By Maelo Manning –
I may have been born almost 10 years after Lady Thatcher left office but I must say that I have come across her impact enough to realise that this is a person who was determined that her legacy would endure beyond her death.
My earliest memory of Thatcher is of watching news footage of the miner’s strike. I remember being horrified, at the age 4/5, at scenes of police pushing the miners; it suggested to me that the miners had done something wrong and I was baffled when I was told that they were protesting because they wanted to work.
When the Occupy movement set up camp in London I came into contact with Thatcherism again and discovered that it was her who introduced neo-liberalism into Britain. I was inspired enough to read the ‘Path to Power’ last summer and was struck by how ideologically driven Thatcher was. What I couldn’t understand was how a young person who had been through a world war and experienced a spirit of co-operation would have a strong view of individualism.
As a Liberal Democrat who believes in fairness, equality and community I find it even harder to understand Thatcher when she says in her book that, “business people have been left behind by the Liberal Party’s acceptance of collectivism.” What about non-business people?
I have this theory that only people who have studied social sciences should be allowed to become Prime Ministers. Science is factual and there is usually or close to an exact answer; Thatcher studied science.
Politics requires an understanding of people and their relationship to work and consumerism. I think that Thatcher believed so strongly in the free market that she forced every situation to fit into that box.
Take right–to-buy, for instance, property ownership is central to neo-liberalism but Thatcher didn’t think about the negative aspects of selling off council houses. If she had maybe we wouldn’t have children living below the breadline in B&Bs.
Nationalism seems to be a weapon that Thatcher used a lot to get people to believe in what she was doing but being British was all about having a strong free market. She is even credited with saving Britain from being the ‘sick man’ of Europe.
David Cameron has now said that Margaret Thatcher has saved our country. If New Labour was Thatcher in disguise and we now have a partly Tory Government then what did Thatcher save Britain from?
I think that Thatcher’s biggest mistake was to be so unbending in her political views. She divided the Nation and I think that it was undignified for her as Prime Minister to be so delighted by the amount of dissent around her.
Ding Dong Gate, ironically, makes me wonder how Thatcher would have survived in an age dominated by social networking. Social networking has made collective action more powerful.
For a person who didn’t believe in society how would Thatcher have coped with a virtual society that translates their views and anger into protest and movements like Occupy?