Weep not for Thatcher – but for Lost Society


Most people leave the world having made a difference to it, and its people, but the world can witness very few to have damaged it as much as Margaret Thatcher has done. This is not a time for blindness and false sentiment, and the wise would do well to dwell on what we have lost, to understand how it happened, and to avert further destruction. For we have lost the very best of our society, hope, justice  and the prospects of equal opportunities for all.

Our tragedy is not only  the eighteen years of Tory rule, but that so much damage was inflicted,  so demoralised and fearful was the opposition, that the Labour movement which had achieved so much, was weakened and divided. As a consequence, “New Labour” squandered its power in her wake.

How tragic it was for the advancement of women that it had to be she, Margaret Thatcher who was destined to become Britain’s first woman prime minister.  She may not have been the woman for turning, yet held back women’s rights, by decades … by a century even .. and still women and children suffer more than any other group.

Clever, yet immoral, she abused her power. Cynically she divided working people. While she denied the existence of society, she ensured its demise.

And how? She did so by dividing workers against workers… she cultured greed by enticing and bribing the working class so that they believed they could escape from a mundane existence, to have some of the wealth they saw the rich enjoy.

We should consider how Osborne’s recent rhetoric about the welfare state coldly echoes her methods.

After the war people said, “Never Again” and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in rebuilding society for everyone to benefit.  Thatcher’s neoliberalism ensured that it would be dismantled, and all that was good would be taken and given to the rich financiers. Her direct attack on trade unionism led to rising unemployment levels and  workers’ rights were eroded.

While men and women were without work, manufacturing industries everywhere closed down, as cheap labour elsewhere was abused… Thatcher’s Britain ignored the obvious fact that growth is possible because of people, their labour, their knowledge, their skills and their initiative. We were importing products, and food which could have been produced at home. But Thatcher’s Britain was all about finance, bankers, insurance and financial profit. For a few.

Tony Benn talks about Thatcherism and the rotten philosophies of the Tory government in the 1980s.

We should contemplate today how the Coalition government is eroding human rights, attacking the ill, the disabled….and wonder where compassion went.

She discouraged compassion. Her premiership began by savage cuts to public services on her election, which angered many and deprived a generation of any prospects. It should have been one term only, but for an engineered war with Argentina over the Falklands. Likewise, it is no certainty that this current government will govern for one term only, and the left must be united in opposition.

And so she began to privatize our basic needs, the banks holding the people to ransom – selling off our water, energy, and transport – by offering shares to ordinary people. And so cleverly did she dupe Britain’s working people into buying into the utilities they already owned.  People, who bought those shares, now can’t afford the gas bills!

Thatcherism is very much still alive. Now the Coalition government  has set about to privatise our most precious National Health Service,  and set about breaking up state education ready for profiteers, and we can look towards private prisons…, police, and army. Thatcher made council houses available for tenants to buy, yet did not replace them, leading directly to the housing crisis today. Thatcherite policies are directly responsible for the loss of our society, and of our democratic control over factors which affect every aspect of our lives – as power has been handed over to the rich and powerful, effectively it has led to neofeudalism.

The gap between rich and poor is greater than ever. Thatcher may have been clever in how she manipulated people to exhibit their worst characteristics – their greed and selfishness. But the truth is she was wrong, and not just morally wrong. Neoliberalism is fundamentally flawed, and  unsustainable. Wealth, development  and growth comes not from banks and bonds but from the labour of men and women, their education, skills, knowledge and from the earth’s resources and money has no real worth.  People must work together.

I hope that Ed Miliband’s One Nation will unite ordinary people to a common aim, and bring back compassion, co-operation and an acceptance of mutual responsibility. We are a community, not a collection of individuals. We are interdependent and cannot live as islands.  It’s time to put Thatcherism and neoliberalism to an end, then we can all rest, in peace.

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