Ok, I give in. I have to write something on the subject. The media are not going to shut up, as I had hoped. Days after Margaret Thatcher died we are still getting quotes, anecdotes tributes, vitriol and all manner of unnecessary and prurient detail coming at us from all sides. It will undoubtedly continue until after the funeral next Wednesday when, once again, my daily dose of Bargain Hunt will probably be cancelled to make way for something I don’t want to be part of.
The debate in Parliament yesterday was full of sycophantic hypocrisy from all sides. Her gender was to the fore but the fact that she was born a woman has very little relevance to her legacy in my opinion – she didn’t exhibit any of those traits that make me proud to be female. It was likely that only those Labour members of Parliament who stayed away were expressing their true feelings and to many the gesture just looked disrespectful. But if you do feel as strongly as they do and believe someone destroyed your community it would have been impossible to sit and listen to all that tosh without a fit of apoplexy. They were looking after their health, if nothing else.
I was born and brought up in Margaret Thatcher’s constituency of Finchley in North London. When I was first able to vote, there was simply no point – she always won by a mile. However, my family did vote – Labour and more recently Lib Dem – and I distinctly remember my Mum saying that when Mrs T walked down our street she would have liked to throw a bottle of ink at her. No love lost there then. But Mum was no flag waving socialist; and my father had views I suspect would chime well with UKIP now. We lived in a relatively comfortable suburb, largely unaffected by her brand of conviction politics. Even if you weren’t a direct victim of her divisive policies there was something about her that just rubbed people up the wrong way.
And now we discover that she died at The Ritz. She is to have a ceremonial funeral that will cost millions and apparently this is being justified, financially, on the basis that she ‘saved us billions on our EU rebate’. Pardon me, but you can’t pick and choose on our austerity measures. If we are truly all in this together she should have been holding court in a Costa Coffee. Her ‘remains’ as they were frequently referred to by the ghastly Nick Witchell should be in cheap pine; the handles unscrewed and recycled before she goes through the curtain in the crem. There are many people in struggling communities quietly making this world a better place to live in who aren’t being paraded through the streets of London and eulogized before 2,000 people – including the Queen- in St Pauls. Even some of the most right-wing voices in the press are suggesting this is not appropriate. She may be an historic figure, but she was not a saint. By the end of her tenure at 10 Downing Street, even her friends knew she had become a liability.
So shouldn’t it be ‘Margaret Thatcher exits, quietly and with dignity, stage left‘?
The funeral will happen; we can’t stop it. But there has already been a backlash against the Conservatives in opinion polls as people are reminded of those years in which social cohesion was sacrificed in the name of opportunist greed. If only we could stand here and say that Tony Blair was not her direct descendant…..
But there is a tiny crumb of comfort. Let the last line of her obituary read:
“Jeremy Clarkson came to her funeral….”