The death of Margaret Thatcher has stirred up unpleasant memories on a national level. The mere mention of her name evokes a divided nation where you either loved or hated the woman. Even her own party ultimately chose to boot her out of power. As a woman who lived under her government, I remember back in the eighties and nineties when many of my female acquaintances hailed Margaret Thatcher as a feminist icon, an uncompromising, strong leader. Subsequently, the sentiments echoed by many women at the time were that she was being heavily criticised for her actions because she was a woman. I disagree. Her gender has nothing to do it it. She was a cold, racist individualist driven by momentary greed at the expense of destroying so many people's lives. A feminist woman does not subscribe to androcentrism and self-interest, nor does a feminist create hateful policies that target and stigmatise the poor, and destroy the foundations that were built to protect them.
As a cabinet minister in the early seventies, Thatcher stopped primary children having free milk. It's not surprising that she was known as, 'Maggie, the milk snatcher'. But her attack on the poor and lone women was only the start to her egocentric vision of the UK. The changes in welfare policies targeted towards lone parents was the start of the demonisation of 'welfare lone parent mothers'.
I remember when she won the election in 1979; her speech was jingoistic and centred on the 'Middle Englander's' fears on immigration. She was a racist who created fear mongering towards immigrants. Her rhetoric on the (white) demoralised petite bourgeois aspiration's for a safer and better life set in motion restrictive immigration policies, targeting people with 'colour'. But this was the start of numerous aggressive acts...
Hell-bent on reinforcing her right wing agenda, Thatcher set out to privatise the welfare state, through the closure of numerous hospitals in the eighties. I recall a local hospital on the Harrow Rd, close to Westbourne Park, London which was knocked down and later rebuilt as a luxury housing development. Not content on destroying the welfare state, she privatised our public transport services into a commodity. Profit before people. Our buses and train fares soared under her premiership and Unions were eroded of their power.
But why should she stop there? She was also responsible for selling off council homes, for many people this enabled them to get on the property ladder and finally own their own home. Sounds good in theory? Not really; with the selling of England by the pound, came a price, abuse of power and more homeless people as the property market soared. As an activist, I recall the anger and frustration as she eroded everything that we valued: humanity, compassion and a sense of justice. And what did we do?
It took the contentious implementation of the poll tax to spark a riot into the public consciousness, an unfair taxation, which was based on the number of people living in a household. So if you lived in a leafy suburb with no dependents, you paid less tax than a family of four with elderly dependents. Unsurprisingly, this sparked off riots and caused the demise of the poll tax.
Bur her agenda of creating tensions between the police and local ethnic communities through intrusive stop and search laws further fuelled egomania. The Toxteth and Brixton riots, sparked off by dispossessed locals, spoke volumes about the sense of alienation and frustrations that poor people felt… Oh, and let's not forget her hateful depiction of the miners who fought for their jobs as she destroyed local mining communities in the North of England and placed so many people on the dole.
Not content with demolishing the British morale, Thatcher's ego required refuelling on a global scale; by supporting apartheid in South Africa, hailing Nelson Mandela as a 'terrorist', her involvement in the sinking of the Belgrano, her public support of Pinochet…. Dare I go on?
And now she's dead. The media claimed that thousands of angry protesters were going to march in Trafalgar Square to celebrate her death on Saturday 13th April. The government spent an exorbitant amount on security, wasted on several hundred protestors who simply wanted to make a point. But it doesn't end there, as her funeral (which costs the taxpayer £10m in security) looms upon us this Wednesday, even in death Thatcher will cost us…