Margaret Thatcher dead at 87

Axon wrote:

There is no question that everyone at the very least respected her even if they disliked her.

Really? That contradicts many posts on this thread. Not to mention at least half of the internet right now.

I never respected her.

I'm no fan of hers, strangederby, but she was a supreme political operator. That is simply beyond dispute. You can respect that while still actively disliking her policies as I do.

@Axon I guess its just a case of us having a different understanding of what respect means, or how one earns it.

If a bully repeatedly hit me on the nose I wouldn't respect them.

Fear them and probably feel sorry for them but certainly not respect them.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

How's Canadian collaborator Mulroney's health?

He and his chin are still alive. If you're curious, here's what he had to say about Thatcher.

Axon wrote:

Indeed, spider_j. I'd go so far as to say that she is to the 20th century that Bismarck was to the 19th. There is no question that everyone at the very least respected her even if they disliked her.

You could spend a long time walking around the North of England before finding people who would say that. I didn't have one iota of respect for her.

And your example seems somewhat arbitrary - Bismarck was instrumental in pulling together a new nation-state, albeit in a highly realpolitik manner...Thatcher just pandered to the baser human instincts of envy, greed and fear while dismantling public services for profit.

Axon wrote:

I'm no fan of hers, strangederby, but she was a supreme political operator. That is simply beyond dispute. You can respect that while still actively disliking her policies as I do.

No, I cannot. It is easy to be a supreme political operator when you are a sociopath and have no objection to running roughshod over everyone to get your way. I wish she had spent her dying days in jail for being a traitor. Just like Reagan should have been imprisoned to live out the rest of his miserable life for betraying his country.

Iv'e been reading peoples comments on reddit and other sites and the internet seems to be full of well meaning Americans asking why people didn't love her more and angry Brits saying "You weren't there man,you just wern't there!"

strangederby wrote:

Iv'e been reading peoples comments on reddit and other sites and the internet seems to be full of well meaning Americans asking why people didn't love her more and angry Brits saying "You weren't there man,you just wern't there!"

"What do you mean you don't think kindly of Nixon?"

Axon wrote:

Getting back to Thatcher, her "best" legacy is the City of London. That is ultimately her single claim of success in that she improved the state of the UK economy. That is true in so far as GNP went up, nobody can argue with that fact. However she left a huge employment problem in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Entire towns in these regions are now vacant due to a policy that was needlessly harsh. You can argue that the industries involved were uncompetitive but I'm fairly sure wiping them out isn't the answer either. The industrial base of the UK is now a third of that of Germany or France which has resulted in a yawning trade gap with any trading partner.

It pretty much goes without saying that the success she did have, deregulation and liberalisation of financial trading, was a doomed policy. We know that now. The idea that you can shift the country the size of the UK to a services based economy is also proving to be a doomed policy.

On the foreign policy front she was all over the place. By all documented accounts she liked to see thing in very much black and white. This lead her to holding hardline positions on issues that only served to store up resentment for years, if not decades to come. The two I'd be most familiar with is her policy in Northern Ireland and the EEC/EU.

On Northern Ireland, she was an unmitigated disaster becoming a hate figure for both the Nationalist and Loyalists. A mean feat, to say the least (The details are a very long story). On the EEC (EU at the time), she did indeed win the famous rebate for Britain but the cost of vetoing every Council meeting until she got her way. This has now left Cameron and the UK with a continent or Member States that frankly doesn't trust him. Cameron wielding of the veto last year was almost cringe inducing given how ineffective it was. Again for a country that is heavily dependent on other people selling them actual physical things, not a good place to be.

The politics of how British end up in the south Atlantic aside, I'll give her her dues on Falkands. She was wrong to be quite so zealous about the Belgrano but she was right to defend her citizens. I've no problem with that and to try and compare it to Blair's Iraq is just silly. It was a brave mission that very nearly was scuppered by equally brave Argentinian pilots.

And lets be clear, Reagan and Thatcher legacy's on apartheid regime in South Africa was appalling. Cameron felt the need to apologise for her role in that relationship but I'm sure to some opposing communism, no matter how well its hidden, is always justified.

