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April 08, 2013

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Karen M

Margaret Thatcher is dead. It'll be interesting to see how our compassionate lefties behave.

David

I suppose now’s as good a time as any to post a link to this, which includes the excellent documentary series, Tory! Tory! Tory! [ Post updated. ]

rjmadden

It'll be interesting to see how our compassionate lefties behave.

Something tells me a memo will have gone round all BBC staff after their past twitter gaffes.

Henry

"Margaret Thatcher is dead. It'll be interesting to see how our compassionate lefties behave"

The Graun have what looks like a more considered piece by Michael White (possibly because he didn't trust any of the others to do it), but Twitter rather annoyingly gives priority to this, which exercises the usual Guardian technique: if your ethics don't allow you to do something (in this case speaking ill of the dead) then just change your ethics.

Though to be fair the commenters of CiF were crowing over her death before it happened

Andrew Zalotocky

The kind of people who like to dance on graves also tend to be the kind that would enjoy filling them, given half the chance.

JeremiadBullfrog

The philosopher Mary Warnock deplored Thatcher’s “neat, well-groomed clothes and hair, packaged together in a way that’s not exactly vulgar, just low.”

*ahem* "The philosopher".

Beyond that, all they ever do is obsess, obsess, obsess about how people LOOK. I'll bet she'd even agree her hair was racist.

Andrew

Nadia Cho still makes me laugh. I wonder if she's seeking attention from her Daddy, or just jumping up and down squealing "SEX! SEX! Look everyone, I have discovered SEX!"

Col. Milquetoast

this brings up one shortcoming of hashtags :
#nowthatchersdead = now that cher's dead

It seems some people devote a lot of energy goes towards fiery hatred. I've encountered hatred for Thatcher before and it doesn't seem to have dimmed over the decades.

Spiny Norman

Andrew Sullivan (yes, really): Thatcher, the Liberator.

David

Spiny Norman,

Andrew Sullivan (yes, really): Thatcher, the Liberator.

I’m actually a little shocked that he acknowledges just how degrading and spiteful the left of the Seventies was. (Though he shies from noting what that implies about leftist psychology now.) Left-of-centre commentators tend to forget, or choose to forget, just how dismal, failed and all-pervasive the statist mentality was, and why that made Thatcher necessary. Despite the power cuts, unburied dead and ossified monopolies somehow billions in debt, they tend not to speculate as to exactly how wrecked and demoralised the country would have been in the care of devout socialist Neil Kinnock, or those even more devout, like the adolescent dogmatist Dennis Skinner, who openly spoke of “the class enemy.”

JuliaM

Andrew Zalatocky: "The kind of people who like to dance on graves also tend to be the kind that would enjoy filling them, given half the chance."

Oh, this!

Reed

"It'll be interesting to see how our compassionate lefties behave."

The Telegraph had to suspend all comments on related stories...

We have closed comments on every #Thatcher story today – even our address to email tributes is filled with abuse— Tony Gallagher (@gallaghereditor) April 8, 2013

https://twitter.com/gallaghereditor/status/321288984858869761

Anna

they were nauseated by her “odious suburban gentility.”… embodying “the worst of the lower-middle class.”

Good to know our leftist elite look down on people like my parents and grandparents. Class war, eh?

Beef Roast

I think it says a lot that she manages to wind up the idiots 23 years after she stopped being politically relevant. It says even more that with her passing, the only people really animated about it are a few hundred submoronic anarchists and other losers in crap parts of English Labour heartland and the Provinces. Ashheap of history, indeed.

Anyway, let them have their parties. They still have at least two years of misery under the Coalition to live through followed by Prime Minister Ed Miliband who will thoroughly disappoint them.

David

A few years ago, the Guardian published this comical exercise in luvvie self-flattery. According to Hanif Kureishi, Thatcher was “basically vulgar” and “actively hated culture” because “she recognised that it was a form of dissent.” Apparently, commercially unviable leftwing theatre, in which the public has little interest, defines our sophistication and radical credentials. And even the smallest reduction in coercive taxpayer subsidy is a form of “suppression.” It’s all quite laughable and I can’t help wondering if what really annoys such people is that Thatcher actually had little to say about our artistic nomenklatura, an omission that made them look irrelevant. And egos so colossal can’t abide that.


