Never has the passing of one person divided so many people on the political spectrum than that of Margaret Thatcher aka The Iron Lady. At the time of posting this the announcement of her death resulting from a stroke was only an hour old. Yet the forums, comments section and and social media were buzzing with an assortment of chatter including calls for respect, tributes to her accomplishments, and of course the inevitable bleating over the passing of a frail old woman. I am not one to judge people's reactions whether I find them tasteless, objectionable (and that's just the kind words) or inappropriate but I will say this; as someone who takes the notion of death very seriously I have learnt not to take any joy in anyone's passing, no matter how repugnant they were in life. I won't go into the philosophical reasons suffice to say that any such joy is fleeting and feels like a waste of energy. So I just acknowledge the passing and say very little either way. As a woman who had a lasting impact on this country, so many people have much to say and I intend to throw in my two pennies worth.
After that rather pensive opening paragraph you might be surprised to learn that I was not a big fan of the former Prime Minister. Even as a teenager growing up in 80's Britain I witnessed the negative effects of her actions, some of it first hand. When I was old enough to, I protested the government's introduction of the student loans, even battled with a local Conservative MP on the subject. Then there was the Poll Tax demonstrations which escalated into riots and of course her less than favourable attitude on South Africa's oppressive Apartheid regime. So no I was not a fan and remain so as I witness today the legacy of her devastating short shortsightedness which saw this country's nationalised utilities sold to private companies who continue to profit massively whilst many struggle (and even die in the process) to meet the basic costs of simple things such as heat. The dismantling of our coal and steel industries in order to de-stabalise the trade unions was a devastating act that was clearly done out of spite rather than in the best interests of the nation. Oh I could get tantric on this subject but I won't.
There is however one major accomplishment that is either brushed over or generally overlooked and looking at it objectively, is an undeniable one that deserves re-examination. In a stint for Live At The Apollo, American comedian Reginald D Hunter talked about Thatcher from the perspective of someone who never really knew much about her or had to endure living under her rule. After much research he describes her as an idealist, with all the wrong ideas but at least she believed in them, and was not some jobbing politician who would say anything or compromise her ideals to make her more popular. What a rarity that is especially today. After all, this is a PM who remarked sternly, "this lady is not for turning." Hunter also observed, with some amusement, that most women would rather look up to Madonna as a female role model than Thatcher (and perhaps I can understand why to a large extent). Yet we should remember that Margaret Thatcher, a woman of her time who said that she felt no woman would ever be Prime Minister let alone party leader, rose to the top of what was (and still remains) a male dominated world and she did it without compromising her integrity or her ideals. Many might disagree, but I find that incredibly admirable.
Image Credit; LCBGlenn