Touched on above by DanB, her privatisation policy was so bad that it is used as a template of how not to privatise state assets. We have learned that the only thing worse than a state monopoly is a private monopoly. Heck, oligopoly is just as bad. Given how far the UK rail network has fallen behind the rest of Europe's, the only way I can see it improving is through the large semi-state companies like Deutsche Bahn or SNCF which will make a mockery of the policy. You could argue that privatisation in the telecoms market did improve things but it was only until Ofcom was given proper oversight to regulate the market and put manner on BT. I'm not against privatisation as a policy but following it as an ideology has proven to be unwise.

To be fair to her though, the unions had gotten ludicrously out of control in the 70s' and in a way they created the stick they were beaten with. While Thatcher finished off a lot of British industry, the unions left to their own devices would have done the same albeit in less time. In 1979 I would be hard pressed to see how I wouldn't have voted for Thatcher given the state the country was in at the time. 83 not so much.

I could have expanded on all the points above all night but sum up (some of) the US and the City of London thinks she is wonderful. Everyone else not so much. A little bit like Churchill actually but that's other story and I'm sure she wouldn't mind the comparison

Thanks for that post, it's nice to get a bit of detail as to why people hate Thatcher so much.

I knew about the union thing, yet despite the fact I lean left I think the unions would have killed British industry even faster and I'm not sure what else she could have done.

It's weirdly comforting that there were other reasons to be opposed to her.

I like this article about Thatcher and the familiarity and vitriol people treat her with

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I knew about the union thing, yet despite the fact I lean left I think the unions would have killed British industry even faster and I'm not sure what else she could have done.

Citation needed.

The problem with this statement is that it's little more than a right-wing talking point. It's gained truthiness through extensive, continuous repetition rather than any genuine structured critique of union action or of the economics of specific industries. It's really little more than propaganda. No doubt the global economics of the fossil fuel market would have put paid to Welsh coal mining eventually, whether the unions wanted it to happen or otherwise. But to take the logic of that one example in that specific industry and apply it across all UK industries speaks more for the desire for idealogical change rather than anything economically just nor rational.

incidentally this is my favourite Thatcher article so far

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...

Ding dong! The witch is dead! soars up the UK charts in honor of the Iron Lady.

I gotta say, the dissonance between the reaction online and the electoral success is some of the craziest I have ever seen. For someone who won arguably 4 elections (79, 83, 87, and I'd give her credit for '92 depending on your feelings on John Major), it seems like few online will admit actually voting for (her party) or holding affection for her. You would think that if she was so odious, there would've been a hard, hard radical leftist counter-party to her (sort of how the Tea Party was a hard reaction to Obama), rather than sort of 90s Labour that was influenced by her. I feel like there's a large "silent majority" effect.

The Guardian has a poll out:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/09/thatcher-flagship-policies-guardian-icm-poll

The results show that at her death, 50-34 said she was good for Britain, although many of her individual policies are underwater. Super interesting.

There's no "silent majority" in this, Iridium. The Prime Minister is not directly elected, and it's entirely possible for the PM to be less popular than her party, as happened to Thatcher. Voters elect representatives in Commons, and then whoever can put together a majority (via coalition, if needed) puts up a PM to lead government.

Imagine the US House electing the President from among it's members, the Senate composed of lifetime, inherited seats granted by, let's say, the Walton Family Trust, and elections called at any time by the political leadership. That would put us even further from representative democracy than we are today. Remember, the whole issue with the UK system is that it *wasn't* very representative, compared to the US... It works, but differently.

Ken Loach has won the put down awards with this beauty"Let’s privatize her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender & accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she would have wanted"

Iridium884 wrote:

I gotta say, the dissonance between the reaction online and the electoral success is some of the craziest I have ever seen. For someone who won arguably 4 elections (79, 83, 87, and I'd give her credit for '92 depending on your feelings on John Major), it seems like few online will admit actually voting for (her party) or holding affection for her.

