I didn’t much like my country last week because I saw a side to it that was ugly and coarse and cruel. Maggie Thatcher wasn’t even cold before the tsunami of hatred crashed through the plaudits like a poison riptide. “The Witch is dead”, “Rot in Hell”, “Rejoice, Thatcher is dead” said the vile banners, even though many of those brandishing them weren’t even alive when Thatcher was in power. How ironic that the people screaming she’d wrecked the country and wrecked their lives still had enough money to buy champagne to drink to her death, to shout that they hoped it was a painful and degrading one.
What kind of country are we when people rejoice that an old lady had a stroke and died?
Lady Thatcher’s death has brought the revellers joining Gerry Adams and George Galloway in applauding her death (the ultimate projection being Galloway accusing Thatcher of being a friend to dictators). Still, the difference between Thatcher and Adams is that when he dies no one will party in Catholic areas of Northern Ireland – because they’d be shot.
Thatcher’s biggest crime back then was not thinking through what the people she threw out of work would do afterwards and then doing nothing to help them rebuild their lives. That WAS a crime. As for the pits people talk of so romantically, show me one mother who’d want her son to work a mile underground in that dankness, one wife who’d want her husband bent double for eight hours at a stretch in 3ft coal seams while his lungs were eaten by coal dust.
Have those people screaming about pit closures ever watched a man die of black lung (pneumoconiosis)? Don’t they know Scargill is every bit as responsible for the death of the pits as Thatcher because of the strikes he called without balloting his men… men who hated him a damn sight more than they hated Thatcher.
Yes, free speech is our right, but does it have to involve calls to “p*** on her grave” because that shames us all in the eyes of a world Thatcher taught to respect us? And it’s not just the cruelty that’s been shocking – it’s the unbridled sexism. Yes, there were things all of us disliked about Thatcher, but it’s foolish to deny she was a political colossus with bigger balls than all of our politicians today put together.
And how sad that her memory – any old lady’s memory – is being rubbished by armies of two-bob anarchists who’d sell their granny for a bit of media attention. These people haven’t just trashed Thatcher. They’ve trashed one of our last taboos – that you don’t speak ill of the dead. Now, there is no respect for the dead. And soon there’ll be no respect for anything.
When these people shout that Maggie made everyone selfish, are they just projecting their own guilt? Possibly. Still, for today let us take a minute to think about those poor legions of angry Thatcher-haters – what are they going to do with their empty lives now?