Speak Ill of the Dead

Britannica rues Thatcher

I participate on a discussion board of writers and there are a sizable contingent of contributors from Great Britain.   The vast majority of them whom have weighed in have been absolutely SAVAGE in their disdain and contempt for Maggie Thatcher.

“Where’s the grave going to be? I’ve got my dance all worked out. ”

“I wish I lived in a bigger house, I’d totally invite you all to a party. I suppose we could take over the village pub. “

In response to an American poster horrified by the gleeful expressions to Thatcher’s death, there was this:  “Having witnessed the destruction of industries, communities and families because of her policies, I feel absolutely fine about saying how intensely I dislike her. I’ll say what I like, where I like, thanks.”

“Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!  And for everyone who is puzzled at the celebration of her death…. you didn’t live in Britain in the 1980s. Cos if you did, you would know. “

“Grew up in an industrial town during the Thatcher years. She left us nothing – no jobs, no money, no hope, no future. The town, once home to the largest steelworks in Europe, has never recovered.”

“So I’ll join the dance. She earned it. “

Maggie and Ronnie in a tree…

I would say “polarizing” is a good way to describe Thatcher’s passing from the scene.   Some people improve the world by being here and others by leaving it.  It is difficult, if not impossible for those of whose knowledge of Margaret Thatcher is second-hand to fully understand the feelings she engenders in those with first-hand familiarity with her time as prime minister.

Obviously those whom do not mourn her passing have strong reactions to her death and the intensity of their dislike for Thatcher is equal to those whom admired and celebrate her. The fact Thatcher’s death provokes such strong and passionate reactions can be confusing to those whose knowledge of her is second-hand.

Perhaps it is counter to the conventions of society and even good taste to take pleasure in and express contempt toward the death of another human being, but express insincere and false sentiments just to go along is playing false to yourself.

Thatcher’s passage is not the same thing as that of Roger Ebert or Annette Funicello and we shouldn’t act as if it is. There should be a certain latitude given to those who chose to bury Thatcher instead of praising her.

I have no feelings about Thatcher other than contempt for the way she was an accommodating apologist for the evils of South Africa apartheid.  On that score Thatcher wears the face of a villain as much as that of a hero.

The final word on Thatcher should belong to those who knew her as prime minister.   From her Facebook page, Annie Lennox recalls Thatcher and not all that fondly.

Annie is no fan of Maggie

Margaret Thatcher’s death has provoked an outpouring of polarised responses, clearly reflecting how people felt, and still feel about her, right up to the present day.

As a political leader, her style was strident (some would say strong), inflexible (some would say firm), authoritarian (some would say powerful ), tough (some would say resolute), arrogant ( some would say assured), snobbish (some would say she had a sense of values), and faintly ridiculous, ( some would say patriotic). She was the headmistress and we were the renegade schoolchildren. She was the leader and we were the ardent followers…all depending on which side you happened to be on. Despite the evidence of her gender, she could never be described as a Feminist. She was more of a singular woman in the old boys club than a defender of women’s rights.

Although she was the daughter of a humble grocer shop owner, her aspirations far outreached her roots..which is tremendous but… she failed to have any real understanding or connection with ordinary people, riding rough shod over their lives, leaving them to deal with the aftermath of a decimated industrial era. Entire communities disintegrated with generations being left to cope for decades down the line.

I admire dedication, strength of purpose and vision, these are all fine qualities but when political policies are so brutally hard line, that they affect people’s entire existence at a pen stroke (whilst being told to pull themselves up by their boot straps), you can be sure that the spirit of dictatorship has arisen. From my own perspective I keep recalling the heavy sense of oppression that saturated every aspect of the Seventies, and I can’t say I have any sense of fond nostalgia.

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5 thoughts on “Speak Ill of the Dead

  1. She’s dead. Gone. And her time, positive or negative, as PM is long gone as well. Move on & rebuild what you believe her to have razed. This is 2013 and Great Britain has much to be concerned over other than Ms. Thatcher,

    • That may be so, Jueseppi B., but I think people who know what Thatcher was like far better than I do have the right to recall her with fondness or contempt. Telling them to in effect, “get over it” is a disservice to their feelings.

      Thatcher was England’s Ronald Reagan and I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall The Reagan Years with any fondness either.

  2. It’s kind of the same as the reactions to Ronald Reagan’s death. You had some who mourned him and grieved openly. Then you had some who sang “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” and even had the nerve to offer anyone who would do them favor of pissing on his grave $100 to do so. It’s about perspective.

    (I’m not proud of offering folks $100 to piss on Reagan’s grave, by the way. But by the same token, he shouldn’t have been proud of how he handled the beginnings of the HIV/AIDS crisis…)

    • Yes, and for those reasons and more, Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher are someone’s heroes, but they were never mine and I cared as much about their deaths as they would about mine.

  3. I’m British, so let me help to shed some light on this. Margaret Thatcher divided British society like no other leader. You have obviously been hearing from one side of the division. Bear in mind though that she was Britain’s longest-serving prime minister in the 20th century, hugely popular with many people and her supporters idolised her. There are two sides to this story and for me the tragedy is that the two sides are having exactly the same argument 30 years on.

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