Thursday, 11 April 2013

# 54 (2013) The Thatcher Years

Every politician has his or her supporters and haters. The news of Baroness Thatcher’s death on Monday provoked responses at every end of the emotional scale. Whilst many mourn her passing and have reflected on the good work she has done during her time in power, it was probably at least equalled by the number of revellers partying in the streets in celebration at her demise. 

Troops in the Falklands (source)
I chose to avoid the news in the days immediately following her death. I grew up under Thatcher rule. I won’t lament her passing. 
But not many politicians can say they have instilled such strong feelings in the country as our only female Prime Minister. Perhaps that is why we haven’t had one since? Those that truly prospered during the 1980s were fewer by comparison and no doubt some of them are now feeling the pinch in austere times.
Many more will be glad she is gone because of the profound effect she had on the lives of the working classes. In many ways we are still paying the price for some of her decisions and those of her cabinet. Those of us who lived through the 1980s will remember the poll tax, privatisation, power cuts, the miners strikes, how she crushed the unions and the irreparable damage that has been done to our manufacturing industry. It is a legacy that has never been rebalanced. And whilst the Falklands War may be seen to be in her favour, some questioned her methods.
Miners strikes (source)
 The country suffered both recession and boom during Thatcher rule. But long term we are paying the price for many of her decisions. Home grown industry is still at an all-time low and we are very reliant on imports. This is a precarious position to be forced into given everyone’s current economic state and has seen the demise of many of our UK brands. Unemployment is still high and housing is an ever growing problem thanks to right to buy and the selling off of council housing which has in turn had a detrimental effect on housing prices and housing availability. We may blame this on the Labour Government but it stems back further. Every ruling party is trying to undo the damage of its predecessor.
Even in death Margaret Thatcher is still a controversial figure. The taxpayer, whether it likes it or not, will be settling at least part of her £10million funeral bill. Apparently, we can afford it. It is the last bitter taste of a divisive rule.

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