I’m just a tiny, tiny bit sad today.
So, Thatcher’s dead. I live in the town where she was born and raised. There are inevitably some who are in deep mourning today, and a few little bunches of flowers have appeared outside the corner shop that was her first family home. On the other hand, there’s also quite a bit of celebrating, and I was speaking to a woman today who said she just hopes that Cameron and Osborne and all the rest of them do the decent thing and jump onto her funeral pyre. Given the fact that her home town, once well-known for its heavy industry, is now largely silent because of Thatcher’s policies, you can see her point.
For myself, I must confess that a very tiny part of me is sad. Whilst she still breathed there was a miniscule theoretical possibility that she could be held to account for the vast crimes against humanity, in general, and the British people, in particular, that were committed by her government. I’m truly sad that even that miniscule theoretical possibility has been permanently snuffed out.
Three years into her reign a poll published in the Times revealed that she was the most unpopular British prime minister in history. And then things got worse.
She began by causing the deaths of a thousand people over a clump of wind-blown rocks 8,000 miles away from Britain, supposedly to defend the right of 2,000 people to call themselves British. It would have been cheaper for this supposed champion of democracy and devotee of Chicago-school economics to pay for those people to move lock, stock and barrel to the UK, accommodate them and give them all Income Support for the rest of their lives, than to wage a war and support a military garrison on the Malvinas to the end of time. But that little fact is always conveniently overlooked.
Thatcher’s foreign policies had one striking feature in common: her government’s support of murderous dictatorships was total; and the line-up of tyrants who enjoyed the backing of her government is quite impressive. There was Pol Pot, for example, and the unspeakable Suharto in Indonesia. Everyone knows about the blood-soaked Pinochet whose evasion from justice was actively assisted by Thatcher’s government. Less well known about are the assortment of Middle-Eastern despots her government aided; but the daddy of them all, the most ruthless oppressor on the face of the Earth, the US government, was always Thatcher’s favourite; and she made significant contributions to its goal of world domination. It’s impossible to know how many tens, if not hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths were aided and abetted by Thatcher’s government.
Impressive though her foreign policies obviously were, they pale to insignificance compared with the treacherous actions of her government against the British people. Her mission from the outset was to kill-off the trade union movement which, for all its imperfections, was the only real champion the ordinary Briton had. Once that was done it was game over, lambs fattened and ready for slaughter. She proceeded to kill-off the main source of Britain’s wealth, our manufacturing base; and then rapidly sold off every bit of family silver she could get her hands on. In quick succession Britain’s essential publicly owned utilities were flogged at fire-sale prices: transport, water, electricity, communications, gas… all went under the hammer. Millions of jobs were trashed or scrapped altogether, and then she turned her attention to the last remaining protection the British people had: public services. Why did she do all this? Just so a tiny, tiny handful of obscenely wealthy people could become even more obscenely wealthy.
What a great legacy. You can see why people want to put up statues to her.
The economic wasteland that Britain is today is not all Thatcher’s fault: others followed her who could have put things right, but didn’t. Nevertheless, it was Thatcher who started the ball rolling.
There was never any real chance that Thatcher would have to account for her crimes, but I am truly sad that the miniscule theoretical possibility that she could have been brought to justice is now gone forever.