April 9, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
The United Kingdom’s former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, passed away from a stroke on Monday. She was 87 and had been in declining health for many years.
Thatcher had been a very powerful and transformative Prime Minister, who, like her American counterpart Ronald Reagan, was successful in pushing her nation’s political agenda far to the right of where it had previously been, And just like Reagan, she was not bashful about using her country’s military, having engaged it in a brief but successful war against the weaker nation of Argentina in an effort to retain her Falkland Islands territory after Argentina had attacked and occupied it. Also like Reagan, she was a fierce anti-communist and wielded her political might against the country’s labor unions. She became known as a cold-hearted reactionary hell-bent on crippling the labor movement there. She almost single-handedly pushed Britain’s once proud and decidedly leftist, pro-worker Labour Party into the much weaker, less effective, milquetoast bunch of sops it became under Tony Blair. In short, she made it abandon many of its pro-worker positions, scaled back the power of labor unions to strike, and also scaled back the influence the British government had over its people’s lives. In the process, she made the lives of the poor much more difficult. Perhaps that is why American reactionaries like John Boehner and Eric Cantor – to name but two – were so quick to praise her after her passing: they revile poor and working class people and never had much time for them anyway. It undoubtedly won’t be long before they and others on the far-right like Paul Ryan will engage in an attempt to portray her as a noble and heroic figure, just as they did Reagan through ridiculously inaccurate revisionist history. In truth, Margaret Thatcher was a much more polarizing figure than Reagan ever was. Even today among UK residents, there is no middle ground regarding the mention of Thatcher’s name – she is either loved and praised, or hated and scorned, depending upon whom you may ask.
I wasn’t blogging at the time Ronald Reagan passed away. Had I been, I would have responded with much the same attitude as I now do for Margaret Thatcher: good riddance! In both of their cases, the harm they did to their respective country’s labor movements far outweighs the small amounts of good either may have done in other areas. For both chose privatization (which benefits and enriches the pitifully small few) over government programs (whose benefits can be shared by the many), and both chose to ally themselves with the wealthy, privileged, and powerful rather than with the poor, underprivileged, and weak. It is interesting (revealing?) to note that both of these leaders suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease in their final years. Progressives will note that they both lost their minds years beforehand, however. Good riddance to them both!