Dave Douglass, An Almost Final Word On Thatcher’s Funeral

When next someone ask you about what it was like to live under Thatcher and what she did, please refer them to Dave Douglass.

His dignified and measured interview on Channel 4 is one man’s summation of Thatcherism, which speaks to us all.

The Absurdity Of The Margaret Thatcher Memorial Library

There is some discussion in the media of a Margaret Thatcher Memorial library, as a way of preserving her memory. It is common for retired presidents of the United States to create a library where their monumental decisions, which could have affected a world, are recorded.

They are mostly vanity projects, but may as with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s or JFK’s libraries be of wider significance and they do fall under the supervision of the NARA.

Whilst the American tax system encourages philanthropic gestures from the excessively wealthy to help create and maintain such libraries, that is not true in Britain. booksmess1

That is part of the reason why I can not see it coming off, at least in the short term. There is a significant reluctance amongst the obscenely rich in Britain to put their hand in their own pockets for the benefit of others.

We are going to witness this next week, as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be paid for, mostly, by the State, which is extraordinary.

Not for nearly 50 years taxpayers have had to pay for an ex-Prime Minister’s burial and then only for the exceptional Winston Churchill, when he died in 1965. Even the matchless Clement Attlee, creator of the NHS along with Nye Bevan, had private funerals, which their families paid for.

It is more probable that any Thatcher Memorial library be sponsored or maintain, in part, by Her Majesty’s Government, directly or indirectly. Those who made a packet out of Thatcher’s misrule, bankers, speculators and spivs would only begrudgingly part with money if they can share in some of the reflected glory.

Even if it gets built, with private money and no state sponsorship, then how would it continue running? Who would bear the costs?

Certainly, Thatcher’s estate rumoured to be worth in excess of £60 million could afford it, but her mean spirited offspring are unlikely to give up any significant funds. And if it could be built, money found to keep it going, what would it contain?

Some tawdry copies of the Daily Mail? Or perhaps the knife, which the Tories plunged into Thatcher’s back in 1991, causing her resignation, would be made a prime exhibit?

All in all, it is a terrible idea, based on questionable assumptions, for a political philosophy more accustomed to closinglibraries than opening them.

Update 1: Apparently, the political comedian behind the Thatcher Memorial library is Donal Blaney. He’s a questionable individual, only too willing to make excuses for the fascist dictator, Augusto Pinochet. This link to Tory HQ shows the political pathology at the heart of British conservative thinking, the relativising of Pinochet’s atrocious regime.

Update 2: The Beeb seems to approve of this idea, or at least that is the tone of this news piece.

A Few Thoughts on Thatcher’s demise

Had you asked me five or ten years ago what I thought of Margaret Thatcher then I would have let forth a stream of invective and only subsided as my blood pressure reached a critical point.

But now on reflection I am not sure I could do the same. That is not to say I do not loathe every facet of Thatcher’s governments, but I feel we should avoid overly simplifying our reactions to her demise.

I think it is necessary to separate out the person from the politics and the wider consequences.

Consequences

Looking at the latter first. It is hard to describe to contemporary generations what Britain was like some 40 years ago. Not only in terms of lack of technology, variation or the comparatively insular nature of society back then. Whole books have been written on the political, economic and social legacy of Thatcherism, instead I would sum those changes up in two words, privatisation and profit.

When you look at fragmented British society with its extremes of wealth and poverty that is a legacy of Thatcherism. Where other European countries have public utilities running public services Britain has a range of private monopolies, which yearly attack people’s pockets. Other countries have joined up transport and infrastructure, Britain has Thatcher’s legacy.

Nevertheless, she cannot take all of the blame, numerous politicians, some even found in public life today (Michael Portillo is but one example) were key advocates of Thatcher’s myopic policies back then.

The politics

Thatcherism has had a profound political influence in Britain, all major political parties eventually succumb to its ideas, one way or the other. The notion that the market could fix everything, or nearly everything, has been adopted by both Conservative and Labour Party. Tony Blair, was obviously from the outset an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, brought those maligned policies into the Labour Party. This can be seen by the fool hardly and dangerous changes to the NHS over the past 16 years.

But the adoption of manic pro-market politics cannot be blamed solely on Thatcher. While she was a vehicle and obvious face of those wretched ideas, others chose to pick up the policies and articulate them, with the resultant mess that we see in Britain today: scarcely any manufacturing, poor public services, poorer infrastructure and a seriously divided society

The person

Margaret Thatcher was a singularly clever individual, who crawled her way to the top of the Conservative Party. When they had no use for her she was stabbed in the back and thrown aside.

If newspaper reports are to be believed, she suffered numerous ailments, the loss of a husband and serious dementia which is punishment enough for one person

But the other individuals, who articulated or benefited from her policies, have greater culpability.

Thatcher alone was not to blame for Britain’s adoption of vicious pro-market attitudes. Thatcher alone was not to blame for profiteering. Thatcher cannot be blamed, solely, for a financial sector, which is a law unto itself. She, alone, cannot be blamed for the lifelong misery, unemployment and destitution which resulted from her and subsequent governments’ policies.

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Many, many others are to blame, as well.

She died as a sad, confused individual. A failure.

More is the pity that the pro-market nonsense she articulated can not be buried at the same time.
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