A few days ago I posted a blog about the death of Lady Thatcher and the abuse against her after her death. Forgive me if I sounded like a finger-wagging idealist who was all well-meaning but didn’t have the faintest clue what life was actually like for people who unemployed because of the closure of mines. I’m sure there are many heartbreaking stories of the effects of deindustrialisation – which Thatcher allowed to continue through the 1980s by stopping subsidising the mines, while doing very little to cushion the effects it had on the communities – and I can understand why there are very strong feelings about her premiership. And despite what I said about death being a universal experience, Margaret Thatcher was deliberately divisive, and David Winnick, a Labour MP since 1979, is right to say that it would be hypocritical for people who opposed her strongly at the time to keep their mouths shut and pretend not to feel the same way now. I wouldn’t mind betting Lady Thatcher would agree with him too.
There will always be idiots in the world and I suppose the “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” phenomenon, the abuse and the celebrations of her death are proof of that. But I won’t lump all of her critics in the same group as those people. Also, although I think she had admirable qualities and was certainly the most successful prime minister of the last thirty years, her admirers need to remember that she had flaws and she made mistakes. Peter Hitchens puts it well: “I advise both her enemies and her worshippers to remember that she was human – deserving in the hour of her death to be decently respected, but to be neither despised nor idolised. May she rest in peace.”