There’s something that has been playing on my mind for most of the last week. Something that has made me cringe when both sides have spoken. It’s…a very divisive issue, especially in the UK. Something that has had people sneering at others, had others acting kind of idiotically and just made you realise how passionately some people felt about this.
Let’s face it, whatever the right say, Thatcher was not popular. It doesn’t matter anymore how popular she was in the past, and it doesn’t matter what the reasons for her winning re-elections was. It doesn’t matter if milk had already been taken from over 12s before she took it from the under 12s. No matter what arguments you look at, a popular person would not have prompted parties upon their death.
I don’t agree with celebrating someone’s death. It’s…unBritish. And by that, I mean it’s not polite. It’s almost crude, in a way, but that’s not to say I can’t see why people were happy when she did die. There are people out there who, because of her, are unemployed, who struggle every day just to make ends meet. It’s a two-edged sword, really. And yes, it’s wrong to celebrate her death, but I don’t see any reason to criticise those people who may have been happy about it, or who maybe had a drink or two. The way I see it, people should have just been left to do what they wanted. They’re not actually hurting anyone, and those people who cried “Oh but her family!” aren’t seeing the point. Her family, if they have any sort of realism about them, should know what the reaction would be upon her death. And…okay, maybe people shouldn’t have had parties. But they sure as hell should be okay to ‘celebrate’ in private.
There was an interesting article on The Guardian (which I can’t find again because the search button hates me or something) regarding the whole ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ phrase, and how it applies to Thatcher. Essentially, the point made was that it doesn’t apply. Not to someone who was in the public eye, and not when you have the right celebrating her and praising her at every corner. The point made was basically, there are two sides to the debate, and you can’t use that phrase to silence one side. Thatcher, even in death, has divided people right down the middle, and why shouldn’t the left get their say? Why shouldn’t the people who were affected by what she did, get their say?
One argument I’ve seen crop up about the criticism surrounding Thatcher is that it comes from people too young. As in, people who weren’t there. The right have been fond of saying “You can’t remember, so you can’t criticise.”
It’s bullshit for a variety of reasons. Saying someone cannot look at the past and form their own opinions, just because they weren’t there, is ridiculous. If it was true, why the hell do we study History? Secondly, just because someone my age, or slightly younger, wasn’t alive during Thatcher’s reign doesn’t mean they haven’t lived with the shadow of it.
The stupid thing is, the Conservative party are just dismissing the comments about Thatcher. Instead, they should be looking at why people feel this way. Especially now, with the current climate we’re in. People are unemployed. People who would have previous worked in mines or factories don’t have jobs in their local area. Whether or not that’s because of Thatcher is almost irrelevant; people feel that it’s because of her, and that’s why her death has produced the reactions she has. It’s all well and good to say “It’s disgraceful that people are happy over her death,” if you’ve been able to get a job, or have lived in a relatively well off area. And I count myself among them. I was able to go to University. I have been able to come out and get a job in an office. Yay for me.
But if you live in areas that largely relied on coal mining, in communities where mining sustained them, then you probably know someone who lost their job under Thatcher. Maybe they’ve never been able to get another long term. Maybe mining was something you would have gone into, if it was still a viable option.
And let’s face it, the strikes of that time have been prevalent in pop culture. I live in South Wales; mining is a part of my history, even if the town I live in was never a mining community. But there’s the valleys, not far away. And I studied in the North of England, where I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who really felt for the Swansea mining tragedy a few years ago. Mining communities feel for each other, even now. Even when they’re no longer mining communities. And the response to the Swansea tragedy in the North was…well, it was like an understanding. Even among those people who had never grown up with a mine nearby. Because our history shapes us. And part of that history was made more horrible under Thatcher, with the strikes and the effect it had not just on the people on strike, but on generations following.
The best way, I think, to sum up the point – not just about history, how it links us, but also about the strikes – is a music video, by a Welsh band.
The key lyric there? Your history is mine.
There is a very good reason people hated Thatcher. And I’ve tried to lay this out diplomatically up until now, simply because I know it’s a hard subject. Because I know I don’t have enough specialised knowledge to say this happened directly because of that. (Not because I’m too young, but because I haven’t looked into it, okay?) But…well, the images in that video are images I have grown up with. How many times have the strikes come up in popular culture? And what’s betting that when they have, it’s the people living in South Wales and the North of England who are hit hardest by it?
Okay, so, now, getting to the reason for the title of this piece. And as a warning…there is going to be some swearing here.
There are cuts left right and centre, for everything you can think of. Education, health, benefits. Libraries closing, people unable to find a job. ‘Focus’ on getting youth employment up has been nothing more than getting people between the ages of 18 – 25 working for periods of time, unpaid.
And yet we’re spending TEN FUCKING MILLION on a funeral??
Seriously. That’s just…it’s messed up. Totally and unbelievably messed up. And they’re expecting people to just sit back and twiddle their thumbs, to remain quiet about this when there are people who don’t know if they’re going to have a job in a month?
Thatcher’s legacy is a broken, divided country, and not just because of her actions as PM. It’s her death that’s causing it now, and whatever blame you place or don’t place on her, the Conservatives deserve any protest thrown at them. I am not an advocate of violence. But if there are any disruptions during the funeral, who is really going to be surprised? We have a government determined to let the have’s keep having while the have not’s slowly lose everything. And this funeral is just going to make things worse.
Her death has caused a huge divide in this country. And it’s only going to get worse. We’re supposed to have free speech, but God forbid you say anything against her. And how can anyone act surprised that Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead has risen in the charts? The charts are the people’s new way of getting their voices heard, and they’re still trying to squash it.
Okay. Right. Rant over. And if you have read this far…thank you for indulging me. Thanks for letting me rant, and – to everyone who has liked, commented or followed in the past – thank you (massively) for making me feel that this little blog is the place where I can do this.
And if you do have anything to say about this whole thing, please feel free to comment. I am always open to discussions – and debates – about everything I post here.