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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Thatcher: A Rotten Legacy?

Lady T

Never speak bad of the dead, thanks to the use of euphemisms, the word  divisive has saved the day.

For those who knew Margaret Thatcher, she was Prime Minister in Britain, the only female so far, for 11 and a half years, winning three elections in row 1979 - 1990). She died on April 8, 2013 at the Ritz Hotel in London, where she had lived since the beginning of the year. She was 87.

Many people would remember Thatcher at home for her economic policies. Her belief in the free market saw the privatization of state owned firms, people got up the housing ladder with the sale of council houses. Home ownership rose by 70 odd percent. The biggest effect of all was the deregulation of the financial sector. This gave rise to London being a major financial hub in Europe and the world.

But the issues of the toll tax brought her down. Her party and cabinet ousted her. At the end of her reign Britain got richer, but to make Britain rich many people suffered harsh losses, unemployment rose to 3 million. She also became a superstar partly because she was blessed with inept enemies like Michael Foot, Arthur Scargill and General Galtieri.

But why was she hated so much? In Scotland, the blogger has been told that whenever she appeared on TV, their parents told them to put it off. This was epitomized by responses she got after her sermon on the mound. After her speech, she was told, that there have never been an amount of people gathered praying for her at the same time (hope you get what they meant). Not to mention the impromptu street parties and the (private)jubilation at the news of her death. Twitter, a micro blogging site, was inundated with jokes of how she shut down and privatized some furnaces in hell.

Her policies saw the privatization of many state run companies like British Telecoms, British Gas,and British Airways as well as the de-industrialization of the Britain. What this meant was that manufacturing, which was heavily subsidized by the state was rolled back. People lost jobs, unemployment rose to above 3 million and manufacturing in Britain was never the same. Mines and steel plants were shut down; destroying the livelihood of millions of families.

There were no bail outs, competition was the key word. The areas hit the most were Scotland and Northern England. The blog supports her privatization policies but cannot say to what extent it should have gone. The heavy handedness used to suppress the riots that followed the miners' strike were that used in police states she fought to a standstill abroad.

Her handling Northern Ireland was pretty shaky; considering how she managed the hunger strikes. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), who tried to assassinate Mrs Thatcher,  had made her look at Northern Ireland from a security and military lens. She however helped to set up the road map for the Good Friday agreements.

Thatcher denounced Nelson Mandela and his ANC as "terrorists", something even David Cameron ultimately admitted was wrong. When Nelson Mandela went to London for the first time after he was freed from prison; he initially refused to meet with Margaret Thatcher. She also had some brutal tyrants as friends such as Augusto Pinochet, Indonesian dictator General Suharto, Ibrahim Babaginda of Nigeria and even Saddam Hussein at one pointThe handling of the Falklands, which handed her a landslide re-election victory was contentious especially the blowing up the Belgrano.

One thing is certain she loved power. What she did with it, is not ours to judge. Her admirers say she was kind and caring, others were a little more blunt. They say she could be rude, menacing  domineering. She engaged in combative and often destructive debates.

This blog however thinks its still too early to ascertain what exactly some of her legacies would be, even though her free market idea seems to be falling apart. Much of what she pulled down needed to be but her methods seemed to be the problem. Loved and loathed in very equal measure, she will definitely be remembered by all.