The world's heart is heavy as we have learned of the death of the most brilliant leader the world has even known -- the blessed Margaret.
It was the saintly Margaret who rescued Britain from its dire position at the end of the 1970s and restored it to its former glory.
When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, Britain ranked perilously low in the ranking for so many important indicators of power and influence.
For example, suicides among small-business owners were at an all-time low. The nanny state fostered by successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, had misleadingly protected incompetent entrepreneurs from the consequences of the market. Not under Maggie! Those cowardly safety nets were whisked away within a few years, and if you couldn't stand on your own feet -- well there was always hanging yourself to take the weight off. The suicide rate soared and a lot of useless riff-raff who kept whinging about society's responsibility were removed from the voting registers. Good riddance!
She had the courage to do away with the foolish notion that the unemployed should have jobs. Especially feckless youth. Thatcher managed to get the unemployment numbers up to over three million in the space of just 2 years! No easy feat. David Cameron's government is doing its best to emulate Thatcher's achievement -- but so far they are mere pygmies next to Thatcher when it comes to destroying the working class.
Thatcher was no slouch when it came to auctioning off Britain's precious natural resources for short-term profit. North Sea oil, coal, power, steel, municipal housing for the poor, telecommunications and eventually the railways, Whatever the national treasure -- she had the courage and wisdom to sell it off and harvest the immediate electoral returns. Of course there were a few namby-pamby socialists such as former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who complained that this was akin to selling off the family silver for immediate gratification -- but fortunately Thatcher did not pay any heed to such drivel. Which is why services such as the privatized trains in Britain are so revered today by its citizens. And the companies who leeched mega-profits from the fire-sale of Britain's national assets are especially grateful to the Iron Lady.
There are always detractors to any success story. No good deed goes unpunished. So when Thatcher gave enormous pay rises to the British police and then used them as her dependable Gestapo to attack the unions -- especially the impoverished miners -- there were inevitably some people who carped about it. But we're talking mainly about the widows and children of those who died during the police attacks on the picket lines -- and no one who was likely to have ever voted Conservative -- so what the hell!
It is true that Thatcher had a few minor scrapes with the public. Her poll tax that aimed to rid the voting rolls of a lot of working class and immigrant trash likely to vote Labour was eventually repealed because of the rabble on the streets demanding justice and fairness and other communist slogans. There's always some little thing...
On the other hand there were many, many successes. The widespread riots in 1981 against her economic policies made a perfect setting for the Specials song "Ghost Town" -- which may not have reached number one in the charts without that backdrop.
Among the many Thatcher legacies: Ghost Towns throughout Britain...
Her instigation of the new laws that allowed the police to harass racial minorities was exceptional and should not be forgotten. The scores of British minority youths arrested and imprisoned during the Thatcher years certainly have reason to remember her with appropriate affection. After all many of those prison cells were more comfortable than their homes.
Homosexualists had the nerve to protest against her which fortunately Margaret ignored. In 1988 she declared very forcefully "Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay." She soon stopped that with Section 28 of the Local Government Act of 1988. Now it didn't go far enough of course. The limp-wristed were not forced to wear a pink star on their clothes. But the law did help repress the scourge of aberrant behavior until it was regrettably repealed by the pinko Tony Blair government. But let the record show that Thatcher did her best to stem the degenerate gay tide.
Perhaps her most unsung claim to British gratitude is the way national pride was restored in the vexed area of soccer hooliganism. Under the lamentable policies of the Labour Party in the 1960s and 1970s, Britain had slipped right down the table of nations in terms of the number of deaths caused at soccer games. But after a few years of her take-no-prisoners policy towards riff-raff and the rising rate of unemployment among those dreadful working class youths who littered the population, British soccer fans were able to kill off far more rival soccer supporters than any other nation! We beat the awful Argies (Argentina), the useless Uruguayans and the light-weight Peruvians. Talk about "sudden-death"... Now British soccer fans delivered it better than ever! Let no one deny Thatcher her share of credit for that.
Margaret was also exceptionally loyal. While some had the temerity to abandon General Augusto Pinochet merely because he had presided over the brutal slaughter of tens of thousands of Chilean citizens after he had led a military coup that deposed the democratically-elected president Salvadore Allende -- it was Thatcher who saw the pragmatic side. The dead were a just bunch of lefties in a blanket-and-sandals wearing Third-World country that no one could find on the map anyway! So what was the big deal?! She treated Pinochet to all the respect and worship that a reactionary despotic murderer deserved.
Now on the topic of loyalty, one cannot gloss over the fact that almost every single senior cabinet minister she raised, promoted and nurtured eventually abandoned her and betrayed her. Complaining that she was autocratic, overbearing, uncompassionate, unwilling to engage in debate. So picky! And it was those betrayals rather than the actions of the opposition Labour Party that led to her political demise. Well technically that is correct. But things have come to a pretty fine pass when a Prime Minister can't dictate to cabinet minsters what they should be thinking!