[ Added: ]

There are some interesting snippets here. Note the Sydney Morning Herald’s claim that the Winter of Discontent was caused by Thatcher, even though it happened before she came to power, under a Labour government, and was a significant factor in her subsequent popularity. Also note the illustration of union wrongheadedness, all too typical of its time.

Oh, and there’s a YouTube version of the Tory! Tory! Tory! documentary here.

svh

Note the Sydney Morning Herald’s claim that the Winter of Discontent was caused by Thatcher, even though it happened before she came to power

Thank God for professional journalism.

David

Thank God for professional journalism.

Having mastered time travel, it was inevitable she’d use her powers for evil.

rxc

There was an interesting use of words on the BBC this morning, reporting on the palns to "celebrate" the death of Margaret THatcher. One wonders whether they will be dancing in the streets, singing "Ding dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!"

For a movement that is dedicated to supporting "diversity", progressives really know how to do the "two minute hate" pretty well.

David

rxc,

Well, there are plenty of her policies with which one might have disagreed (the “poll tax,” Section 28, the social aftermath of the 1984 miner’s strike, etc). But as a child, hating Thatcher – and displaying that hatred - was what hip young people were expected to do, even if they weren’t sure why. (This was around 1981, when the pop group Heaven 17 described Ronald Reagan, a mainstream conservative, as a “fascist god.”) What’s interesting to me is the number of young people now who think of her as some inexplicable Demon Queen, even celebrating her death, while having no apparent knowledge of just how dire the state of the country was before she was elected. And who therefore have little grasp of what many of her policies were a necessary reaction to, and correction of.

As I’ve said before, some people seem to have forgotten just how despicable and delusional Arthur Scargill was, and how dangerous. This is a man who repeatedly advocated violence and coercion (even against his own union’s members), who approved of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, who fawned over Stalin, who aimed to position the unions, not the electorate, as the country’s preeminent political force, and who thought himself entitled to “abolish capitalism.” Having previously toppled the Heath government, Scargill didn’t hesitate to attempt a repeat performance. Toppling elected governments was apparently his prerogative. At the time of the 1984 miners’ strike, Scargill made his ambitions for Britain clear in the pages of the communist newspaper The Morning Star: “Capitalism is an obscene system that deserves to be overthrown.” And Scargill thought himself just the man for the job – a job that would entail “the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” and state control of the media. This, he said, would all be part of an “irreversible shift towards a socialist system.” Scargill was very fond of the word “irreversible” and used it frequently. As Claire Berlinski notes, “irreversible” being a far left euphemism for “no more elections.”

Sam

You're all overlooking the really important stuff.

Margaret Thatcher Helped Invent Soft-Serve Ice Cream.

rxc

From the Independent, about an hour ago -

"Lady Thatcher’s death could propel The Wizard Of Oz track "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to the top of the charts.

Those who saw her death as a cause for celebration have prompted a download surge for the track."

I can understand how people disagreed with her, but the visceral reaction is quite astounding. I can only think of the Italians' reaction to the death of Mussolini causing similar ourpourings of hatred. What would progressives say if libertarians had similar reactions to the death of, say, Barack Obama?

Jeff Guinn

Left-of-centre commentators tend to forget, or choose to forget, just how dismal, failed and all-pervasive the statist mentality was, and why that made Thatcher necessary.

I live in England for a few years in the early 1980s, arriving five months after she became PM, then came back again in the late 80s for a few more years.

The transformation she wrought was astonishing. How can anyone, even only scarcely sentient, have lived through the 1970s and not think England was lucky to have her?

David

rxc,

I can understand how people disagreed with her, but the visceral reaction is quite astounding.

As Claire Berlinksi’s book shows, much of our leftist cultural establishment went far beyond quarrelling with Thatcher’s policies. Their reactions were, as you say, visceral, personal, often unhinged. Quite a few seemed to despise her background and who she was. (See Jonathan Miller and Mary Warnock, quoted above.) Oxford University famously denied her an honourary doctorate, partly in belated protest at budget cuts, partly out of “progressive” spite. (Janet Vaughan, the principal of Somerville College, where Thatcher studied, was an imperious leftist and at least partly sympathetic to communism.) Maybe a big part of it is that Thatcher not only bloodied the left’s nose, she very publicly made the left look foolish and reactionary. Which, at the time, was a novel experience.

