Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 May 2015

What Maggie Thatcher haters really say ... about themselves

People attend a Thatcher's dead 'party' organised via Facebook, in Trafalgar Square
People attend a Thatcher's dead 'party' organised via Facebook, in Trafalgar Square
People attend a Thatcher's dead 'party' organised via Facebook, in Trafalgar Square
A giant puppet, representing Baroness Margaret Thatcher, during a Thatcher's dead 'party' organised via Facebook, in Trafalgar Square
Police lead a man away from Trafalgar Square during a Thatcher's dead 'party'
A protester wears a mask depicting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a party to mark her death in central London's Trafalgar square, Saturday, April 13, 2013
Margaret Thatcher
Flowers laid outside the home of Baroness Thatcher in Belgravia, London following her death this morning after a stroke
Margaret Thatcher fielding questions with Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe (background), at a press conference, in London
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, wearing his Saturn hat, greets former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 27, 2009
File photo dated 11/05/83 of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher receiving Soviet writer Aleksander Solzhenitsyn at No 10 Downing Street, London
File photo dated 24/10/2000 of former Conservative Prime Ministers Sir Edward Heath and Baroness Thatcher check their watches as they listen to the debate at the Conservative Party Conference annual conference in Bournemouth. Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said
FILE - APRIL 8: Lord Bell, spokesperson for Baroness Margaret Thatcher, announced in a statement that the former British Prime Minister died peacefully following a stroke aged 87. November 1976: Conservative party leader Margaret Thatcher makes a 'victory' sign outside her home in Chelsea, London. (Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
FILE - APRIL 8: Lord Bell, spokesperson for Baroness Margaret Thatcher, announced in a statement that the former British Prime Minister died peacefully following a stroke aged 87. British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, London, at the start of her third term in office. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
FILE - APRIL 8: Lord Bell, spokesperson for Baroness Margaret Thatcher, announced in a statement that the former British Prime Minister died peacefully following a stroke aged 87. Margaret Hilda Thatcher, nee Roberts, as the Conservative candidate for Dartford, Kent, and before she married husband Denis. (Photo by Chris Ware/Getty Images)
1980: (FILE PHOTO) Baroness Margaret Thatcher, 85, Britain's Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, Reports on April 8, 2013 state that Baroness Thatcher has died following a stroke.. British Conservative politician and first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher speaks at the Tory Party Conference on in Brighton, East Sussex circa 1980. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
1985: (FILE PHOTO) Baroness Margaret Thatcher, 85, Britain's Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, Reports on April 8, 2013 state that Baroness Thatcher has died following a stroke.. Please refer to the following profile on Getty Images Archival for further imagery. http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?EventId=108930459&EditorialProduct=Archival British prime minister Margaret Thatcher holds a chimpanzee in 1985. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
File photo dated 08/11/05 of Margaret Thatcher at the memorial service for former Conservative Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, at Westminster Abbey in central London. Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said
The death of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher has divided opinion across Northern Ireland
Prime Minister David Cameron pays respects to Margaret Thatcher
Crowds gather in Derry's Bogside to 'celebrate' the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Crowds gather in Derry's Bogside to 'celebrate' the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Crowds gather in Derry's Bogside to 'celebrate' the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher
Crowds gather in Derry's Bogside to 'celebrate' the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
People celebrate the death of Baroness Thatcher in Brixton
People celebrate the death of Baroness Thatcher in Brixton, south London
Meryl Streep has paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher
Geri Halliwell has tweeted about Margaret Thatcher's death
Morrissey has attacked Baroness Thatcher after the former prime minister died
Members of the armed services will line the route of Baroness Thatcher's funeral procession to St Paul's Cathedral
A man lays a bunch of flowers outside the home of Lady Margaret Thatcher in Belgravia, London following her death
Margaret Thatcher pictured with her husband Denis in 1999
Margaret Thatcher waves to well-wishers after her 1983 election win
Margaret Thatcher arrives at 10 Downing Street after winning the 1979 election
The Union Flag is lowered to half mast at the Houses of Parliament after the death of Baroness Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher has died following a stroke
Margaret Thatcher at the Tory Party Conference in Brighton in 1980
Baroness Thatcher's death left some Twitter users with the impression that the singer Cher had died
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died following a stroke
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Mrs Thatcher talks to Siobhan O'Hars (left) and Katherine O'Hare during her visit to Rathmore Grammar School, Finaghy. 19/6/1978 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Director of the Belfast Tool and Gauge Company, Mr David Woods (left) discusses the workings of engineering components with Margaret Thatcher and department foreman Mr Robert McCullough at the factory. 6/3/1981 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE

The emotional nationwide outburst occasioned by the sad death of former PM Margaret Thatcher – how odd that sentiment seems – is a mirror-image of the outpouring on Princess Diana's demise.

