18/04/2013

Why You're Wrong About Thatcher

Good news. I agree with you about the late Margaret Thatcher. I don't even need to know what you think before I can say I agree with you. And this is not just some swift placation to get you to stop talking, although that technique has proven invaluable this week.

I know I agree with you because, whatever you think, you think the people who disagree with you are wrong. And I agree. Confused? Let me take a few steps back.

I was unsure about dealing with this topic on what can be a rather light-hearted website. But this isn't my first opinion piece, I dealt with gun control, and my input clearly solved that problem.

It's important to notice that this isn't going to be jokes about a funeral. That would be of poor taste, and to paraphrase John Donne, "Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind." I think that means I tend to play gigs to alive people, and I'm just thinking about the market.

But it's important to remember that, just because you don't want to celebrate someone's death, it doesn't mean you think the life was good.

Since we heard of her passing the news has described her as divisive. No, she was polarising. The people who hate her think she was total evil, the people who like her think she's the best thing to ever happen to Great Britain. Both must be wrong. No one is pure evil, whether ultimately proved right or not, she thought what she was doing was good for the country, and indeed for some parts of it, it was. And she's not the best thing to happen. She didn't create the NHS or create an empire, if that's your thing, so people who think that are wrong too.

She, like everyone, existed somewhere on the spectrum between their worst and best versions. But no one seems to see that. No one listens with open minds to the opposite view point. I come from an area that used to have a thriving coal mining community and saw first-hand the consequences of her actions. But I realise the coal industry may not have been viable. However, when Germany reduced the size of its coal industry it did it without ruining large sections of the nation and causing local unemployment to be a problem that lasted for decades.

On the day of her death I was broadcast in Essex, and area that loves her. One caller decided to speak to me and said, "The thing is, in the 70s the country was in a right state. Something had to be done!"

Yes. But don't miss your own logical flaw. Just because something had to be done doesn't mean that what was done was the right thing. Or you could also have the sentence, "The thing is, in the 30s Germany was in a right state. Something had to be done!" Something was done, but I think we have to agree it wasn't the right thing.

On privatisation, do I think that letting private businesses into the telecoms market, freeing up the restrictions of the use of certain technologies, that ultimately led us to the modern word of mobile phones, was a good thing? Yes. Do I think privatising the utilities so that a company may make profit out of an old person struggling to afford enough heat to stay alive was good? Sweet mercy no! It's not either or, it's not zeroes and ones, it's shades of grey. (Well, that book ruined that phrase for me.)

Do I think that market forces can run some industries? Yes. Do I think letting the market run free is perfectly fine? I'm living in the aftermath of the credit crunch, we are so over 'greed is good'.

If the pro-Thatcher camp weren't so blindly pro and the anti-Thatcher camp weren't so blindly anti we might actually be able to have a discussion about real issues that face us?

The funeral itself has heightening that problem. Is it right to celebrate someone's death with an effigy of them? I don't think so. Is it right to spend tax payers money on something when you know half the country doesn't think she was great? No. It'll only serve to deepen the division.

Even if you think she was the best Prime Minister Great Britain ever had, that was her job. She did her job. Most people don't get a celebratory send off for doing their job. In fact most Prime Ministers don't get a celebratory send off just for doing their job. Churchill was an understandable exception. His role in the Second World War and getting this country through it could be seen as exceptional. But there's a very big difference between the worthiness of the funeral of Churchill and Thatcher, there wasn't half the country that hated what Churchill did. There were large communities in the North saying, "Actually, the Germans were OK."

So there we have it. Strip out the emotion, talk about the logic, and we could finally get somewhere. But not only do I think that won't happen, I expect I'll get comments saying I shouldn't defend her while at the same time I'll get comments saying I shouldn't express a negative opinion. Rest safe in the knowledge that all comments that come from a blinded view of the left or the right will be deleted. This is my website, not a free market.

Look at it this way, whoever disagrees with you, I disagree with them too.

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