I notice on Facebook that almost all enlightened liberals, when they refer to Margaret Thatcher, even 16 months after her death, still preface their remarks with ‘couldn’t stand Thatcher…’. The next word is usually ‘but’…
This is the lead-in to some compliment along the lines of ‘she wouldn’t have tolerated this Islamic extremism on our shores’. The writer in question then endorses some of her world view (and so tacitly concedes that she might have had a point about a few things) while making it clear that they still loathe the ‘witch’.
I’d have thought that such vitriol would have stopped by now.
When you tackle the Thatcher-haters they can’t articulate exactly what policies they despised. Of course they may mention her economic views but then look nonplussed when you point out that most Western politicians worldwide – and not just those in conservative parties – agree with the general thrust. Yet Thatcher-hatred endures. Even Meryl Streep, the star who impersonated her on-screen, just had to qualify her performance by giving an interview in which she said that she didn’t agree with the Iron Lady. Probably she knew she risked being ostracised in Hollywood if she didn’t.
We seem to respond to public figures and politicians on a kind of subliminal level. Quite often we don’t bother to listen to what they say. In the 1970s I remember a time when many people would simply say: ‘We don’t like Heath’. Now the same is said of Miliband – he just doesn’t look like a prime minister. The same was said about Kinnock. Yet no politician triggers the hatred Thatcher does. I find it rather unsettling. She’s DEAD, for God’s sake, as are all the controversial figures in British politics: Tony Benn, Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell. Today’s politicians don’t say much that is inflammatory at all, as if fearful of the wrath of the voters. Do you really feel better for it?
Thatcher-baiting is a strange phenomenon. Despite the odd Crow and Scargill – old-fashioned trade unionists who bitterly resented the attacks on their powerful vested interests – it’s still at its most prominent among the liberal intelligentsia – educated, affluent, artistic, urban dwellers. Perhaps they resented her because she had no interest in the arts and demonstrated little sense of humour. There is a deeper explanation. Many middle class leftists must have had mothers like Margaret Thatcher. She was of the, ‘eat your greens’, ‘that’s all very well dear, but have you washed your face’, ‘hands off the table’ brigade. As Bertie Wooster might have observed, ‘such people leave deep scars on the soul.’
It’s also a strange aspect of British life that even in death many Socialist politicians can’t find anything good to say about erstwhile political opponents. The haters continue to flog corpses. Compare this to America where Ted Kennedy’s death triggered kind words from George W Bush and Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Thatcher herself attended Eric Heffer’s funeral. And, more recently, think of the warm tributes paid to Tony Benn by Gerald Howarth and Bill Cash. Perhaps those of a conservative disposition tend to be more gracious. The left, for all its talk of the international brotherhood of man, fails to walk the talk.
Well, you wouldn’t catch me celebrating a violent attack on a far-left