Henry

"the .. claim that the Winter of Discontent was caused by Thatcher, even though it happened before she came to power, under a Labour government, and was a significant factor in her subsequent popularity"

Reminds me of the myth that the (excellent) TV series "Boys from the Blackstuff" was written as a response to the Thatcher years. It even says so on the DVD cover.

The story was in fact largely written in 1978, during a Labour government. Transmission began October 1980, not long enough into her premiership to really be talking about "Thatcher's Britain"

Rafi

Heh.

http://order-order.com/2013/04/09/guardian-poll-finds-50-34-support-for-thatcher/

David

Cue the Daily Mash:

Thousands of people under 35 are rejoicing the demise of a woman they once read about.

lovegoats

Mice always cheer the death of the cat.

Reed

I see now that the 'street parties' in Brixton have turned into mass brawls. Violence seems to be the hard left's favourite form of celebration. I suppose it's a natural consequence of their propensity to engage in petty tribalism - when there are no 'fascists' in the vicinity, they fight each other.

Mags

People with no idea who Thatcher was 'ecstatic' that she's dead

You can't parody some people.

Beef Roast

[lauriepenny]It's not a mass brawl, you guys, it's a peaceful protest.[/lauriepenny]

David

People with no idea who Thatcher was ‘ecstatic’ that she’s dead

It does make me wonder what, say, these teenagers would cite as the reason for their celebration. Are they actually new recruits to the Swuppie micro-cult, in which case their grasp of history and grip on reality may be somewhat suspect? Or are they just joining in because, hey, it’s what all the cool kids were doing? (And if Socialist Worker types are now the cool kids, have we fallen through the looking glass?)

And it does make me wonder what, if anything, these young women know about the Seventies, which to them must seem like ancient history, another world. I’d guess they don’t know much about the air of low-level resignation, the “managed decline,” the double-digit inflation, the “incomes policies,” the three-day week, the vast swathes of people who from day to day had no idea whether the bins would be emptied, or whether the buses would be running, or whether the lights and heating would stay on. I’d guess they don’t know much about how Britain was seen overseas – described by Henry Kissinger as “a tragedy,” as “ungovernable,” and mocked as wretched and unreliable by even the Soviet trade minister. And I’d guess they don’t know much about the role played in that drama by socialist ideas.

Tom

The Thatcher "celebrations" remind me of a comment James Lileks made after September 11, 2001. He was watching the event unfold with his infant daughter and saw the footage from the Arab world of people celebrating in the streets. His comment was, "Note to self: do not teach daughter to exult when people die."

David

Tom,

It’s quite strange to see people jumping about who can’t explain why they’re celebrating, other than a belief that the woman was in some way a shorthand for All The Evil That Roams The Earth™. One young man, maybe 20 or so, claimed that Thatcher had “killed off the whole mining industry.” Which sounds like history bent arse upwards by the Guardian. Or by our beloved BBC. UK coal use had been in steep decline since around 1912 or so, except during the wars. By 1984, alternative fuels, automation and basic economics had done the rest. Aided by a delusional communist named Arthur Scargill.

Perhaps the man who blamed Thatcher for “killing off” mining believes that all unviable and obsolete industries should be subsidised indefinitely by the taxpayer, on whatever scale is deemed necessary by the beneficiaries, and that more efficient and affordable alternatives should be shunned. Perhaps he thinks that would be fair. Perhaps he thinks we should rip out our central heating and huddle around coal fires. Something tells me the earnest young man may not have given much thought to the greater number of pits closed by Harold Wilson, a Labour prime minister, or to the fact that no subsequent Labour government saw fit to reopen them.

[ Added: ]

I suspect our disgruntled 20-year-old doesn’t know the particulars of Mr Scargill’s various threats and demands, including the demand for an £800 million capital investment in a terminal industry. Or his demands that no pit should be closed as long as it had any coal in it at all – however small the amount and however impractical and ruinous it was to extract. Scargill’s intransigence and unrealism had been condemned within the trade union movement, along with his opposition to allowing ballots among members. Of the nine or so coal fields involved in Scargill’s Great Battle, only one voted to strike (and if memory serves by just one or two percent). But then our balding revolutionary was never big on democracy, whether in his own industry, his own union, or in the world at large. And it’s worth noting that at the time of Scargill’s “class war” miners were among the highest-paid industrial workers in the country.