As pointed out earlier a combination of first-past-the-post elections, a very marked north-south political divide and a total lack of a credible mainstream leftist party during that period meant that the tories could win the by focussing principally on the voters in the wealthier South. A fact that did not escape the New Labour of the 90s (although you'd be hard pressed to find anyone on the left in the UK that would agree that New Labour are on the left in anything other than name).

Iridium884 wrote:

You would think that if she was so odious, there would've been a hard, hard radical leftist counter-party to her (sort of how the Tea Party was a hard reaction to Obama), rather than sort of 90s Labour that was influenced by her.

Not really, the UK had done really, really well with the social democractic policies of the 50s and 60s. That's where the left in the UK is largely at so there has never been any strong support for the radical left in the UK.

Edit: Also the radical left in the UK is mostly associated with the SWP who are largely regarded as a bunch of fruitloops. Partly due to terrible, terrible PR but mostly due to being a bunch of fruitloops.

Previously to her death, I had more admiration than hatred for Thatcher. I agree with a number of her economic policies, although it sounds like she took things too far and didn't account enough for the social fallout.

But I've since learned much of her international policy is appaling. I just read an article where she seriously pushed for the ethnic cleansing of all Irish Catholics from Northern Ireland. I can sympathize with South Africans about how she treated them, but I can empathize with the Irish Catholics. I'm only like two generations removed on my mom's side and have a number of relatives still living near Dublin. It's interesting to find out that much of this stuff was not covered in the US media at the time. We just saw Thatcher as a scrappy fighter and close US ally.

I still stand by my thoughts that it's ok to criticize her after death, but it's still in poor taste to break out the champagne or revel on social media about her suffering in the final days of her life. And there's no excuse for rioting (which has been reported but I don't know how widespread it is).

This Salon writer - who also happened to be one of her political opponents during her time as PM - said it best IMHO:

Nobody’s saying you have to be sad Margaret Thatcher has shuffled off this mortal coil, or making you send a sympathy card to Rick Warren. Nobody’s saying, in fact, that you have to take a single day off from despising either of them. Just don’t be a jackass, OK? Few of us will ever attain much power and influence in our lives, but when we’re gone all of us will be measured by how we’re remembered. And who’d ever want to be remembered as the person who saw a family’s loss and celebrated?
jdzappa wrote:

Previously to her death, I had more admiration than hatred for Thatcher. I agree with a number of her economic policies, although it sounds like she took things too far and didn't account enough for the social fallout.

But I've since learned much of her international policy is appaling. I just read an article where she seriously pushed for the ethnic cleansing of all Irish Catholics from Northern Ireland. I can sympathize with South Africans about how she treated them, but I can empathize with the Irish Catholics. I'm only like two generations removed on my mom's side and have a number of relatives still living near Dublin. It's interesting to find out that much of this stuff was not covered in the US media at the time. We just saw Thatcher as a scrappy fighter and close US ally.

I still stand by my thoughts that it's ok to criticize her after death, but it's still in poor taste to break out the champagne or revel on social media about her suffering in the final days of her life. And there's no excuse for rioting (which has been reported but I don't know how widespread it is).

This Salon writer - who also happened to be one of her political opponents during her time as PM - said it best IMHO:

Nobody’s saying you have to be sad Margaret Thatcher has shuffled off this mortal coil, or making you send a sympathy card to Rick Warren. Nobody’s saying, in fact, that you have to take a single day off from despising either of them. Just don’t be a jackass, OK? Few of us will ever attain much power and influence in our lives, but when we’re gone all of us will be measured by how we’re remembered. And who’d ever want to be remembered as the person who saw a family’s loss and celebrated?

I encourage the champagne. Its the push back to lionizing people just because they died or sitting on your hands mum. Also its social media, if people are going out of their way to berate her family that's another thing entirely.

It allows journalists to recount what actually happened at the time and let people judge themselves. If everyone was too polite to actually bring up her record when she died I doubt you would be reading about her foreign policy.

Kinda fitting I've been watching some of the Sopranos recently and I watched the episode where Tonys mother died yesterday. I prefer Carmella ranting about how much of bitch she actually was than everyone just being mum.

