So the time has come, I never knew it would actually happen, but one of my favourite songs “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” has finally made it into the top ten. There is something about a midget on helium, which for me, is simply the foundation of a timeless pop record.
Are we allowed to say “midget”, I’m not sure if that’s taboo – It was such an 80s thing to refer to those who were challenged by height.
Speaking of the 80s, Margaret Thatcher died this week at the tender of age of 87. She had a stroke after a decade of serious illness and died around 11.30 in the morning at the Ritz hotel in London where she had been living for the past few months. Apparently, at the Ritz, she would be able to receive the additional care and support she required.
It’s been a really challenging and divisive week for me, which is in parallel to the general feeling across the UK. Many people have come out in support of Thatcher as a person, but not Thatcherism as a ideology; Apart from those who benefited financially from the reforms of the 80s. Glenda Jackson was correct in Parliament yesterday when she said that what we regard as vices, under Thatcherism are seen as virtues, “greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker, sharp elbows, sharp knees. They were the way forward”. This is why the Conservatives were dubbed “The Nasty Party”.
For me, the Thatcher legacy was one that favoured the rich; or those who wanted to become rich. It was a time where circumstances were ignored and share price was a religion. I remember when BT was privatised, and our home phone was blocked to “incoming calls only”, as a house with a single mother working part time and 4 brothers with an age gap spanning 13 years, we were not the sort of people that Thatcher would want in “her club”. Even though my mum insisted on working, we took in French exchange students we still relied on additional benefits though to ensure that we had a basic standard of living. These were the days when work didn’t pay, in fact the truth of the matter was that without family credit, and housing benefit support we would have been out on the streets – but my mother wanted to work, a proud woman, she wanted to provide We didn’t have much, and any extra we had was welcome and for the most of it, my childhood was great. However, it is important to note, that with the policies of the Thatcher years and the new “Poll Tax”, you were better off NOT working. In those days, mums Housing Benefit was reassessed every 6 months, and for this assessment we needed 3 months of payslips, which meant that for 6 months of the year my mum could not take on any overtime, because reduction is benefit would actually amount to MORE that the increase in net pay. This is the welfare state that was created by Thatcher and continued by John Major. IDS is responding to this “welfare culture” by cutting welfare. However, In the 80s and 90s what was needed was an increase in minimum wage, workers rights and job security. However this support was not one that Thatcher would give. In fact is wasn’t until Blair in 1997 that the rights of works were really brought into consideration. Those pesky unions – Say what you want about Arthur Scargill, but the truth is that there are more “working men”, or “plebs” as some put it, as there are managers. Something to think about.
Those experiences of me as a child living in Bedford were not important to me at the time, all I cared about was my sega megadrive and completing Sonic the hedgehog 2 in record time.
As I got older though, One of her policies whilst she run the country with “little consensus” was that of Section 28. Referred to at the time by some as “Clause 28”, there are many gay people living in their 30s/40s/50s now who still cannot stomach watching Michael Portillo, or Michael Howard or any of those cronies, who are attempting to make a television career whilst they stood up in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and declared that homosexuality was a choice, that gay men are predatory, which ultimately led to many gay people being branded paedophiles. The fight for the repeal of section 28 lasted years and was painful for many, and for me the debate brought out the worst in people. Even though David Cameron has apologised, and quite rightly too, I would rather it had come from Michael Howard, or Thatcher herself. But she never apologises.
When it comes to the closing of the coal mines I don’t have any personal experience apart from watching Billy Elliot; However, I was reading some comments on Digital Spy recently and I feel I would like to share one – Credit to Ryan Wood –
My village, once the largest coal-mining village in Europe, has been utterly destroyed as a community by what she did. It continues to decay and is plagued by enormous unemployment, drug problems and hoplessness. Social clubs, once the many hearts of the community, have all but closed down. I see the hopelessness of the youth every day – I’m a secondary school teacher. It’s easy for people who do not live in such areas to accuse the young of being lazy and not wanting to work. It is far from the case – there simply are no longer any jobs for them to go to. The vast majority of people here are desperate to work – it is simply not there to find.
By destroying the industries, this woman not only removed Britain’s ability to be self-sufficient (which is why we now pay a fortune for energy from France and Germany) but she also removed the ability for anyone to find employment. I’ve read several ignorant people say things such as “well why didn’t labour re-open the mines?” It’s pretty obvious – many mines went up to four miles out to sea, meaning that they were left to flood once the mines were closed and the pumps that kept the sea out subsequently turned off. A flooded mine is impossible to re-open. How could it be made stable when its supports have been left to rust? It would be physically and financially impossible.
Margaret Thatcher embodied everything that the rich want – to get richer and make the poor poorer. This woman was NOT a great woman. She obliterated the industries, and with them, Britain’s self-sufficiency and communities. She was a woman who went for tea with Pinochet yet labelled Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’. She was a woman who believed that being gay was a choice and that all gay people were ‘predators’, a repulsive view which translates as ‘all gay people are paedophiles’.
My entire family were miners, and every single one of them was made redundant when all they wanted to do was work and work hard. When they tried to fight to keep their jobs, they were greeted by grinning police who waved £20 notes at them and thanked them for the overtime payments they’d be getting. Margaret Thatcher caused the suicides of many whose lives were destroyed by her ‘policies’. She showed zero respect and even less compassion to others. Why then should she be shown any, simply because she’s dead? Why should she be shown any simply because she has a family? She didn’t care about the families she crushed even further into poverty. When someone divides people so much and is so reviled by so many, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that she did something (or, more realistically) many, many things very, very wrong.
So this is just one tribute to Margaret Thatcher I would like to give. I don’t think it’s right to speak ill of the dead, I do think that may of the evils in the world are done with the best intentions; and this is her problem – whilst she saved the country from economic ruin, by selling off everything apart from the NHS. The Austerity we feel now is because we have nothing left to sell! We don’t manufacture anything, we rely on offshore and energy bought from abroad. So we will feel Thatcher for many years.
Some though bought and sold their council houses for a nice profit, whilst the miner were starving, living off nothing and people were loosing their jobs left right and centre, she did make it comfortable for those who did do well professionally, If you were lucky to be in a safe secure marriage, from a decent background – a “white collar” then you’re probably going to think a lot of Thatcher, because she loved you. You, with your brick of a mobile phone and sports car that made your cock look smaller; you were what she wanted and you bought it.. whilst the other half starved.
Best intentions, as I said.
Anyway, which takes me back to Judy Garland – and this Friend of Dorothy will be buying the single this week, not as a protest, not because of Thatcher, because I find helium singing midgets really really really funny.