Why I'm not having the Thatcher party I'd always planned...

It’s been a funny sort of day. And I feel like crying. But I don’t know what for. Like so many I’d vowed to mark the passing of Mrs. Thatcher with a party, and sworn to urinate on her grave should an opportunity arise. But I don’t feel like doing that now. An old woman died. That’s what they do, old women. They die. It’s not a happy occasion, and neither is it a sad occasion. It’s what’s supposed to happen. Otherwise the world would be littered with skinbags full of splintered calcium, crying out in pain through eternity. The death of the elderly is not a tragedy.

And as has been written eloquently by others, unless you’re a guest at her funeral then you shouldn’t feel the need to be respectful either. That’s true of anyone, I’d say. If you hated her you hated her. Why not say it. She can’t hear you. And she didn’t care what you thought when she was alive. It’s also important to make sure history records the people’s true feelings about her as a politician. It might even be undemocratic to stay silent at times like these. Be heard.

What I feel about Thatcher as a politician is how I feel about any adult who harms others. That might be what’s making tears gather just behind my face, deciding what they want to do with themselves. The person that has died today was my abuser. Good riddance. But not just mine. The people who suffered under her ideology and actions were the victims of a national abuse. A sustained campaign of relentless cruelty because the way we wanted to live was not the way she wanted us to live. Our lives didn’t suit her purpose. And so she crushed us.

Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government crushed workers in every conceivable vital industry. They crushed the poor, the sick, the elderly and the unemployed. They crushed immigrants and the children of immigrants. They crushed gay people. They crushed asylum seekers. They crushed protestors. They crushed us all. All of us.

And again the tears regroup and think about the quickest exit.

When I was seven or eight years old, my mum took me to the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Westminster. And I watched her fight through sobs as she spoke to a lump of bronze on a plinth. “We did it,” she said. “But this probably wasn’t what you had in mind.”

In later years I’ve argued that Thatcher’s victory in politics is what women’s suffrage was for, whether she’d like that conclusion or not. It can be chalked up as a win, regardless of the consequences. Equal rights means the right to be an arsehole too.

But what my mother felt was betrayed. Abandoned. Helpless. Crushed.

We were really poor. My dad made the foolish mistake of getting a job in the public sector. He worked for the DHSS. I think perhaps the policy was to keep the pay low so they could sympathise with claimants. I didn’t want for anything but that’s because I didn’t ask for anything they couldn’t afford.

We lived first in a bungalow my parents rented from the church (where they were also caretakers to bring in a little extra). When I was about 12, the bungalow was condemned. It had dry rot, damp, mould, six inches of water under the floorboards and rats in the wall cavities. And the occasional slug (I once put my school shirt on, only to find one was attached and was being squashed against my back.)

After forcing the church to evict us so that we were technically homeless, we got rehoused on a nearby council estate. It felt like luxury by comparison (something I hear from so many who were rescued by the miracle of social housing). My mum got a job and things should’ve been easier. But my dad admitted we were massively in debt and had been for years, so there still wasn’t much to go round.

I’m not going to tell the story of my life. It’s just that… growing up like that. Growing up poor under Thatcher, I know my place. To have been poor during the period Thatcher was in office was to be the lowest of the low. My family were not part of her vision for Britain. The fact that any spare time my mum and dad had was spent in voluntary work – in youth clubs, and disability groups, in adult literacy and local coffee mornings… all those tiny little things that make society work. They meant nothing to her. She didn’t believe in society. I can’t forgive her for that.

As a child I knew I would die and how I would die. It would be in a nuclear war, because Thatcher allowed American missiles to be deployed on our soil. No child should grow up thinking they’re going to die.

And as a teenage pacifist I watched her wage a war she was warned about before it even began. And I watched how acting too late and causing the deaths of 907 people won her an election. And as a student I stood with so many others in Trafalgar Square, protesting the Poll Tax (one of her lesser offences, but one that affected so many). I watched the police break up a peaceful protest with violence (I’d never believed the reports from the miners that this happened. I couldn’t believe such a thing). I watched them charge into the people quietly listening to the speeches, causing them to flee down every road – only to be forced back by horses and batons. I watched a protest deliberately turned into chaos and knew it was done at her command. The next day she condemned the lawlessness and ignored the democracy of so many people demanding fair treatment.

I don’t feel like crying anymore. These crimes seem almost quaint by comparison to what we’re facing now. I’ve said it many times before, but at least Maggie believed in the evil she did. Thatcher genuinely believed her policies would improve the country. She was wrong. But by god she had conviction. What we have now isn’t Thatcherism. It isn’t even Conservatism. We have an unelected government, populated by a self-interested ruling class. They believe in nothing but their own profit.

I’m far more frightened of the harm David Cameron will do to people than I ever was of Margaret Thatcher. And I already feel crushed.

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