I warn you, this is a rant which you probably won’t want to read, but I felt the need to write it.
Well, it’s all over now, I hope, because the TV coverage since the death of Margaret Thatcher has seemed unending and for the most part was complete nonsense. People seem to have such short memories. Cameron obviously wanted to make her funeral a massive affair, hoping that he can grab some popularity from it along the way. Some hope!
It so happens that I turned 18 not long before the election which put Thatcher into power, so it was my first ever voting experience, of course I didn’t vote for her, silly! But I clearly remember being flummoxed because people seemed to think that it was a big deal having a female prime minister and I just never thought it was anything to write home about. There are obviously a few reasons for that namely Mrs Indira Ghandi (India), Mrs Golda Meir (Israel), Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka) and Vigdis Finnbogadottir (Iceland) all of whom had been prime ministers of their countries when I was a youngster and were often on TV. To me,it seemed that we in Britain were lagging behind the rest, not trail blazing.
So I’ve been truly amazed that young women this week have been saying that Thatcher was a woman who inspired them, simply because she got to that position. It doesn’t seem to have been important to them to actually do some research and find out what she actually did for other women, and the other 49% of the population.
If they had they would have discovered that she did everything she could to keep other women down. She was one of those dreadful women who despised other females, she was to be the only queen bee in that hive. They might also have realised that Denis Thatcher was very much behind his wife, she could never have got where she did without him, but like all people who pull the strings, he kept very much in the background, whilst making sure that everything was done for the benefit of his business and that of his cronies.
Not satisfied with that, Thatcher spent her time in power blatantly pursuing arms deals with Saudi Arabia, on behalf of her son. So shameless was she in this, the civil servants eventually complained to parliament about her behaviour and she was hauled up to answer for her behaviour. But she got off with it, claiming she was battling for Britain!!!
Cakes and Ale – a traditional way of saying bribery as that is how it was done in Georgian times, was supposed to be stopped hundreds of years ago. Thatcher even bribed in the extreme. Her policy of selling council houses to tenants at 90% discounts was just a massive bribe to get them to vote Tory next time around, which of course they did because they also put around a rumour that Labour would grab the houses back from them if they got into power. That’s all bad enough, but the fact that she refused to allow any more council houses to be built meant that it was inevitable that there was going to be a housing crisis, no homes to rent for people who genuinely couldn’t afford to buy a home, and property prices exploded.
For the Thatcher generation interest rates were at 6% for the entire time that they were paying a mortgage, in fact I know some people who managed to get a mortgage of 25 years length at 3% for the entire life of the loan. However when we bought our first house, just after Thatcher came into power, the mortgage rate had doubled between the time we bought it and actually moving in, a few months later.
That meant we had to pay double what we had been expecting to pay, and we had a maximum mortgage as that was the only way we could buy a house. Obviously the same went for the rest of the population and there were thousands of families who just couldn’t pay their mortgage and had their homes re-possessed. Homelessness was massive, not because people had maxed out on credit cards, hardly anybody had those in the 1970s, but simply because it wasn’t possible to pay ordinary bills as everything was so much more expensive than it had been.
She imposed the poll tax on Scotland a year before England got it. Obviously when you buy a house you factor in what was at that time the rates and you calculated what you could afford to pay each month, surprise surprise, our poll tax monthly bill was a lot more than our rates had been.
(Later on, when we were in the house we have now, we lived through Black Wednesday in 1992, when Jack came home from work we just looked at each other and laughed, as otherwise we would have been crying. That was the day that under her acolytes the interest rates went up to the highest they have ever been. I was at home with two toddlers, so we had only one wage coming in.)
All in all, the Thatcher years were a complete nightmare, luckily we survived them, but an awful lot of people didn’t, one way or another. A lot of couples divorced due to the financial strains and her policy of getting rid of all of our heavy industries, just to break the unions has devastated large parts of the country, and they have never recovered. But I don’t suppose that matters, as those places are just in the north of England and Scotland and Wales.
Well, I see that I’m at 918 words, and really I’ve hardly scratched the surface, I haven’t mentioned the fact that she sold off our family silver and privatised all of our utilities with the result that the profits from gas and electricity which should be going to the country’s coffers is now going into the pockets of share holders, and we are held to ransom by the likes of Russia and Poland, as we get our gas and coal from them, but you’ve probably given up on my rant by now. Never mind, it has made me feel better.
The one good thing which Margaret Thatcher did was to treat Scotland with such disdain that we were all determined that they wouldn’t get a chance to have so much power over us again, remember, we were ruled by the Tories despite the fact that there were only about two Scottish Conservative MPs. So we got Scottish devolution out of those ghastly years, every cloud has a silver lining.