Nobody’s saying you have to be sad Margaret Thatcher has shuffled off this mortal coil, or making you send a sympathy card to Rick Warren. Nobody’s saying, in fact, that you have to take a single day off from despising either of them. Just don’t be a jackass, OK? Few of us will ever attain much power and influence in our lives, but when we’re gone all of us will be measured by how we’re remembered. And who’d ever want to be remembered as the person who saw a family’s loss and celebrated?

That sounds like people trying to influence how Thatcher is measured/remembered. If all people can remember are bad things about her, giving voice to those bad memories is entirely appropriate. A grieving family doesn't give the deceased a get-out-of-criticism free card.

Ok, I'll accept that I'm stretching it on the respect issue. I come from a background that respecting your opponents is vital in order to understand your and their strengths and weaknesses. I was a little too loose with its use for liking and I can see where you are all coming from.

DanB, I think the state of the UK in the 70s' was a little more than talking points. Its wasn't dubbed the sick man of Europe for nothing. The program of nationalisation in in 50s led to much of the UK's industrial base being placed under governmental management. It wasn't just coal either, steel, transport, telecoms, and even car manufacture was in the mix as well. This was fine when the UK was so dominant globally but when the 60s' and 70s' rolled in and as Britain slipped down the league tables as regional competitors recovered from the war and the Commonwealth became less useful economically, supporting both a welfare state and a foreign policy that demanded large military spend couldn't be sustained.

The 70s' were not good by any metric for Britain. Sure the oil crisis sparked it all off but the underlying weakness was there. High inflation, increasing unemployment and deficits meant at one point Callaghan had to call in the IMF for help (something conveniently forgotten today). The problem was that in order to solve the issue you needed to reorganise industry and labour in Britain but what you had were industries that were controlled by unions that could bring down governments. Both Callaghan and Heath faced their wraith through the Winter of Discontent and the now infamous three day week.

The three day week in the more important of the two in respect to understanding Thatcher. During the early 70's the Heath (Conservative) led government tried to cap salaries in order to stop inflation (something the Germans did in 2000 so its hardly that bad). The unions didn't like it and started a work to rule program which reduced coal output so much the government started a three day week to converse electricity output. This ultimately was the downfall of Heath but also of the unions itself. Thatcher, seeing the power of the coal miners, cooked up her plan to smash the them in 74, five years before she took power and there is actually good evidence that this was her biggest goal.

If the unions under Labour behaved better, then maybe Thatcher's policies could have been avoided but Callaghan ran into the same inflation/salaries problem and the unions started the Winter of Discontent and effectively brought down another government. Cue Thatcher and her plan. Scargill, NUM president, wasn't the best man at the time either but that's another story.

I'll say it again, the unions gave Thatcher the stick to beat them with. However, what she did with that stick was appalling that is no doubt. I'm still moved to this day seeing the men of Mardy returning to work and the needless harm she caused to communities all around the UK. Germany clearly shows us that unions are not bad for industry, manufacturing in the first world is possible and reasonable reforms are possible. She has proven to be demonstrably incorrect in what she did. Things is, we cannot not try and claim that she decided to smash the coal miners in a vacuum.

Sorry if I'm over explaining but I'm not sure non-UK readers might be reading.

Yesterday I did an exercise with a group getting them to paint a Union Jack flag blowing in the wind and being lit by the sun from being. It's a good way to look at painting cloth and capturing light. One chap said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I think it's appropriate that we are painting a Union Jack the day after Mrs Thatcher died." Several ladies bristled. One said, "Don't start."
"We haven't had a good argument for a while," he said.

