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Will the Left ever be cured of its Maggiemania?


Once upon a time there was a Left-wing writer who decided it was time to reassess the achievements of Margaret Thatcher. Though still opposed to her politics, the socialist scribe nevertheless lauded Margaret’s inspirational ascent from modest upbringing to occupying the highest political office. In particular, the author celebrated how the grocer’s daughter became the first female prime minister solely by dint of her own talents and character, without special pleading or the aid of quotas. For this, the author hailed Margaret as an exemplar to all young women. And furthermore . . . nah, this is just not credible: the fable of a Leftist hack taking an objective view of Margaret Thatcher is one even Hans Christian Andersen would dismiss as ludicrously fanciful.

The ongoing vilification of Margaret Thatcher was brought to mind by Chris McGovern’s recent article on the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Chris noted that several reviewers had bristled at Lady Thatcher’s inclusion in the book; further investigation reveals that she almost didn’t make the cut. In the words of co-author Elena Favilli: ‘Thatcher is controversial and we thought about it a great deal. In the end, we decided we wanted to feature examples of women who had an impact on our history, both in good and bad terms.’

From which we can safely infer that ‘Thatcher’ – one can imagine the surname being spat out – was singularly ‘bad’, not least because she spectacularly succeeded whilst eschewing victim status and without seeking preferential treatment, thereby mocking the characteristics of today’s whiny feminism. Somehow, though, the Left deems it more praiseworthy for the more liberal Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama both to have achieved prominence as adjuncts to their husbands.

Four years after her death and almost three full decades since she was forced from office, the Left continues to demonise Margaret Thatcher beyond all reason. This ongoing psychosis meant that during 2017 her name continued to be invoked as responsible for myriad problems from the proliferation of food banks to the deaths at Grenfell Tower; why, it would be no surprise if Momentum links ‘Thatcher’ to England losing the Ashes. And the latest festive season would not have been complete without an Owen Jones boilerplate denunciation of ‘Thatcherite individualism’.

It was the Grenfell fire in particular which provided the pretext for a cynical outpouring of Leftist bile. Splenetic pieces along the lines of ‘Grenfell Tower: A Monument to Margaret Thatcher’ were in plentiful supply online. Not that it was necessary to scour obscure websites: in the wake of Grenfell, members of Her Majesty’s Opposition, still nursing their hatred, avidly sought to re-fight the battles of the 80s.

The unhinged Ken Livingstone, the man who ran London for eight years long after Margaret Thatcher ceded power, nevertheless blamed changes to building regulations made during the 1980s for allowing, decades later, lethal refurbishment work. In an extraordinary video, MP Chris Williamson responded to the fire by raging against the ‘violent ideology of neoliberalism’ and denouncing the ‘major influence on Margaret Thatcher’ of economist Friedrich Hayek. (The sinister Mr Williamson is shadow minister for the fire and emergency services and a Cabinet member-in-waiting. Lord have mercy.)

Elsewhere, in the spring of 2017 Nicola Sturgeon even exported to America her loathing of the woman who was PM throughout her formative years. During a short tour of the United States to promote herself and the SNP – for the Nats, party and country are indistinguishable – Scotland’s First Minister told a New York audience: ‘When I was growing up Margaret Thatcher was prime minister and the policies she was implementing were doing real damage to the kind of communities I was growing up in. But very, very few people in Scotland voted for Margaret Thatcher.’

Sturgeon is welcome to her prejudice but she is not entitled to rewrite history. Even at her most unpopular, the then Mrs T still received one in four of the votes cast in Scotland – around double the number supporting the SNP at each of the Thatcher victories. But then Nicola Sturgeon has previously claimed, when describing Margaret Thatcher as the ‘motivation for my entire political career’, that ‘no one I knew in my entire life had voted for her’. Had the young nationalist Nicola indeed hung around only with like-minded souls, that would have been a tiny social circle indeed.

America, courtesy of Nicola Sturgeon, was not the only distant country in which Margaret Thatcher was impugned during 2017. Investigation of the aforementioned book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls led to the discovery of Dr Meagan Tyler of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Dr Tyler is an academic – well, she specialises in ‘gender inequality and feminist theory’, so feel free to apply your own label – who helped crowd-fund the book by pledging for six copies. Writing in November 2017, Tyler related how, upon receiving the order, she was ‘horrified to find the words “Margaret Thatcher” staring back at me. So horrified, in fact, that after ranting on Twitter I called an emergency meeting of sympathetic colleagues to figure out what to do.’

Give these professional feminists their due: however much the earnest shibboleths might grate, their gift for amusing with unintentional self-parody is priceless. After much solemn debate and self-examination, Tyler decided to improve the content by re-writing several of the stories and pasting them into the books over the original texts. Naturally, this included a revision to the story of Margaret Thatcher, which the good doctor judged to be insufficiently censorious.

Thanks are due, therefore, to Dr Meagan Tyler for her tale of how, after seizing power, Margaret Thatcher wickedly destroyed what seemingly was the nirvana in 1970s Britain of a buoyant economy, driven by thriving and efficient nationalised industries, in which contented workers gave thanks to their benevolent trade union leaders. Now that really is a fairy story.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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