Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thatcher’s death “celebrated”

I was just reading on a news website about the death of Margaret Thatcher, at the age of 87. She was ever a woman to create divisions of opinion; but whichever side of the divide you happen to fall on, it can hardly be denied that she had an enormous impact on the last two decades of the twentieth century (and beyond). Her influence has extended well beyond Britain, with, even today, both sides of Australian politics continuing something of the Thatcherite legacy.

What caused my jaw to drop, when reading the article on the ABC (Australia) website, was the following:

the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has been welcomed by her critics, who say she damaged parts of the country;

and, further down the page, this:

About 200 Brixton residents celebrated the news of her death by drinking and dancing to hip-hop and reggae songs blaring from sound systems.

Now few people could find themselves more ideologically opposed to Margaret Thatcher than myself, but this sentiment is both sick and stupid. It would be different if she were a living dictator, whose death led to the liberation of an oppressed people. I might still think that such celebrations were misguided, but I could at least understand the sense of relief and joy, the desire to celebrate a new freedom (potential freedom, at least). But the woman hasn’t been in power for about 23 years! Get over it, people!

I don’t know enough about the specifics of Thatcher’s time of rule to be able to comment intelligently on any of her specific measures. However, I have no doubt that, as much as people prefer to see things in black and white (this spares them the need to think too much), her legacy includes both good and bad elements. It’s far too simple (and simplistic) to thoroughly demonise her.

No matter what harm Thatcher might have inflicted on some people by some of her policies, her death does not deserve to be celebrated in this way. There is no excuse for it. She was still a human being; she still has family and friends who no doubt cared for her deeply. This kind of celebration says much more about the sickness in the hearts of those who celebrate than it does about Margaret Thatcher.


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  1. You didn't live here and you don't know.

    For that you should be thankful.

  2. Sections of British society are trying to deify her, using her remembrance as a way of whitewashing the damage that neoliberalism did and continues to do. That's what appears to have happened with Reagan. We will probably get schools and hospitals named after her, ironically. Even more ironically, she will have a publicly-funded funeral to the tune of 8 million pounds.

    I agree with your general point, but the politicisation of one person's passing began with the PR-friendly media campaign to elevate her.