Thursday, 11 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher's unBritish side

Many of us lived through many years of Margaret Thatcher. Few are expressing themselves about her at present, possibly out of respect.  However, a week after her death, the debate will have moved elsewhere, so I am going to ignore the taboo of only speaking "well" of the dead, partly because I do speak well of her.

I have good reason for complaint about her as a leader. I had terrible ME during her years in office. I could hardly afford shoes or food. I was treated with contempt by the NHS and benefits systems, which I help pay for. People might assume that I hate her, as she would seem to have been entirely irrelevant to my state of hardship. But, in fact, she was not.  Even though her tone was entirely unhelpful to me, making people seem less caring, the "buzz" in London and the south of England - that she created - helped me stay in low profile work and avoid homelessness. I had to take many insecure part-time jobs such as PA, which fell off the table of the rich, on doctor's orders until I could work full time and take those daily stresses. There were many of these jobs available then, in London, so I am, in a way, thankful to her.

I heard someone this week say "Margaret Thatcher is dead. Now I can rid my heart of the malice she created in it". Clearly, some people were far more influenced than I was by the atmosphere of her age.  I cannot say that she has affected my soul, in any way.  I encountered her, once, when she was Prime Minister and I was very impressed by her warmth, humility and kindness.  I met her husband Denis in their offices in 2001 and found him a really charming man.  There was no snobbery or "side" in him.  I found them both brimming over with spontaneous appreciation. 

I read yesterday that her sale of the council houses (local authority houses for those on lower incomes) was a tool to subdue the over-powerful Unions, on the basis that home owners with mortgages could not go on strike, for longer than two days. The policy left those without savings or reasonable jobs  as "losers",  without "a stake in the country" and without "doing something for your family" which were her election slogans.

Some benefited, financially, from her policies and some lost out. Those with some money in the bank, inherited or earned, legally or not, won. Those on a very low income, who could not afford to buy their house, lost. Those in the south won. Many in the north lost. Margaret Thatcher never directly compensated the losers on the basis of her philosophy that "people should find a way of standing on their own feet and not rely on the State".  Her policies rewarded people who had not necessarily done anything more to support themselves than those who did not benefit. The system was actually a  bit of a lottery.

Margaret Thatcher created roles for women hardly before imagined on which I may expand later. She had high standards and she worked hard. She was courageous and tough beyond the imagination of almost all men. Her loyalty to her beliefs and convictions, right and wrong, is almost unmatched. However, I do consider she lacked one key quality which the British still value highly, which is fairness, known as "fair play".

I think this was inherent in her make-up.  She had "favourites",  all men, like Queen Elizabeth 1st. She favoured men in her Cabinet.  She was finally brought down by the Poll Tax which was a proposed house tax which charged multi millionaires and dustmen the same annual fixed sum of money. I think this lack of "fair play" made her seem "unBritish".

Of course, Margaret Thatcher was immensely complex and clever. No doubt others could point to her "fairness" in many areas.  However, I think this is the reason why many still dislike her so much. This fault still makes many forget her sterling qualities, still.

Happy to discuss!

1 comment:

  1. A little known fact is that Mrs Thatcher introduced the Disability Living Allowance after she asked for a study into how much extra it costs to be disabled. The answer was "At least 50% more". DLA died the day that she did.