While I am chipping away, tying myself in knots trying to make a little sense of some lovely old soul music, Life & indeed Death is passing me by. There have been too many times this month that I have been reading too many obituaries. Anyway we have lost some noteworthy people in April & it is only right that I check for some of those who have meant the most to me.
Of course the one who had the most effect on my life was our first female Prime Minister, er, that bloody woman ! The avalanche of hoo-ha & fol-de-rol generated by her death brought into focus a couple of issues that I already knew but perhaps I tried to ignore. First, history is written by the winners. A cavalcade of the not-so-great & the certainly not good passed across our TV screens to assign her a place alongside other British heroes. Any dissenting voice was smeared as being disrespectful of both the deceased & the bereaved & thus emanating from someone who was not a very nice person…Same as it ever was ! I was also reminded just how comprehensively the Left were defeated by Thatcher. The catch-all idealism of the Sixties had splintered in the Seventies into often separate groups (women, homosexuals, people of colour, drug activists) attempting to further their own agenda. This atomisation of activism allowed the forces of reaction to roll back much of the progress made. Our arses were not only firmly kicked & handed back to us but, in the prevailing spirit of putting a dollar sign on to everything, we were expected to pay to get them back.
This decimation of any opposition was complete when New Labour under Tony Blair determined to renounce the party’s traditional social democratic base in favour of policies which bribed those who voted on the basis of what was in it for them. I am afraid that I found the fragmentary, scattergun critique of her political career to be a mirror & a consequence of that defeat. The most visible protest was to download a song from “The Wizard Of Oz” so that it would be on the charts…yeah right, that’ll show ’em. The most eloquent were often those who had confronted the Tories & had proved to not be up to the job. At least they did so with an ideological commitment & a sense of representing more than their own narrow interests. Now, not even as blatant a crime as our country’s involvement in an illegal & ill-judged war produced a unified opposition. Ideology ? Is that a real word ?
For myself, I hated her more than I have hated any other person in my lifetime. Her policies of de-industrialisation were class war masquerading as good housekeeping. She was either unaware of any social consequences of her actions or, frighteningly, knew exactly what she was doing and did not care. Thatcher & her party abandoned a strata of British society by whose labours, resolve & sense of fairness World Wars were won, an Empire built, an Industrial Revolution achieved without a revolution. There are many ills in our society which have their genesis in the economic free-for-all, “there is no such thing as society” fallacy which she instigated in place of the post-war consensus. Thatcher is dead but Thatcherism …ah man, the apolitical blues is the meanest blues I know.
I am not the sort of person who would do something as lame as prepare a “bucket list”, things to do before I die. Keep the door & the mind open to all experience all the time. There is just one thing I really, really do intend to do. I WILL dance on that fucking woman’s grave. I just have to.