From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
A nasty piece of work
Monday 08 April 2013
David Cameron’s announcement that Margaret Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral should surprise no-one.
Thatcher’s political career was dedicated to the same class interests of big business and society’s wealthy elite championed by Cameron and his conservative coalition.
She never faltered in her determination to ride roughshod over working people, their organisations and the public services on which they depended to make the rich richer still.
Her easy recourse to tears when her idiot playboy son lost himself in the Sahara during a car race or when she was knifed by her Tory Party MPs in the wake of the poll tax debacle was at odds with her failure to shed a drop for her millions of victims.
Thatcher was exultant when Argentinian conscripts were needlessly sent to a watery grave aboard the Belgrano, as she was when Irish republicans abandoned hunger strikes in the grisly realisation that there was no limit to her willingness to see countless more die.
But it was her attitude to Britain’s organised working class, describing its members as the “enemy within,” that marked her out as a nasty piece of work, even compared with other Tory prime ministers.
Her single-minded readiness to mobilise all the resources of the state, egged on by the Tory lynch-mob media, contrasted with the inability of labour movement leaders to understand what they were facing.
Thatcher’s government was able to confront train drivers, print workers, seafarers and miners in their turn and to defeat them.
While TUC leaders vowed to remain law-abiding, the police, justifiably dubbed “Thatcher’s bootboys,” were given free rein to run riot on picket lines, infringe people’s free movement and other rights to smash the trade union movement.
On Mandela’s release, his courtesy visit to Thatcher, complete with photographs of a broad-beaming Mandela alongside his sour-faced host, summed up what fellow “communist terrorist” and later Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs called the “soft vengeance of a freedom fighter.”
That soft vengeance is not yet available to Thatcher’s victims in Britain because there has been no political turning of the tide.
New Labour refused to repeal the Tories’ vicious anti-union laws or to return privatised assets to public ownership.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown adopted her government policies wholesale, paving the way, as Ken Livingstone says, to today’s housing, banking and benefits crises. Their first promise at the 1997 election, which remained unbroken, was to leave taxation of the rich at the pampered level bequeathed by Thatcher’s ministers.
Blair used to phone her for advice and calls her a “towering political figure,” while Brown invited her to Chequers and Downing Street during his brief and unmemorable stint there.
Her stature appears majestic only in comparison with the easily bullied Lilliputians in her Cabinets and the new Labour mountebanks who followed in her footsteps.
Thatcher’s famous dictum that there is no such thing as society is contradicted by her funeral arrangements, which will be covered by the public purse rather than her family’s extensive wealth.
Just as her admirers remain committed to emulating her divisive policies, working people should be equally determined to reverse her and new Labour’s neoliberal agenda and chart a more progressive course.
South Africans give mixed response to Margaret Thatcher death. Condolences but also criticism of British former PM who once dismissed ANC as ‘a typical terrorist organisation’: here.
Margaret Thatcher: the artists loved to hate her: here.
Crowd ‘celebrates’ Thatcher death: here.
British human rights activist Peter Thatchell reacted:
In 1988, the Thatcher government legislated Britain’s first new anti-gay law in 100 years: Section 28. At the 1987 Conservative party conference she mocked people who defended the right to be gay, insinuating that there was no such right.
“During her rule, arrests and convictions for consenting same-sex behaviour rocketed, as did queer bashing violence and murder. Gay men were widely demonised and scapegoated for the AIDS pandemic and Thatcher did nothing to challenge this vilification.
- Margaret Thatcher: feminist icon? (newstatesman.com)
- Margaret Thatcher Dead; Never Got To Meet Her Idol, Sarah Palin (wonkette.com)