RIP Maggie, the high horse is crowded today

Ethnic liveries? No thank you

Being a social media whore, I found out about Thatcher’s death in a slightly unconventional manner: basically a lot of people were tweeting that they were off for a twitter break because they found all the comments and jokes about Thatcher’s death distasteful and that she was someone’s Mum and someone’s daughter. I have to admit, I read perhaps ten comments from people being offended to each comment that was actually offensive. Perhaps if we spent less time getting offended on other peoples behalf and more time pro-actively seeking to right societies wrongs, the world would be a better place.

In fact, as Rob Manuel put on Twitter:

My condolences to Thatcher’s relatives, Mark the arms dealer and Carol who seems quite jolly but there was that gollywog incident.

To be fair, Rob also said:

We’ll all remember where we were the day Thatcher died: sitting on Twitter trying to make nasty comments just amusing enough to get a RT.

And to my mind this sums it up rather nicely. Whilst I agree with RichTWarms when he says,

  …Of course you can analyse someone’s record later, but on the day of someone’s death it is just nasty.

I do think there is a form of basic honesty in holding the opinion of Thatcher that you had before her death in the aftermath of it but perhaps how vigorously you expound it will depend on either how much she personally affected you and your ideology or how much of a troll you are. It’s certainly a lot more honest than getting het up and morally outraged on behalf of her family; they’ll be all too aware of the variety of public opinion and I doubt they’ll give two figs over it. I don’t think there is a figure in post war politics who has polarised opinion as much as Maggie did. There is an interesting piece on the Guardian Comment is Free section about this very subject:

There’s something distinctively creepy – in a Roman sort of way – about this mandated ritual that our political leaders must be heralded and consecrated as saints upon death. This is accomplished by this baseless moral precept that it is gauche or worse to balance the gushing praise for them upon death with valid criticisms. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn’t change simply because they die.

Whilst I lived through the 80’s, I was rather young to form an opinion on the policies Thatcher enacted  at the time. Subsequently though I did meet a retired Northern railway worker (a good friends’ father) who bitterly opposed her policies and my Dad, who spent 40 years working in local government and opposed what she did to local government tooth and nail. He wasn’t particularly enamoured with interest rates hitting 17% in the early 80’s or VAT almost doubling from 8% to 15% either.

Then there are the questions surrounding her support for some rather unsavoury dictators like Saddam Hussein, Pinochet and Suharto, who’s occupation of East Timor saw at least 100,000 people die. And that’s before you get into the concepts of flawed privatisation, the treatment of trade unions, the miners, the Hillsborough victims and the North of England particularly that no doubt will be swept under the carpet for the next week or so.

But for me, there are two incidents that will forever remind me of Thatcher. Firstly the time she covered the tailfins for BA’s ethnic liveried plane models with a hankie because the Union Jack had been replaced and secondly, this rather splendid quote I’ve paraphrased somewhat: “Call me LADY Thatcher. Baroness is a German title.”