There are some who complained that she cynically manufactured the 1982 crisis over the Falkland Islands. That she riled up the worst jingoistic tendencies of the British by sending a massive naval task force to protect the rights of a couple of hundred Islanders (and their related sheep) just to divert attention from the dreadful domestic economy and soaring unemployment rates. They whinge that she intentionally gave the command for the sinking of the Argentine ship the Belgrano -- even though it was complying with requests to withdraw at the time and torpedoing the vessel was the equivalent of shooting a retreating soldier in the back. What a lot of tosh! They were only Argies! And only 323 of them died in the sinking. Gotcha?! Oh yeah!
Thatcher in the tank (for Reagan, Pinochet, Khmer Rouge, de Klerk etc etc)
She certainly showed her guts! That Welsh windbag Neil Kinnock, said that it was a pity 260 British troops had to spill their guts to prove that SHE had guts. But hey! Those troops signed up for the military. They got three squares a day and a chance to see the world. How many of their unwashed, unemployed brethren got to see the South Atlantic?! So just over a couple of hundred of them perished. Hard cheese! You had the privilege of serving Mrs Thatcher. Death comes with the territory... (As do sheep and penguins).
Thatcher's Falklands adventure helped her distract unwelcome attention from the economy and ride a tide of "patriotism" into a re-election victory. Ronald Reagan duly noted how a lazy media -- and an even lazier electorate -- could be swept up in jingoism even when a massive Western power picks a fight with a far weaker foe. Hence the invasion of the dangerous island of Grenada just in time for Reagan's re-election campaign. Thatcher deserves her share of credit for inspiring Reagan and the great benefits that his 1984 reelection brought to the gay community and the social and economic underclasses in the USA.
Margaret Thatcher also deserves credit for the high opinion in which Nelson Mandela is held. When the international community called for sanctions against South Africa while it continued to engage in apartheid -- Thatcher nobly resisted. She didn't think it would make any difference. The apartheid government of South Africa thus stayed in power throughout the Thatcher years. And Nelson Mandela stayed safely locked up in prison. Had Thatcher allowed the UK to join international sanctions against South Africa, Mandela might have been released much earlier. How heroic would he have seemed with a mere 16 years of imprisonment mentioned on his Wikipedia page?! There is no question that Thatcher's adamant refusal to apply sanctions against the racist South African government helped Mandela tot up those eleven useful extra years that helped his image. Another astute decision that Thatcher is rarely thanked for.
Then there were the 96 Liverpool soccer fans who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The police force that vast pay-raises had made so gauleiter-loyal to Thatcher rewarded her by lying through their teeth to Thatcher about the causes. Rather than acknowledge their own culpability, they blamed the dead fans. "They were all drunken thugs who caused their own death." A weaker Prime Minister might have questioned the independence of this blame-laying. But not good old Maggie! She accepted and repeated the accusation. And -- along with her reliable stooges at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Sun -- she publicly damned the deceased as having been responsible for their own deaths. Attagirl Maggie! The fact that it was later proved that Thatcher's police loyalists had completely fabricated this storyline was not her fault. She couldn't be expected to keep track of which of her taxpayer-paid apparatchiks were liars...
Any more than she should have done due diligence on her close friend the mass-paedophile Jimmy Savile before she proposed him for a prestigious knighthood in 1990.
Perhaps her best claim to fame is how she demolished the foolish notion that there is any societal obligation towards individuals. In a very famous quote in 1987 she declared: "There's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families." That put the boot in to all the Kumbaya set endlessly bleating about some artificial notions called "community" and "society". Surprisingly, Her Majesty the Queen discreetly let it be known that she was alarmed by Thatcher saying that. After all, the continuation of the royal family and the British establishment does depend upon at least paying lip service to the illusion of fairness and concern for the Great Unwashed. The Queen thought that Thatcher's utterance was a little too honest. But that's what made Maggie Thatcher so wonderful. She just didn't care...
There are some who look at Margaret Thatcher and see a petty-minded, venal, hateful, post-menopausal harridan -- who furrowed her brow in faux concern, who used a synthetic voice that elocution lessons gave her, who had a care for her country that was every bit as genuine as the hair-dryer-blown cotton-candy hairdo that crowned her head. They see a vengeful, mean-spirited, small-town upstart who projected a fanciful 1950s idealized white suburban paradise onto the real cosmopolitan Britain of the 1980s. They see a woman who ruled because the men in her party were wimpy eunuchs and the political opposition too cowed and ineffective. One well-aimed bucket of ice-cold water -- drenching her and her confectionary-spun hair and make-up -- and all the similarly faux platitudes that she spouted -- might have had the same effect as Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal the charlatan Wizard of Oz behind the drapes. But that water was never hurled. (Except on one memorable occasion on UK TV by a courageous citizen - see below). And just as the Reaganites have labored hard to fashion a post-death mythology of their hero , there are Thatcherites now toiling to spin the legend of St. Margaret. HAG-iography indeed... Tramp The Dirt Down. Meanwhile the British nation is shrouded in deepest mourning...
Elvis Costello's 1989 Thatcher tribute "Tramp The Dirt Down"
Thatcher exposed and rattled by citizen-hero Diana Gould in 1983
Private Eye satirist John Wells and humorist-producer Martin Lewis teamed up in 1979 for this ahead-of-its-time tribute to Margaret Thatcher...