Later, as we were finishing up, one lady was saying she had enjoyed it but that she wouldn't hang the picture on her wall. The pro Thatcher guy said, "I would."
"Next to your portrait of Margaret Thatcher," I suggested. He chuckled happily.

jdzappa wrote:

But I've since learned much of her international policy is appaling. I just read an article where she seriously pushed for the ethnic cleansing of all Irish Catholics from Northern Ireland. I can sympathize with South Africans about how she treated them, but I can empathize with the Irish Catholics. I'm only like two generations removed on my mom's side and have a number of relatives still living near Dublin. It's interesting to find out that much of this stuff was not covered in the US media at the time. We just saw Thatcher as a scrappy fighter and close US ally

She was simply clueless in relation to Northern Ireland. Well, that's the best thing I can say. The evidence coming out about the "Dirty War" get more troubling as the years pass. I must see if I can find a straight link to a debate the other night I heard on the radio. You'd find it very interesting. In the meantime go to Newstalk.ie and click on the "Listen Back" menu option on the top of the page. You want to listen to part 2 of the Coleman at Large from the 9th of April. Really full blooded debate about her legacy on the North.

I remember a documentary about the siege at the Iranian embassy and the implication was that Maggie told the SAS not to take any prisoners.

jdzappa wrote:

It's interesting to find out that much of this stuff was not covered in the US media at the time. We just saw Thatcher as a scrappy fighter and close US ally.

Which just makes a point about the US media since the 80's that many of us have been strenuously arguing for years... The coverage on the right has been biased for decades, and now to it's disgrace some news sources on the left are turning in the same kind of performances. In large part, the rise of the right has been accelerated and eased by Rupert Murdoch, in both countries.

Robear wrote:

There's no "silent majority" in this, Iridium. The Prime Minister is not directly elected, and it's entirely possible for the PM to be less popular than her party, as happened to Thatcher. Voters elect representatives in Commons, and then whoever can put together a majority (via coalition, if needed) puts up a PM to lead government.

Imagine the US House electing the President from among it's members, the Senate composed of lifetime, inherited seats granted by, let's say, the Walton Family Trust, and elections called at any time by the political leadership. That would put us even further from representative democracy than we are today. Remember, the whole issue with the UK system is that it *wasn't* very representative, compared to the US... It works, but differently.

Just to pick you up here, Robear, while PMs certainly aren't elected directly they are essentially the face of the party during the general election and to all intents and purpose elected by the public. In many seats you could run a trained money for all the difference it makes as ultimately the votes are going to the party leaders by proxy. Its not quite like just voting for your local representative and they then select the leader after the election. Leaders are voted by the party usually years before the general election occurs. In fact, Thatcher won as leader of the Tories by appealing to the membership and not the parliamentary party.

What is problematic is the voting system. I've banged this drum repeatedly but first-past-the-post or plurality voting systems are what causes unrepresentative systems not the structure of the government itself. For example here in Ireland we use proportional representation (name gives you the clue ) but have the exact same government structure as the UK. What results is a parliament that is representative of public opinion.

The best example is Tony Blair post the Iraq War. He was deeply unpopular, still is, but he and Alistair Campbell worked out in the most cynical fashion that they could focus on a select number of seats in order to maximise their chance of retaining power. In the end the Labour Party only received 35.2% of the votes nationally but won a total majority of seats in parliament. Thatcher never won a majority either, its worth pointing out, only hitting about 42%. This is similar to the way Presidential elections are going in the US with the focusing on a couple of key battleground states making some people votes more important than others. Basically first-past-the-post forces you to pick the least worst option and not your first preference. Of course this is even ignoring the fact that the two largest parties in first-past-the-post systems gerrymander the system to entrench their positions even further but that's another can of worms.

Axon wrote:

Basically first-past-the-post forces you to pick the least worst option and not your first preference.

A fact not lost on those who voted Lib-Dem in the last election.

Axon wrote:

Basically first-past-the-post forces you to pick the least worst option and not your first preference. Of course this is even ignoring the fact that the two largest parties in first-past-the-post systems gerrymander the system to entrench their positions even further but that's another can of worms.

Yep, I love the fact that my vote is basically worthless because my area is such a Labour strong hold that they could put a red ribbon on a can of coke and it would get elected.

Apparently quite a few people on Twitter thought Cher had died after this topic appeared:

@nowthatcherisdead

Higgledy wrote:

Apparently quite a few people on Twitter thought Cher had died after this topic appeared:

@nowthatcherisdead

I don't know why, but I love that.

That is why LISP is so cool. And APL is so cryptic.