Tonight I will light a candle to the many
Contribution from Suzanne Kelsey
I appreciate there will always be huge differences of opinion regarding politics and there will be many thousands of people who have attended Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and I am not affected by this. (although I do take offence at the obscene amount of money it is costing during a time of severe austerity) Also many thousands will have watched it at home caught up in the pomp, circumstance and emotion of the occasion, that is obviously their right just as it is my right not to watch it. I cannot be a hypocrite unlike some of her own party who actually stabbed her in the back, which resulted in a very undignified exit from no.10 in 1990.
Therefore I do hope in the same way people will not take offence if I in my own way reminisce on why I do not think Margaret Thatcher left this country in a better state and show my respect to all those who suffered and continue to do so due to the extreme ideologies surrounding Thatcherism. Her death sad as it is for her family, friends and admirers for me has been a salient reminder of how it all started to go wrong and brought to my attention the major difference between compassionate politics and conviction politics.
Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan have long been my heroes; they did so much for the working class people of this country that was in desperate straits after two world wars and the great class divide.
Attlee introduced the welfare state and the NHS, got rid of the horrendous workhouse ethos and made life bearable for countless millions, not just the privileged few, giving them the right to a decent life, equality, freedom from fear and last but not least aspirations. Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and spearheaded the establishment of the NHS, the most equitable universal health care system in the world. I was one of those able to benefit from this major change in society, I left home and took up further study and subsequently had a decent, fulfilling profession, unlike my parents who in their working class family could not even afford to attend the grammar school they should have gone to after passing their 11 plus, both leaving school at a very young age.
I am therefore lighting a candle for Atlee and Bevan and all they stood for and which tragically are ultimately being destroyed by Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.
- A candle in honour of Nelson Mandela who did so much for apartheid and whom Mrs. Thatcher called a ‘grubby terrorist.’
- A candle for the thousands of innocent people murdered by Pinochet and whom Margaret Thatcher called a champion of freedom, who was later charged with genocide.
- A candle for the thousands of families and communities who suffered and are still suffering due to the destruction of our 150 coal mines, resulting in the importing of very expensive coal from abroad. We had the safest and most organised mining industry in the world; miners had fought long and hard to get this through their unions. I am sure we can all remember the many stories of colliery disasters in the past. However it was still a challenging and gruelling job and like many I felt so desperately angered about what happened to these hardworking miners.
- A candle for the many unemployed as manufacturing industries were also closed during Margaret Thatcher’s time resulting in 3.6 million plus citizens ending up on the scrap heap, suffering depression and deprivation with crime and poverty doubling.
- A candle for the 96 Hillsborough victims whose deaths were not fully investigated during her time.
- A candle for all of those hardworking people who lost money when banks collapsed and all those suffering now due to the current austerity measures because of bank failures. Financial deregulation that Margaret Thatcher introduced, has turned city institutions into avaricious money pits with their strangle-hold on the lives of ordinary people.
- A candle to the dead and dying public services and the privatisation for profit that Margaret Thatcher introduced and not forgetting the ensuing corporate greed culture that now exists. These services should be there to benefit the citizens of this country who pay inordinate amounts of varying taxes for such services and should not be allowed to line the pockets of the greedy. Overseas companies are now running many of our services inefficiently and for maximum profit and in which many members of parliament have vested interests.
- A candle for the thousands who ‘inconveniently’ died after they were found fit to work by Atos, another private overseas company demonising the very sick, some of them my heart buddies. (See Calum’s list if you do not believe me)
- A candle to the present day draconian measures been undertaken by ‘Thatcherism’ that sees many working families struggling and relying on benefits due to the appalling lack of a living wage, rip off utility prices and astronomical rents. Margaret Thatcher opposed even a minimum wage.
- A candle to the many homeless and those facing that imminent possibility, due to the bedroom tax as there is a drastic shortage of housing. Margaret Thatcher gerrymandered local authorities by forcing through council house sales which may have been good for the council tenant that could afford them but she prevented councils from spending the money they got from selling the houses to build new ones, in fact spending on social housing dropped by 67%…
These are just a few of the policies that I cannot ever condone, there are many more.
Ultimately there is no doubt in my mind that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and I like many activists and campaigners are merely striving to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for the many not the few, with their great sense of entitlement. This is what we have fought for for so long and we cannot allow it to be stolen away, we must protect our rights and particularly those who are particularly vulnerable and fall on hard times through no fault of their own, it could happen to any one of us…No, do not celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death but consolidate and reflecting on where we are heading and remember the famous words of Bevan:
‘‘No longer will wealth be an advantage nor poverty a disadvantage.”
- Nelson Mandela: Centre of Memory
- Simplicity Blog: The NHS, Warts and All, is still Great 2008
- Aneurin Bevans’ Socialist Ideal or a Cosy Consensus, Think Left
- Aneurin Bevan, wikipedia
- Guardian: Margaret Thatcher wanted to crush the miners, that’s all she wanted.
- The Thatcher Years in Statistics
- Jobless Leap, “Fitting Tribute to Thatcher” Morning Star
- BBC Economy Tracker: Unemployment
- Red Pepper: Dispelling the Thatcher myths