Blimey. Where do I start with Mrs Thatcher?
I guess the most important thing is to say that I was only three years old when she came to power in 1979. My earliest memory of her was the day she took the decision to go to the Falklands back in 82 when I was playing with my matchbox cars on the carpet next to the two bar heater back home.
I suppose I am one of ‘Thatcher’s Children’, and she was part of my childhood right up to the day she was ousted by Geoffrey Howe and his cronies when I was 14. Around me, there wasn’t much support for the ‘Iron Lady’ or her policies. As a lad without any political knowledge of policy or its implementation (and why should I at such a young age?) it was quite a shock for me when my path crossed with a working class man who supported Mrs T wholeheartedly. I was shovelling potatoes on my Saturday morning farm job and I think he was sent to ‘assist’ me as I was a little slow. He liked to talk politics, and I just stood there in my oversized boiler-suit, nodding a lot. He told me of the ‘ills’ of the last Labour government; he told me how the bodies went unburied, the uncollected rubbish mounted up and the unions held the country to ransom. ‘Mrs Thatcher broke the unions,’ he told me proudly. This opinion surprised me, for all my short life I had thought that only the rich voted tory.
I got my first vote in 1997 (aged 21, and not knowing shit from putty) and, being tired of the managerially boring Major administration, decided to jump on the Tony Blair bandwagon. The left seemed happy with this newly regenerated (New) Labour, like the bull charging at something red without knowing why, but all they got was something that had grabbed power by being a lot less like Labour and a bit more like Maggie. I hated the New Labour administration and its Orwellian obsession with spying on the electorate and going to war with the motorist (I was working as a haulier at the time). Then in 1997 came Brown’s cynical attempt to jump on the ‘green’ bandwagon and introduce a raft of ‘green taxes’ – all of which were sidelined when some bankers got careless and created an even deeper crisis. The banks were suddenly in a place that was very wet and very smelly; saving the world would have to wait – rich peoples’ money was at stake.
Rather than the continual spin, rhetoric and cynicism of Blair’s administration, I felt somewhat reassured under Mrs T. She knew how to make a decision and stick with it, even in the face of those who opposed, opposed and opposed while offering little in the way of viable alternatives. She was upfront (or as upfront as one can expect from a politician) – a quality that Blair and Cameron (and wasn’t there a bloke in between?) were/are devoid of. I brought my four children up in a predominantly working class area and most people I knew worked hard for their money. It was, however, aggravating at times when I was working 12-15 hour night shifts to pay down the mortgage, to drive past the houses where I knew the guys who chose never to work resided. They always claimed to be skint, yet they still seemed to have plenty to spray against the wall on a daily basis. Of course, there were those that felt I was unreasonable in feeling like this when it came to other peoples’ ‘lifestyle choices’, but generally I found my critics to be sitting in armchairs a safe distance away in leafy suburbia. As the interest rates edged up, and New Labour continued to tax hauliers out of existence, while deciding that foreign wagons could use our roads free and gratis on their cheap fuel, they welcomed in the ‘Working Time Directive’ to further curtail my earning power. Furthermore, to be fair, the Tories spent a while in opposition criticising New Labour’s method of collecting the stinkingly high fuel tax we endure in this country, yet in governance they have not seemed so enthusiastic to ease the burden.
In essence, I guess that what I’m trying to say in a rambling sort of a way is that Mrs T is probably the Prime Minister I dislike the least out of the six that have been elected in my lifetime. I was only three when Jim Callaghan left office and, unlike some people today, I’m not going to act as judge and jury with regards to a PM I don’t even remember.
I’m disappointed with human nature in general that there has been so much distasteful behaviour and disrespect over Mrs Thatcher’s death. I think it tells me more about the culprits than it does about her, and my reasons for thinking this are not rooted in any kind of partisan loyalty. I think her children, in particular, have a right to bury their mother without hindrance. As for ‘Ding Dong’, I don’t think she’d have given a tinker’s cuss, and if people don’t want to see the irony in parting with their cash to make a multinational record label a bit wealthier then so be it.