As Oliver Kamm pointed out in 2009,

It was a strike about politics, not economics. The central demand of the strike - that no pit be closed for any reason other than exhaustion - made no economic sense, and no democratic government would have been able to accept it... The miners’ demands were a sectional claim that their own interests should take precedence over the public good. That claim made sense only in the context of the ideology of the miners’ leadership: insurrectionary politics geared at bringing down an elected government... The strike was not merely a protest against industrial closure. It was an attempt to supplant the authority of an elected government.

Even the term “miners’ strike” is misleading. There was no national ballot. Many miners didn’t strike and didn’t want to strike even when the fight was at its ugliest, and large numbers of those who did were intimidated and coerced. So-called ‘scabs’ were routinely assaulted and harassed by Scargill’s associates, with one taxi driver being killed in the crossfire when a concrete block was thrown from a road bridge, presumably to kill his passenger, a non-striking miner. Yet these details seem to have escaped many of the cheering people who get their history from the Guardian, or worse, their lecturers, and who think that smashing random shop windows is the way to look righteous.

Rob

You had to have been there to realise how wretched and shit the late 70s and early 80s were. These 'youngsters' celebrating her death have a nervous breakdown if their mobile phones don't work for an hour - Christ knows what would happen to them with the lights and hearing going off at politically determined (by the Left) intervals.

Still, thanks to their own idiocy their government has ensured that they will get their own power cuts in a year or two from now. I will be interested to see their reaction.

Rob

A remember reading about Jonathan Miller getting mugged in Hampstead; I remember it made my day.

Dr Cromarty

Oh, this you must see. A living parody if ever there was one:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/9984646/Woman-behind-street-parties-to-celebrate-death-of-Margaret-Thatcher-named.html

Blythe is a drama teacher with a workshop company that visits secondary schools. She specialises in “facilitating workshops for young, excluded and potentially criminalised individuals and uses drama techniques she has developed to explore resolution of conflict and oppression,” according to the company's website.

The group readers: "Come and celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny! On the day Maggie stands down, once and for all!"

On Facebook she appears in photographs holding a hammer and sickle flag and posing alongside former Cabinet Minister Tony Benn and left-wing writer Owen Jones.

David

Re: our flag-waving communist, Ms Blythe:

“Come and celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny!”

It’s hard to know where to start, really.

Rob

She is living proof that we have barely started cutting public spending.

rjmadden

“Come and celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny!”

A sobering reminder that mad people walk the streets.

Anna

A sobering reminder that mad people walk the streets.

And teach our kids.

David

Further to Ms Blythe and her cheering comrades, Norm Geras offers a more thoughtful take.

T.K. Tortch

I'm from the States & went to Edinburgh University for a while in the late '80s while Reagan and Thatcher were heads of state.

I had a very good time. Thanks!!

Some things amazed me. Quail Crisps for instance.

Also, the incoherent hatred of Reagan. Bonkers. Unreal. And I hated Reagan. I was a Democrat; a confirmed Liberal. In the U.K. I found myself defending him.

Where did these nice people get these absurd notions about the U.S.? Hmmm.

Anyway, I explained patiently, he's not a fascist. Sorry, he just isn't. He's an aesthetically annoying plastic geezer and not very Punk Rock, but he's not a fascist. Knock it off already. Sheesh. You guys recently fought off a bunch of actual Fascists. Can't you tell the difference?

But then, the Thatcher hatred was - very far past the Bonkers and Unreal Reagan hatred. Oh my stars.

I did not presume to comment on U.K. politics because it wasn't my business and I didn't really know the ins and outs. But, the Thatcher hatred went straight past "We have reasonable disagreements with this woman" to "Blood. Her head. Give us it. Screech!!".

Instinctively I disfavor screeching policy, so this caused me to favor her somewhat. I kept it to myself. Easy for me; the last thing I wanted to do in a foreign country was talk to the locals about their politics.*

*Unfortunately, being from the U.S., Hegemon, some kinds of people could not resist grilling me over U.S. politics and policies. They were pretty often the screeching kind.

carbon based lifeform

And I’d guess they don’t know much about the role played in that drama by socialist ideas.

Our education system at work.

