So Margaret Thatcher has expired….
….And true to form, even in the infirmities of her final years and death, she remains a hugely divisive figure. In fact some of the threads I’ve read today on Facebook and Twitter have caused people of the same political stripe to turn on one another, such is the strength of feeling. Calls to be less celebratory in the wake of her death have been met with anger….and thus I can’t help thinking that it’s what ultimately she would have wanted. It would appear that she wouldn’t have baulked at starting an argument in an empty room.
The thing with Margaret is that she was a born fighter, and her gender had nothing to bloody do with it. I’ve actually got the BBC obituary programme on in the background, and she was described as a “proper little madam” (being prepared to argue your point will get you vilified if you’ve got ovaries as we all know) from being a child and described by Carol Thatcher as “motivated”, working far harder than everyone else and with “tunnel vision”. Her certainty in what she perceived to be the truth of her beliefs, and a drive to succeed was the sledgehammer that she battered through the glass ceiling, to the top of the Conservative Party and ultimately through the fabric of British society, despite a personality that could, and the irony has not escaped me, turn milk into mature Stilton at a distance of half a mile.
As someone who lives in the heart of the South East Northumberland coalfield, Thatcher was the driving force behind entrenching the North East in the political left and despite the rhetoric, it’s not just the unions who are responsible for this. Her single minded desire to bring the unions to their knees cannot be underestimated. While we remember her, the wholesale long term unemployment, the closure of viable pits, the heart ripped out of a vibrant community that we’ve not recovered from, it’s reasonable to say that because of her, there is a very serious and unbreachable loss of trust in the Conservative Party which has not been tempered or diminished by 30 years of time passing. It’s grim when you see your friends ripping strips off each other, over whether we should or shouldn’t be sparing her family from the rage that she still engenders.
We remember her as “The Iron Lady”, all strength, bloody mindedness and tunnel vision but we need to also remember that you don’t become an MP by the age of 34 (might need a fact check here) if you aren’t a consummate politician. I don’t know if you read this quote too, but there’s something very chilling about the time when she was asked about what she felt was her greatest achievement. Her response? “Tony Blair”. In my minds eye, I see that line being delivered with a distinctly Machievellian glint.
So forgive us all that while, yes it’s sad for her family and I’ve no desire to add to the vitriol that has sprung forth today, you might for a moment consider that there are many who cannot bring themselves to mourn her passing.