The newfound love among Tories for the Iron Lady does not square with the manner in which they ousted her back in 1990
For anyone wanting a crash course in rewriting history, this is the best time to be in Britain. The death of Margaret Thatcher has handed revisionists of all hues a chance to airbrush the bits of the Thatcher era that don’t fit their selective memories of it.
Confronted with contrasting versions of what her 11/ year rule did to Britain — critics highlighting only the worst of her policies while admirers focusing solely on her “achievements” — an outsider is likely to be confused. Who to believe? To go with the protesters’ morbid “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead”; or the Tories’ fawning, “I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher”? Must she be seen only through an extreme prism?
“Born above a corner shop, died at The Ritz. She must have done something good,” mused one confused reader of The Times.
As in life so in death, Thatcher continues to divide the country in a way that perhaps no other modern day leader has. Such is the depth of still-lingering anger against her policies that in many places, including London, street parties have been held to “celebrate” her death. In a particularly ghoulish show of partisanship, the Socialist Workers Party’s mouthpiece, Socialist Worker, carried a front-page headline “Rejoice!” over a gravestone marked “Margaret Hilda Thatcher”.
For many Britons, Thatcherism still means only one thing: communities after communities of working class people destroyed as a result of her policies. Hatred for her is most palpable in Scotland where the hated poll-tax was first introduced, and former industrial towns of northern England which saw the brunt of rampant deindustrialisation and mine closure,
“The wounds never closed; the scars are very deep,” said John Cummings, a former miner and Labour MP whose mining town of Easington in north-east England never quite recovered.
“It has been clear for years that her death would prove highly controversial in coal-mining districts…she did it (closed down mines) with the bluntness of an axe and the finesse of a scalpel,” he added.
Critics bitterly point to her support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, her backing for the homophobic local government act (later repealed by Tony Blair’s government) which left gay people stigmatised, and her alleged racism. Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr claimed how in a private conversation she made “unabashedly racist remarks about Asian immigrants” — warning that Australia could end up like the Pacific Island nation of Fiji “where the Indian migrants have taken over.”
Tub-thumping Tories, of course, insist that she was the architect of modern Britain who “saved” the country from unions. and put “Great” back into Great Britain.
In the words of David Cameron, “cometh the hour, cometh the man… in 1979 came the hour, and came The Lady”.
The question being asked is that if the Tories loved her so much, why did they get rid of her in what has been dubbed the worst political parricide in the history of post-war Britain?
“The manner of her going hasn’t been touched on. I find that bemusing,” said Glenda Jackson, actor and Labour MP infuriated by what she saw as Tory attempts to airbrush history.
Labour Party’s advice to its members was to be “respectful” in their tributes to Thatcher, but Ms Jackson defied the party line and let rip at Thatcher’s “heinous” social and economic policies while Tory MPs jeered.
“I had to speak out to stop history being rewritten,” she told The Independent.
Controversy erupted within hours of Thatcher’s death when, ignoring precedent and protocol, Mr. Cameron insisted on recalling Parliament from recess to pay tribute to her.
The Speaker of the House of Commons was reported to have been “taken aback” as normally Parliament is recalled from holiday only to discuss matters of national emergency. More controversial was the decision to give her a public-funded “ceremonial funeral” with military honours at an estimated cost of between £8 to £10 million.
The funeral of Sir Winston Churchill required £2,000 to cover the expenses of fire, police and civil defence services (the equivalent of almost £33,000 in 2012),” The Guardian recalled.
It also claimed that Buckingham Palace raised concerns whether “it would be right to associate the military with such a divisive figure.”
With some 2,000 guests from around the world expected to attend the funeral and the Queen leading the tributes, it has been dubbed “an all but state funeral.” Protesters have threatened to disrupt the funeral on Wednesday arguing that a woman who wanted to privatise everything doesn’t “deserve” a public-funded send-off.
Thatcher apparently loved a good argument. What would she have made of this one?