,
and her “lion-hearted love of this country”, a nation he said she not only lead,
but “saved”. Perhaps conscious of an impending onslaught of less obsequious outpourings,
Mr Cameron concluded with a reminder that Mrs Thatcher was also “a mother and
grandmother, and we should think of her family tonight.” It appears that those
popping champagne corks around the lions of Trafalgar Square may not have heard him.
The emotions erupting across every social media platform in response to her death speak to the deep division Baroness Thatcher still elicits. Time has clearly not healed all wounds. The passion with which she was both praised and pilloried suggested the rupturing of ancient, long-untapped arteries of antagonism, which were more than equal to the admiration she also inspired.
Growing up as children of teachers, our standard of living stagnated as health and education spending was steadily eroded. I may have been trained to detest the avarice which underpinned Thatcher’s economic policies in the 1980s, but the enlightenment of education and adulthood furnished me with my own reasons to continue my disenchantment.
The relaxing of banking regulation in October 1986 is directly responsible for the casino culture that caused the financial crisis, and the grand privatisations just produced companies who will always put profit before investment in infrastructure and provision of affordable public services. That is why the only thing many rail commuters can rely on today is an over-inflation fare increase every January.
Those that loved Baroness Thatcher should be allowed to mourn their loss, and as for the rest of us, surely celebrating the death of an elderly grandmother has no place in a civilised society. She may have said; “there is no such thing as a society,” but that was just another thing she was wrong about.
Thatcher died in the Ritz Hotel, while many of those on the sharp end of her economic policies would be hard pushed to meet their maker in a Travel Lodge. Tormenting her memory on twitter won’t change anything, compassion and using your vote just might.