Margaret Thatcher

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.

20 thoughts on “Margaret Thatcher

  1. I really don’t know much about Thatcher at all, but she seems like a horrid woman and a dangerous politician. Some of her policies and decisions sound completely shameful and unethical. I guess it doesn’t matter what gender they are – all politicians are selfish and power-hungry. Can you be in politics and not be out for yourself?

    • Anbolyn,

      The above is a VERY biased view of the Thatcher years. Margaret Thatcher saved Britain. Stop.

      Jane

      • Jane,
        Unfortunately everything I wrote is absolutely true, I know as I was there as an adult, experiencing it all. I could say an awful lot more but people who didn’t see what happened wouldn’t believe it – of course.

      • “Margaret Thatcher saved Britain.”
        Where is this saved Britain?
        No succeeding Government reversed her policies and we are now on our uppers – as a direct consequence of her decisions.
        She destroyed the country I grew up in and loved.
        Britons are now much less compassionate, less caring, greedier, more selfish and more self-serving. The notion that money is the motivation for everything and anything has utterly corroded the social fabric.
        If this is the state of being saved I’d rather not have been.

        • Jack,
          Well said! I also meant to say that it was Thatcher who started up all this incapacity benefit nonsense, so that she could manipulate the massive unemployment statistics which mounted up over her tenure. Now we have the ludicrous situation where people claim disability if they have a sore toe! This particularly annoys me as my father was genuinely disabled from the age of 4 but he would never have dreamt of calling himself disabled or incapacitated and brought up his family with no help from the state.
          However the Tories are now trying to rectify the situation, but seem to be busy putting the genuinely disabled off inacapacity benefit. Why can they never get things right?! Common sense is required but is in short supply.

    • Anbolyn,
      Very dangerous, she was half mad before she got to power and completely mad by the time her own Conservative party kicked her out – which they all seem to have forgotten! Yes, they all become politicians nowadays to line their own pockets, not do the best for other people and the country, as they should.

  2. You had Thatcher, we had Reagan. Politicians still fall all over themselves trying to convince people they are just like Reagan. But I, and a lot of other people, never thought Reagan was all that. He presided over arms deals and a bad economy, helped the rich get richer and made life even more difficult for the poor but somehow it has become this magical golden age. I was surprised at all the Thatcher hurrahs in the US and even more surprised at all the hullaballoo over there. Short memories indeed!

    • Stefanie,
      What a terrible time it was for us what with Reagan and Thatcher having a love in for years, while they blighted the world. You’re absolutely right, their behaviour towards the vast majority of us was disgusting and the greed and pursuit of money at the expense of poorer people was shocking. I’ve been amazed at the rubbish which people who should know better have been spouting this week. Think yourself lucky that you haven’t had to pay for that funeral, which I couldn’t bring myself to watch! I want my tax money back!

    • Right on, Stefanie!

      I can’t understand this nation’s love affair with Reagan and its refusal to see that he was little more than a puppet.

      Judith

      • Judith,
        Talking about him being a puppet, remember Nancy prompting him out of the corner of her mouth! A scream but a worry at the same time as he obviously wasn’t up to the job.

  3. Katrina,
    I enthusiastically applaud your treatise. Actually, I think you were extremely reserved in your criticisms. If I had been at your elbow, I might have encouraged you to dig deeper, but all in all, I think you wrote a marvelous piece!

    In a similar vein, I have always, always wondered HOW people can possibly think that Reagan was such a stupendous president. He was fortunate, perhaps, to have advisors who at least had half a brain, though they didn’t seem to have any concept of how to move beyond the Cold War. Thatcher and Reagan had nothing to do with ending the Cold War. I’m an historian of U.S. history. I’ve written article upon article about national security during this era. If it weren’t for Gorbachev and the people of the Eastern bloc, the Cold War would have lasted for many, many more years.

    And, if I may, I understand to an even greater depth how you feel about Thatcher because of the eight years that the world (and Ken and I) suffered with George W. Bush. Someday, someday, so many books will be written about his administration and the irreparable damage that was done to U.S. foreign affairs and diplomacy. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld did more to damage our relations with the Middle East and the world in the 21st century than anyone can imagine. The topic will be the subject of volumes in the not-too-distant future. Mark my words!

    In empathy,
    Judith

    • Judith,
      Thanks, but I had to stop somewhere, I could go on for days on this subject! Reagan certainly seemed like HE only had half a brain, if that.
      Funnily enough I just had a conversation with Pearl on Facebook last week about the Cold War, I pointed out it was Gorbachev who brought about the end of it and that a lot of Russians are now nostalgic for the old days when they didn’t have to worry about unemployment and the Russian mafia running amok! The next thing they’ve taken the mayhem to the US – well Chechens have anyway.
      I well remember watching the Gore/Bush election and going to sleep in the early hours happy that Gore had won, only to wake up to a nightmare. Hail the Thief! In my humble o – it’s about time that the US stopped propping up Israel – but that’s a whole other can of worms.

      • Well, Katrina, I’m afraid the US is as stuck as a bug to flypaper with that one, whether we like it or not. I’m not against supporting Israel, especially against the likes of Iran, but I want to support the people in Palestine as well, who have suffered horrendously for decades and decades with what the “world” decided in 1948. No need for that, and it’s shameful that the U.S., the U.N., and Israel have only fanned the flames, much to Israel’s detriment. Israel would be stronger, much stronger, if they recognized a Palestine state, no question, and, in my opinion, Israel would be wise to realize that it’s not Palestine that’s their BIG enemy. Concentrate your energy and resources where they’re needed.

        Say hi to Jack for me! I liked his comments.

        Best wishes for a greenery in your garden this week!
        Judith

        • Judith,
          I agree, it’s such a shame that they couldn’t share in 1948. It amazes me that they couldn’t see what they were doing to the Palestinians, the sad thing is they are all the same tribe, if you go right back. I had an uncle who wasn’t de-mobbed after WW2 but was sent to Palestine where the Israelis were the terrorists, no fun for our soldiers and RAF – as he was.
          Jack says hi. My daffodils have come up and blown flat in the high winds!

  4. Trying to stay out of this one. Nothing more polarizing than politics (except perhaps for religion…and I find it best to walk away there as well.)

    I have found that the level of polarization these days has caused individual passions to reach such heights as to preclude rational discourse and even destroy friendships.

    Interesting that each of the women leaders you mentioned appears to be a historical singularity.

    • Pearl,
      I know what you mean, but I’ve been so fed up with young people pontificating about a time when they weren’t even born, or were small children, and they are obviously clueless about the reality.

      I don’t know if other countries have been put off electing women after Thatcher, or women don’t want the job, or they don’t fancy being assassinated as Indira Ghandi was.

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