9 April 2013
The death of Margaret Thatcher is said to have sparked celebrations in the UK everywhere north of Birmingham. Thatcher was a black and white, unnuanced politician – in the face of opposition, she declared “you can u-turn but this lady’s not for turning” (she was also nicknamed “Tina”, being “there is no alternative”). She was divisive, no doubt about that, and her policies might be regarded as having been socially and economically harmful; even her own party came to recognise that and turned to the more congenial John Major. But people bandying around terms like “wicked” and “evil” are way over the top. Billy Bragg has a sensible out take on his Facebook page:
This is not a time for celebration. The death of Margaret Thatcher is nothing more than a salient reminder of how Britain got into the mess that we are in today. Of why ordinary working people are no longer able to earn enough from one job to support a family; of why there is a shortage of decent affordable housing; of why domestic growth is driven by credit, not by real incomes; of why tax-payers are forced to top up wages; of why a spiteful government seeks to penalise the poor for having an extra bedroom; of why Rupert Murdoch became so powerful; of why cynicism and greed became the hallmarks of our society.
Raising a glass to the death of an infirm old lady changes none of this. The only real antidote to cynicism is activism. Don’t celebrate – organise!
The comments on Bragg’s post show how divided opinion is on Thatcher and her legacy – and, indeed, on Billy Bragg.