Both responses inappropriate, misguided and embarrassing, but both also character-changing, if a nation truly does have character. After Diana, gone was the stiff-upper-lipped, moderate, private, stoic image of the British people.

After Margaret, gone decency, respect, balance, restraint.

That's been coming for a while, though, post-Iraq, post-Leveson, post-Savile. But the free-for-all intoxication of pure hatred was unexpected. Even those who profited from the Thatcher years through free university education and having a house passed on to them, by daddy and mummy when they died, joined the frenzy without irony or reflection.

Of course, the Left will have their field day. They always do. They were quick to point out at the time the number of Jews in Thatcher's governments, so joining up the twin Stalinist hates of the British Left. Though some have resurrected Clement Attlee as a compare-and-contrast with Thatcher, the Left managed to engineer his downfall, much as they did to Wilson, Callaghan, Blair and Brown. The violent disappointment of lefties is always with us.

Everyone has their opinions on the late Margaret Thatcher and seem compelled to express them at every opportunity.

But the chattering classes in Northern Ireland avoid referencing her hunger strike record like the plague.

Oh yes, there is much teeth-grinding about the Miners' Strike, the destruction of communities, the murder of the NHS, unemployment figures, the rape and pillage of the honest, decent trades unions that left the dead unburied and the lights out through the 1970s, much nostalgic yearning for rented housing, year-long waiting lists for telephones and 25% inflation ...

... but an impressively stealthy side-stepping of the big issue which rends the liberal elite in Ulster into two very familiar and equally distasteful blocks of mutual loathing.

Republican and nationalist Thatcher-haters focus almost entirely on her mythical act of 'letting the hunger strikers die'. Even when they offer class solidarity with the Honest Decent Miners of Yorkshire, it doesn't include the Honest Decent Miners' Sons who happened to have served in the Army and were being killed here willy-nilly, with no thought for the integrity of the plucky communities they sprang from. Imagine the Hovis ad with a bomb going off under the young lad with the tank top and bicycle.

But those soldiers too were, in a strange mythical way, 'victims' of 'Thatcher' and her Cromwellian genocide in Ireland.

Meanwhile, the middle-class arts 'n' crafty set here generate some of the most childish diatribes against 'Thatcher', all charming gendered insults – the 'bitch', the 'witch', the 'cow', the 'grocer's daughter' – while lauding some Cooksonesque rustic past. But the same people who get moist-eyed over the loss of heavy industry and the closure of uneconomic pits then, shower abuse now on nuclear power, employment-generating conglomerates, on people who leave the lights on (nothing changed there then), fill their kettles over the element and insist on owning cars. Most recently, they oppose fracking because it will ruin their view of the countryside where their holiday cottages are and bring the world to an end by earthquake.

But the chitter-chatter over the blue cheese in subsidised Ulster has no view at all of the bitch's handling of the hunger strikes.

Unlike her image in GB, we now know for a fact that Thatcher was not quite the loathsome murderess of republican lore. We know for a fact the extent to which she was personally prepared to concede terms to the hunger strikers.

Just as we know for a fact the vast extent of the treatying that was going on between Sinn Fein and her governments throughout the vicious 1980s. We also know how she was viewed by Ulster Unionism in that period.

What her haters don't do, of course, is join a trade union, join the Labour Party or vote for it, give up their cosy owner-occupier homes, or seek to place their dreadful priggish overweight kids in under-achieving far-off schools.

The point about 'respecting the dead' is not because of the impact such practice would have on the deceased's memory.

Whether it is a paramilitary killer's funeral, a paedophile's or a drunk driver's, the reason one avoids disrespecting the dead is because of the impact such behaviour would have upon one's own self-respect and how one's character might be regarded by others, privately, quietly.

Just one more subtlety that has bitten the dust over the last week.

May it rest in peace with all the others in this purblind country.

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