Protempore – Issue 94


Posted by in May's Magazine

I’m pretty sure that most of you who search out this esteemed organ will have guessed well in advance that the focus of the column in this issue would be the (not so recent) death of Margaret Thatcher. Well, who am I to disappoint? First of all, I should perhaps preface the tirade by setting out my qualifications and absolute right to comment on the demise of one of the most poisonous, hateful human beings ever to inhabit the earth. Put simply, I was there.

And before anyone dares to turn the page as they think it’s all going to be about the miners’ strike, let me assure you, it’s not. There is so much more to talk about when discussing the life and crimes of Thatcher. But as I was 22 years old at the time of the strike in 1984 and stood on picket lines along with fellow trade union members from all over the movement, I hope you’ll bear with me.

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Prior to announcing the closure of 20 mines and putting over 20,000 people on the dole at a stroke, the Thatcher government stockpiled coal and converted some power stations to run on heavy fuel oil in order to prevent a repeat of the 1974 strike which saw blackouts across the country and forced the then government’s hand. Clever move, I hear some of you say. Perhaps, but then maybe you didn’t know that forcing people to strike for their livelihoods meant that thousands of families who couldn’t afford to heat their homes had to rely on scavenging for coal on what were known as “spoil tips” which contained waste material from excavations but could be used to provide a small source of heat. Spoil tips were notoriously dangerous as they were prone to slippage and in the winter of 1984, three teenagers died when the tip they were on collapsed. Funnily enough, in all of the cloying eulogies from Thatcher’s acolytes, this is not mentioned.

Another monster
Neither is her relationship with General Pinochet. Remember him? That’s right, the Chilean military dictator whose government clamped down on trade unions; privatised hundreds of state-controlled industries; murdered thousands of its political opponents (many of whom were thrown out of planes while still alive); interned 80,000 citizens who were deemed to be anti-government; and tortured more than 50,000 citizens, including women and children. When he was under house arrest in London following an attempt by the Spanish Government to extradite him in connection with numerous human rights violations including the murder of 12 nuns, Thatcher visited him and stated that she was a great friend and was ‘grateful to him for bringing democracy to Chile’.

Or General Suharto. Remember him? That’s right, the former president of Indonesia, another one of Thatcher’s closest friends. Another monster with absolutely no regards whatsoever for human rights. But Thatcher and her cabinet of moral cowards saw nothing wrong in colluding with another tin-pot dictator in order to secure multi-million pound arms deals. In the year after President Suharto took control of the country, between 500,000 and one million alleged members of the Indonesian Communist party were killed; 500,000 of his political opponents were arrested, only one thousand of whom were ever brought to trial. Between 1989 and 1993, two thousand civilians in Aceh, including children and the elderly were unlawfully killed. The ethnic-Chinese were targeted and his soldiers raped an unknown number of ethnic-Chinese women. In the midst of all this, Thatcher visited the genocidal maniac and told the assembled press: “Trade brings us together and identifies our interests, and I am sure that trade between Indonesia and Britain will increase as a result of the very friendly and warm atmosphere created by my visit here. We are clearly the best of friends and there is no sounder basis on which to construct future collaboration.”

Dangerous legacy
Putting aside the unnecessary deaths of freezing teenagers and human rights, which Thatcher did without blinking, the most sickening and dangerous legacy left after her demise is the present Tory government. David Cameron, George Osborne, William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith, Jeremy Hunt, Eric Pickles, Oliver Letwin, Theresa May, Michael Gove, Francis Maude and the rest, are all Thatcher’s children and are intent on carrying out policies which were fostered in the belly of the beast, the only difference being that they are far more rabid and poisonous than Thatcher ever was. Which, given the very small list above of the abhorrent tragedies that she colluded in, is terrifying.

Am I glad she’s dead? Of course I am, but given her slithering progeny, I make no apology whatsoever for saying that I wish she’d never been born at all.

Protempore

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