As a girl from the North, I don’t think we’ll ever forget the damage done by Thatcher. I remember the jubilation when she resigned as Prime Minister; I was thirteen and my friend Daniel came running in shouting, “Thatcher’s resigned! Thatcher’s resigned!” It’s difficult to explain to Italian friends how divisive and destructive her policies were and remain.
Why do we hate Thatcher in the North?
When I hear people talking about the current recession, I’m reminded that some towns and cities in the UK have never fully recovered from the damage she inflicted on them in the 1980s. The loss of our manufacturing industries, the massive unemployment, the poverty, the rise of inequality and the places just allowed to rot. Communities destroyed to break the unions, deregulate industry and promote the growth of the banking and service sector. What an excellent move that was to rely so heavily on the banks and financial services she deregulated! Unlike Italy and Germany, Britain doesn’t make anything any more. Her choice.
David Cameron said today she saved our country, “Taking on the unions, privatising industry, letting people buy their council homes.” Every part of his statement is wrong. I can’t think of any of those points where the opposite is not true and did not do massive damage to the collective good.
It is not a case of thinking ill of the dead, it is a case of not allowing history to be rewritten. Yes her influence will be felt for a long time. Today’s Guardian editorial sums it up: Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free.And then, her successors in the current government complain and seem surprised when people act in a crude, in-it-for-themselves sort of way. Unless they are rich of course. Then it’s ok. Lest we forget.