Ding dong! Maggie’s dirty deeds live on


From a 2004 column in Daily Mail on what happened to the working class in Britain after Margaret Thatcher’s successful crusade to kill the miners’ union:

… What the [coal miners’] strike represented to us was a set of values worth fighting for. It was never simply about pay. It was about the threat Thatcher’s free-market philosophy meant to their way of life, to their communities, to the very idea of trade unions.

Looking back, the Right wing Press cleverly presented Thatcher’s ideology as the inevitable future – an economy based on privatisation and deregulation.

This meant closing the pits, so the miners were represented as fighting for the past. Nobody much mentioned that this past included a time when a working man’s dignity, self-sacrifice and solidarity were considered virtues.
But look who was right and who was wrong.

The future that Thatcher fought for has arrived in the pit villages where the mines are shut down. It is the future of drug addiction, social deprivation and part-time, temporary, non-unionised jobs.

Thatcher worked like a pearl-bedecked fanatic to transform the Britain of Clement Attlee into a lean, mean corporate machine — a middleweight version of what the USA has become. It’s almost as if her policies were conceived to flatter Ronald Reagan, the union-busting blowhard who was her ideological paramour. Too bad the two of them didn’t run off together in the early 1980s and buy a million-acre plantation, or a dude ranch, instead of wrecking millions of lives.

Footnote: Polly Toynbee of Guardian tried to write nice things about the Iron Witch, mostly by favorably comparing her to David Cameron. But near the end of Toynbee’s column was this:

When [Thatcher] walked into Downing Street promising harmony instead of discord, only one in seven children was poor and Britain was more equal than at any time in modern history. But within a few years, a third of children were poor, a sign of the yawning inequality from which the country never recovered.

One more: I’ll bet E.P. “Yip” Harburg, who wrote the lyrics for The Wizard of Oz movie (1939), would have loved that Thatcher’s death breathed new life into “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.” which almost reached the top of the pops this week in Britain. As Ed Lamb recently noted, Harburg was a lifelong leftist who also co-wrote “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” an anthem from the Depression that preceded the one we’re in now.

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3 Responses to Ding dong! Maggie’s dirty deeds live on

  1. You should read Owen Jones “Chavs – the Demonization of the working class”,an incredibly lucid account of how this inequality in Britain was engineered and how the working class was fooled into believing that they were middle class or indoctrinated to hate itself.

    • oddmanout215 says:

      I was thinking of equivalent American terms for “chavs.” None of them are very nice… It works the same way in America. Convince the poor to be ashamed of their poverty, to the point where they’re in denial about it and cling to the idea that they’re middle-class… Thanks for the recommendation.

      • I just moved to the US from the UK and I’d be very much interested in books you can recommend. Owen Jones is someone to watch, he is still quite young but intelligent and articulate.
        Another thing I’d figured you may like is the movies of Patrick Keiller, in which the effects of Thatcherism are narrated by means of a cinematic travelogue full of literary references. I have posted a small clip on my blog, although it may be a bit too pretentiously British for you – check it out. Finally, I was there when Maggie died and I have to say the accounts of miners and affected communities on TV were heartbreaking. The news was mainly dominated by Tory propaganda, though. It was quite sickening.

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