Horace Dunn

Thanks T.K. Tortch for your take on this, and thanks David for drawing attention to Norm's characteristically sensible view of affairs.

This is also rather good and worth reading:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/grace-dent-thatchers-children-we-may-be-but-these-death-parties-are-just-childish-8567288.html?fb_action_ids=10151370271963683&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210151370271963683%22%3A186623114818613%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151370271963683%22%3A%22news.reads%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

David

Horace,

I did like this bit:

I cannot muster the righteousness and moral certitude of, say, those noble types climbing the front of the Brixton Ritzy cinema to unveil their “THE BITCH IS DEAD” banner. Well done everyone there. And you, Snapdragon, the one with Costcutter sparkling Lambrusco, the one who rearranged the letters to say RIOT. Great work.

Regarding the death parties and the predominance of young people with a limited grasp of history and what made Thatcher necessary, I think we have to remember that for many lefties display is very important. It isn’t enough to have the Views One Ought To Have (even if bought wholesale). Little Snapdragon has to be seen having them. Credentials, you see. Which may explain the number of times I saw twitter exchanges in which some student would make a point of letting everyone know that he or she didn’t like Thatcher and that her death was amusing, etc, albeit for reasons that were far from clear. Occasionally, someone else would point out that to understand her importance and her landslide election victories, you have to understand the context and what had come before – i.e., lots and lots of statism and socialist control - and just how ruinous it was and where it was taking us.

Having followed a dozen or so such exchanges, what struck me was how some students would mention her “society” quote, invariably stripped of its context, or mutter something about “greed” and the apparently single-handed obliteration of mining. I couldn’t find anyone under 25 who seemed familiar with the much greater number of pit closures and job losses that took place under the previous Labour governments, or anyone who knew much at all about Mr Scargill and his pivotal role in that drama. The ‘partiers’ seemed to know almost nothing about this vain, seditious oaf - an avowed Stalinist who owned a collection of Saville Row suits – or his declared intention to use the NUM “to make a fundamental political and social transformation to Britain” by overthrowing parliamentary democracy, seizing control of the press and “abolishing capitalism.” All of which would be, in his words, “irreversible.” Scargill’s contempt for democracy and his ludicrous demands, which no credible government could ever hope to satisfy, were, oddly enough, not a common talking point.

Though I suppose such details might put a dint in the party mood.

New Girl

I'm a newbie here and don't usually leave comments but I just wanted to say thanks for some great discussion.

David

New Girl,

Welcome aboard. The more people join in, the better it tends to get.

Spiny Norman

... the death parties and the predominance of young people with a limited grasp of history and what made Thatcher necessary...

An awful lot of 20-somethings "with a limited grasp of history" (I would say "heads full of Marxist rubbish" instilled in them by failed revolutionary-wannabes* teaching them in government schools) have been trolling a great many conservative blogs today. In their view (deadly serious one!), Mrs Thatcher single-handedly wrecked the British economy and created an entire culture of government dependency among the poor and working class. They're the same sort of resentful mis-educated fools who claim Bill Clinton pulled America out of the "Reagan Depression"...

T.K.Tortch,

"Blood. Her head. Give us it. Screech!!"

*Yeah, them.

sackcloth and ashes

'Reminds me of the myth that the (excellent) TV series "Boys from the Blackstuff" was written as a response to the Thatcher years. It even says so on the DVD cover

The story was in fact largely written in 1978, during a Labour government. Transmission began October 1980, not long enough into her premiership to really be talking about "Thatcher's Britain"'.

That was news to me. You learn something new every day.

'It does make me wonder what, say, these teenagers would cite as the reason for their celebration. Are they actually new recruits to the Swuppie micro-cult, in which case their grasp of history and grip on reality may be somewhat suspect? Or are they just joining in because, hey, it’s what all the cool kids were doing? (And if 'Socialist Worker' types are now the cool kids, have we fallen through the looking glass?)'

How many were actually involved in these 'celebrations' in Brixton and Trafalgar Square? I saw hundreds involved, which suggests that most of Generation Y probably had better things to do with their time. If they were swuppies, then the question of how much they actually knew about British history in the 1970s and 1980s is an irrelevant one - the rank and file of the party (at least those of them left after the 'Comrade Delta' rape scandal) are sheep.

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