Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: Debating Her Legacy

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)
(image source: Wiki Commons)

Andrew Sullivan: She definitively ended a truly poisonous, envious, inert period in Britain’s history. She divided the country deeply – and still does. She divided her opponents even more deeply, which was how she kept winning elections. She made some serious mistakes – the poll tax, opposition to German unification, insisting that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist – but few doubt she altered her country permanently, re-establishing the core basics of a free society and a free economy that Britain had intellectually bequeathed to the world and yet somehow lost in its own class-ridden, envy-choked socialist detour to immiseration. Read rest of article here.

Jonathan Freedland: The wider Tory tribe seems determined to use the nine-day limbo between her passing and her funeral to define Thatcher in death in a way that would have seemed impossible, if not outright absurd, in life: as above and beyond politics, as a national rather than partisan figure, as an incontestable and uncontested part of our collective inheritance . . . This is how history gets rewritten, the winners presented as inevitable, those who opposed them deluded and doomed. It did not feel like that at the time. Back then, it felt as if Britain was divided fairly evenly. Read rest of article here.

Economist: Several prime ministers have occupied 10 Downing Street for as long as, or even longer than, Margaret Thatcher. Some have won as many elections—Tony Blair, for one. But Mrs Thatcher (later Lady Thatcher), Britain’s sole woman prime minister, remains the only occupant of Number 10 to have become an “-ism” in her lifetime. She left behind a brand of politics and a set of convictions which still resonate, from Warsaw to Santiago to Washington, DC. Read rest of article here.

Glenn Greenwald: This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure's death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power. "Respecting the grief" of Thatcher's family members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person's life and political acts. Read rest of article here.

Dominic Sandbrook: There was no love lost between the grocer’s daughter and the privileged men who once dominated the party. ‘I felt no sympathy for them,’ Mrs Thatcher said later of her well-heeled opponents. ‘They had fought me unscrupulously all the way.’ Many critics struggle to cope with the idea of Mrs Thatcher as the champion of opportunity, battling with the forces of privilege. They are so accustomed to treating her as the devil incarnate that they entirely miss her historic role as a warrior for working-class aspiration. Read rest of article here.

Owen Jones: There were more people languishing in long-term unemployment last year than there were in all forms of unemployment 40 years ago. In large part, this is a consequence of Thatcherism’s emptying communities of millions of secure, skilled industrial jobs. Large swathes of Britain – mining villages, steel towns and so on – were devastated, and never really recovered. Even when Britain was supposedly booming, the old industrial heartlands had high levels of what is rather clinically described as “economic inactivity”. Read rest of article here.

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