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15 April 2013 @ 03:17 pm
So, farewell then, Margaret Thatcher  
I recently went up to Edinburgh for a week and a bit, mainly for the Maker Faire. It was a good trip, nicely balanced between being social and being alone and productive, in the company of an extremely fluffy and affectionate but profoundly deranged cat. I didn't get to see a lot of people I would have liked, though, largely because I barely did any advance planning, and that was largely because of a family crisis that I will probably write about in a later (filtered) entry.

While I was up there, Margaret Thatcher died. Just a couple of weeks before, I had reached the stage where I was confident I could finish my puppet of her ghost - which I've been sporadically working on for about a year - in the space of a day or two. That would give me time to get it done and bring it to the street party in Trafalgar Square, long planned for the Saturday after her demise, and that was indeed how it worked out.
IMG_4179

I'm always uneasy, at best, about celebrating anybody's death, but I do think it's important to remember her as in many ways a monstrous figure, whose demented vision of political economy did more to undermine community feeling and cooperation in this country than anybody else has ever managed. She stood for inequality and greed; she took it for granted that it was only by elevating our basest instincts that humans could thrive. In this she was wrong, and the history of the last three decades shows clearly how wrong she was - yet we have been ruled by Thatcherites of one stripe or another ever since. She was venerated by Tony Blair; Gordon Brown was the first to publicly suggest a state funeral for her; and the Tories now in power are pushing her lunatic doctrines further than she ever dared. In the light of this, and the multi-million-pound robbery from the public purse that is funding her war-themed celebratory extravaganza of a funeral, I make no apology for celebrating her passing. With a huge, monstrous puppet of her visage.

We are entering the post-Thatcher age, at last. That is a cause for rejoicing - even if it is arguably in bad taste, and even if there is a hell of a lot of fighting to do before Thatcherism is laid to rest. Let us remember her as a woman who probably tried to do what she thought was best, who overcame great obstacles of class and gender to become the leader of a Conservative Party which to this day disdains those from her background and sex. Let us remember her as a Prime Minister who did more to transform Britain than anyone else in the last half-century. But above all let us remember the damage she did, the insanity of the ideas underlying the transformation she effected, and the importance of undoing her legacy. If those too young to remember her rule are going to be fed eulogies to her, we have a duty to balance those tributes out.
 
 
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Matthew Harris: pic#4793848glowing_fish on April 15th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
One thing that is kind of curious to me about the reaction to Margaret Thatcher's death is how much she is seen as a pivotal figure, who shaped a decade, even though:

What does the Prime Minister in Great Britain actually do? (This is mostly a rhetorical question). I think that as just one Member of Parliament amongst many, she can only hold power as long as her party lets her. And the party can only hold power as long as the voters agree. Constitutionally, isn't she even weaker than the US President (The US President, despite perceptions to the contrary, doesn't have all that many defined powers--- half of what the President does is through people's perception). Although of course the Prime Minister doesn't have to worry about an uncooperative legislature, like the President of US does.

But without getting into the details, why is Thatcher (or, for that matter, Ronald Reagan), such an emotional figure when they were really just figureheads of entire political parties? Without either one of them, the parties would have kept on doing what they were doing.
0olong: Jesus0olong on April 16th, 2013 09:38 am (UTC)
The British Prime Minister is the leader of their political party. It is possible they have less 'constitutional' power than even the President of the United States, but a charismatic leader wields tremendous power to shape the direction of their party, and they alone choose the makeup of their Cabinet. There is little doubt that she transformed the Conservative Party, in many ways, and by leading that ruling party she was a major force driving the profound changes they were able to effect in the country as a whole. Through force of rhetoric and diplomacy, it is probably fair to give her some credit for similar policies being pushed through around the world: privatisation and other ways of transferring power from democratic to capitalistic control.
Migrating: Нью-Йоркe0stre on April 16th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
Hi!
I live in Canada and there is not too much talk, excitement or celebration about her life or death, even though currently we are governed by Conservative party. Canadian people in general are very apolitical. But I’m wondering – with such a “monstrosity” of her policies and actions, how did she (or her party) manage to be re-elected more than three times in a row?
Best regards.
0olong: oolong0olong on April 16th, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
She was a massively divisive figure, operating in an electoral system that worked heavily in the Conservatives' favour at that time. The party never won an outright majority of votes; in 1979 they won 43.9%, in 1983 they managed 42.4%, and in 1987, 42.2%. The opposition was mainly split between Labour (36.9%, 27.6%, 30.8%) and Liberal/SDP (13.8%, 25.4%, 22.6%) - suggesting that at all times during her rule, a significant majority of the country favoured policies way to the left of those of the ruling party. Significant portions of the population were in favour of what she was doing, obviously (about 42%, I suppose) - largely rich white people living in the south of England, particularly outside of London, and those sub-sections of the working class that happened to benefit from her policies.

For what it's worth, I did see a segment on a Canadian news station about the party, though I forget which channel it was.
Migratinge0stre on April 16th, 2013 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
I don't watch TV for a long time now. Just radio on my way to work.
But anyhow - good luck to Britain :)
0olong: oolong0olong on April 18th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, it was CBC - here we are: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/14/uk-london-anti-thatcher-party.html?cmp=rss

Got any good tips for Canadian radio, by the way? :)
Migratinge0stre on April 19th, 2013 12:14 pm (UTC)
Ah! CBC - it's Canadian BBC :)
What kind of radio you are looking for?
I'm listening two:
Kinda "conservative" - http://www.newstalk1010.com/ - but pretty balanced
Classical http://www.classical963fm.com/ - totally neutral in terms of news.

Cheers
0olong: bunny0olong on April 19th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that! I have a pretty wide-ranging interest in talk-based radio (see https://twitter.com/OolongListens ) and a father who's originally from Canada - plus most of the best non-BBC podcasts I've found so far turn out to be Canadian. :)

So that's the context of my question. Anything you'd particularly recommend out of the many listed at http://www.newstalk1010.com/podcasts.aspx ?
LiveJournal: pingback_botlivejournal on April 16th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
So, farewell then, Margaret Thatcher
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Molly Bloom: pikpiktandem_bike on April 16th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
shameless, monstrous left shit.
nothing else to say.

i am so glad i live far away from this disgusting puppet-maker.
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC)
а мне кажется, что это вполне законный способ выражать своё несогласие с маргариткиными деяниями. Например, по случаю кончины Иосифа Виссарионовича многие плакали - а многие наоборот.
В частности, ответственность за войну с ирландцами лежит на ней. По радио сказали, кстати, что только когда Рейгану удалось её урезонить, прекратились все эти взрывы и стрельба. Вам мало этого безобразия? Мне не нужно.

А кто обзывается, тот сам так называется.
0olong: oolong0olong on April 18th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
Haha, thanks for that tandem_bike. I'm glad you live far away too.
Molly Bloom: pikpiktandem_bike on April 18th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
and always will.
0olong: Jesus0olong on April 18th, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
Good good. Why do you even have these strong opinions relating to Margaret Thatcher, then?
Molly Bloom: pikpiktandem_bike on April 18th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
i don't have ANY opinions re MT. i have opinions re human garbage that dance on her grave and burn her in effigy.
0olong: oolong0olong on April 18th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
Well I didn't burn her in effigy, nor did I dance on her grave.

*shrug*
Molly Bloom: pikpiktandem_bike on April 18th, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
fine. thank you for remaining a human.