Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thatcher's Legacy

Controversy still surrounds the "not quite" state funeral of Margaret Thatcher. A ComRes poll of 2,012 found strong opposition to state funding with 60% against and 25% for. So, it really isn't that controversial - the public don't want it, the Government isn't listening. Even the Bishop of Grantham (the Iron Lady's home town) has called the funeral a mistake. Unless you're in the midst of a swelling of the rabid right, you're unlikely to find support for it.

The DailyMail (a wet rag of a newspaper more commonly associated with picture book Victoria Secret's exclusives than journalism) continues its "witch hunt against the living whom might speak ill of the dead". Two teachers, a policeman and a student so far. It naturally has forgotten its own disgraceful character assassination of the opposition Leader Michael Foot, two days after his death. Well, it happened in 2010 ... that's like ancient history. The DailyMail, a staunch fighter for press and media freedom, has also been ranting against the BBC for allowing the DingDong song to be played.

Under political and media pressure the bumbling BBC has decided to cut short Judy Garland's song 'Ding Ding the Witch is Dead' in the chart show. According to the DailyMail the failure to censor  the song hands victory to the 'Trots and Loony Left'. Iron Lady supporters have their own anthem with the bizarrely co-opted anti-Thatcher song 'I love Margaret Thatcher'. The BBC has decided not to cut this latter song despite the song's success representing exactly the same sort of political gesturing that some wanted the previous song censored for.

Glenda Jackson has also been castigated by many of the rabid right for speaking her own mind in an attempt to stop Margaret Thatcher's history being re-written. Glenda has received overwhelming public support for this. The DailyMail called her "demented".

Will Hutton has asked a perfectly reasonable set of questions on the legend of the Iron Lady saving Britain and whether all that happened was a set of short-term measures (selling national assets, credit de-regulation) to fuel a debt driven boom. I'm sure shouts of controversy with demands for censorship, persecution and castigation will follow in short order.

... and so it has continued.

Now, we could talk about the economic and political policies of Lady T's reign. Some were fine, others were not. But you have to understand that to some of the right, Lady T was their deity. Hence all the hostility against those who doubt her and the desire to worship such a divisive idol. In their world, you're either a paid up member of the rabid right or you're a demented member of the loony left. There is no shades of grey (oh, and just in case you're in doubt then there are some on the left who are just as equally blinkered of the other side).

So any discussion of Thatcher's legacy is bound to be fraught with trouble. The reality is there was some good and bad, depending upon who you were. The longer term effects were all cultural - the shift towards short-termism, brutal individual self interest and a focus on economic dogma over society. Again, whether you think those are a good or a bad thing will depend upon your perspective.

However these demands for censorship, persecution and castigation for failing to worship a specific groups' idol are disturbing. Though there has been talk of 'pre-emptive' arrests, we haven't stooped so low as to arrest people for 'insufficient sobbing' but that's because we still have some fragments of civil liberties left (bleeding heart liberal that I am).

Expect more name calling, rabid ranting and persecution of the living.