Margaret Thatcher and me are alike. We both, at times, have found it hard to show compassion.
Thatcher lacked compassion when she ended subsidies to British industries, effectively allowing them to die, and replaced them with nothing, leading to mass unemployment.
And I’m struggling to have compassion now that she’s dead.
Thatcher didn’t care if she was liked, a rarity in politics. I admire her for that. And she came to power when national newspapers were claiming a woman would be too emotional to lead the nation, and would start crying at the hint of crisis. I admire her for that, too.
In everything else, I’m sorely lacking compassion.
She’d understand my hardheartedness. She lacked compassion for an imprisoned Nelson Mandela, describing the ANC as “a typical terrorist organisation”. She lacked compassion for the 1,200 men who drowned on the retreating Belgrano.
But, she did have compassion for former dictator Augusto Pinochet, describing as a “tragedy” his house arrest, and vehemently fighting his extradition for the murder of an estimated 3,197 political opponents, and the torture of 29,000 more.
If Thatcher could be so moved by the plight of a monster, why can’t I feel any sadness for the death of a less vile and revolting human being?
Her policies led to the death of entire communities. Places where there are still no jobs and where ideas such as unity and family have been replaced with high crime rates and drug use. Take away people’s jobs, cut their benefits and blame them for their poverty.
But, of course, as Thatcher said, there is no such thing as society. We’re all individuals, out for individual gain. If you have a problem, it’s your problem, don’t look at me.
One in seven children lived in poverty before she was elected. Within a few years, it was one in 3.
She was the anti-Robin Hood, stealing from the poor to make the rich richer. And how loved she is by the rich and greedy!
She introduced the poll tax, where everyone from Company manager to cleaner paid exactly the same. Imagine, how wonderful it must have been to pay an absolute tiny amount of tax! To be able to afford another holiday in the south of France, while those lazy feckless unemployed/teachers/nurses/disabled/poor struggled to get by. What a wonderful time to be rich and able to look the other way!
Do I have the compassion to defend her? Inflation needed to be brought down. Yes, unions were out of control. Yet Germany has shown that such problems can be rectified without destroying lives. Perhaps she genuinely believed the markets would sort out the mess. They didn’t.
So how do I feel now that she’s dead? I feel defeated. Part of me wants to sing “Ding dong the witch is dead!” but that would be showing the same utter lack of compassion that Thatcher showed through her life.
So I won’t be celebrating. An old person who caused a great deal of unhappiness in her life, has passed away. None of us are perfect. If Britain was just the south east of England, your achievements would be incredible. It’s just a shame you cared so little for Wales, Scotland or the north. Your passing will bring tears to some, but far less than you brought about while in power.
Goodbye Thatcher. RIP.
“History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything.”
~Jeffrey D. Sachs~