On Margaret Thatcher

P1000141I can’t add very much to what’s been written in the last 24 hours about Margaret Thatcher. She tried to define the country I grew up, but so many of the things she hated – the NHS, free education, public libraries, council housing, a benefit system to support you when you’re down, different cultures and ways of living, the arts and creativity – they’re all still here. She fought hard but she lost. The British love those things too much.

This blog explains better than I can the reason we must keep talking, critically, about her:

… history is currently being re-written.  Throughout the day, right-wing commentators have been acclaiming Thatcher as one of our great Prime Ministers.  Not only acclaiming her, but demanding that opponents keep quiet as a mark of respect for her passing.  Of course, this was not about a mark of respect, but presenting the right with an opportunity to whitewash her record and present her as a modern-day Churchill.

And while we’re being shouted at on social media to not speak ill of the dead and respect her family’s grief* here’s a good explanation of why that ‘we mustn’t speak ill of the dead’ idea is dangerous:

those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography

Let’s not forget about Margaret Thatcher, but let’s not celebrate her as a great British woman, as if that rise to power in a male-dominated culture excuse everything else. Compared to the Sufragettes, Nancy Astor MP, Edith Summerskill, the Land Army, Anita Roddick, Lilian Baylis, Amy Johnson, Nancy Mitford, Sue Ryder, Kate Sharpley, Mary Wolstonecraft, Edith Cavell, Elizabeth Fry, Mo Mowlem – and to our own schoolteachers, nurses, lollypop ladies, mums, nans and aunts – she wasn’t a high achiever at all.

*They weren’t at her side when she died. She died in the luxury of a hotel, with just her paid staff in attendance.

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