Goddammit, I had a plan. It was simple; write a puff piece about going on holiday to Britain, crack some wise ass jokes about sleeping on couches and drinking shit beer and be finished by 19.00. Then an old woman died and all hell appears to have broken loose. After 86 years, 23 since leaving power, Margaret Thatcher is dead. Cue media frenzy. What astonished me was how quickly editorials, comments pages and various articles began to appear all over the British news sites, almost as if some one had given them all a heads up…little morbid but I guess that’s the world of 24 hour news.
Despite this, much of what has been written about Thatcher today seems to concern her legacy. To be honest I can’t particularly comment on her time in power as I was too young to comprehend it. Yet having been brought up in a Northern, labour voting family I know that she occupied a similar position, in my formative years, to that of the monster under the bed. The only big difference was that one had evil glowing eyes and vicious snarl and the other was a figment of my imagination. Ok, that is obviously a bad joke but it perfectly encapsulates the biggest problem of assessing what she will be remembered for. For some she was a political powerhouse on par with Churchill, for others she was simply evil personified.
It is here that we have the biggest problem, with so much strength of feeling on both sides it is surely impossible to have a balanced view of her eleven years in power. I won’t even attempt to break through either camp, I know where I stand on her time in power but you don’t really need to know that. What I found interesting though was the German viewpoint, which appears to be a bizarre concoction of sympathy, sadness and admiration. Those I spoke to mentioned that she was well respected, and that politicians have to make tough decisions sometimes and they can’t always be popular. They were mightily surprised when I showed them my Facebook feed.
The majority of my friends appear to be of a similar point of view, to put it simply ‘Ding, dong the witch is dead’. Some have even begun to organise parties. With so much comment via news sites, through twitter and Facebook I could only imagine that Thatcher was elected via some amazing fluke. Surely if everyone who claimed to have hated her really did she would never have been elected. What also shocked me was the level of feeling from people younger than myself, who quite possibly had less interaction with her reign than I did. What I wonder is how much of this invective is motivated by a general understanding of events and how much by hand-me-down hatred. In the end I’m certainly a little of column A and a little of column B. However, I’m far from rejoicing the demise of an 87 year old woman. I would rather show more class and compassion than she appears to have managed during Britain’s lost decade.