Well, it seems that everyone and their mother has thrown in their tuppence on this topic, so much so that there is very little really left to say. Those on the Right has extolled her graces. Those on the Left have trampled her name in the mud. Some have called for people to leave a poor old lady’s grieving family alone. Others have claimed that such a public figure has no claim to such anonymity. Some have held death parties, while others lined the streets for the funeral.
There have been many times since Margaret Thatcher’s death that I’ve wanted to wade in to the many arguments, but I pride myself that I have more sense than that. Everyone had already made up their minds and so I kept out of it, lest I further encourage more vitriol or pointless rehashing of well worn arguments.
But having read through so many articles, I’ve found there is one little thing that I keep wanting to be mentioned that so far people keep missing. So, despite the already vast amount of words about her death already filling the internet, I’ll add just a few more.
One of the arguments throughout this whole situation has been the possible lack of taste, or not, that has been shown by people celebrating Thatcher’s death. Many have counter-argued, quite fairly, that they hated her in life for what she did to them and so pretending otherwise now would be hypocritical. But then maybe, as many on the Right have argued, the old adage of not speaking ill of the dead raises its head, and those who disagreed with her should remain silent for the duration.
They also argue that these celebrations do not seem exclusively populated by those who lived through the 1980s. Many involved are too young to even remember Thatcher, or even to have been alive when she was in power. They are just jumping on a bandwagon, upsetting a grieving family and looking to cause trouble.
And this is where my thought comes in. After so long, 34 years since she came to power and 23 since her own party threw her out of it, Margaret Thatcher cease long ago to be a mere person. Love her or loathe her, she has transpired mere humanity (if you believe she ever had any) and became an “-ism”.
‘Thatcherism’ is more than just one woman; it is something that represents an entire era. An era of the haves and have nots, that for many people represents a time where their way of life was dismantled, for better or for worse, in the name of a political ideology. In exactly the same way that Marxism isn’t the study of what Karl Marx did as an individual, neither is Thatcherism simply down to the actions of one politician.
What these people are celebrating it the symbolic death, through the woman, of the -ism. While Thatcher did many things, and was the leading light of the ideology that took her name, she was not the whole thing. She was a symbol of what it stood for, and it is the death of that symbol that is being celebrated. While the world is by no means free of it, we can believe that our society has moved on where the violent social upheavals are a thing of the past.
And its the same for the other side. The current Tory government can argue that they are mourning a mere woman all they like, what they are doing to worshiping the idol of Thatcherism, and the power it gave them, one last time.
So before anyone starts to turn on those supposedly using death of a weak old lady in the name of political capital, Margaret Thatcher long ago surpassed being such a basic concept as ‘one person’.
Thatcher, was an ‘-ism’. Nothing less.