It is very difficult to keep comments about anything related to Margaret Thatcher apolitical but I’m going to have a go. I don’t want to start a debate on what she did to this country as there are plenty of commentators out there doing so at the moment. I would just like to make some observations, not on what she did, but purely on the reaction to her death.
I fully accept that some extremely unpopular things happened during the ‘Thatcher Years’ but the last time I looked this country was a democracy not an autocracy. To get any law passed in the UK you have to secure the support of at least 324 members of parliament: 324 members who were all duly elected by UK voters. It was also necessary then to get the approval of the majority of the House of Lords too (I say ‘then’ because I know this has been modified in recent years).
Additionally we should not forget that the British electorate sent Margaret Thatcher to Downing Street not as a ‘one off’ but three times in 1979, 1983 and in 1987. Surely then there are millions of voters and at least 324 members of parliament who are also in some way culpable for the unpopular laws passed during that time?
Another observation I’d make is the opportunity that the Internet and more specifically social media sites have opened up for people to post acidic, poisonous, and, quite frankly, disgusting comments about someone they have never met and claim to ‘hate’. Even if you disliked everything that Mrs Thatcher (and her government) did, do you really hate her? Can you really be celebrating her death? Is it right to celebrate anyone’s death whatever they’ve done?
When I last looked, one of the things that was trending on Twitter was the suggestion that a party should be held to celebrate Mrs Thatcher’s death. Another looking for two minutes of cheering before the United v City football match this evening.
One of the more interesting things that emerges from a straw poll of those posting derogatory comments on Twitter is that, judging by their public profiles and chosen photos, many of them are highly unlikely to have been politicly aware during Margaret Thatcher’s time in power. How can they possibly have grown up ‘hating’ someone who resigned her post when they were at nursery or at most primary school?
It isn’t just social media sites. The Daily Telegraph chose to close down the comments section of it’s on-line story about the ex-Prime minster’s death “out of respect”. I read that to mean that the newspaper was uncomfortable with the abuse some people were posting under the article. I might be wrong.
The 1979 General Election was my first chance to vote. Therefore I was politicly aware during the ‘Thatcher Years’ and many of the things her government did directly and adversely affected me, my relatives, colleagues and friends. I obviously didn’t like those things and don’t know anyone who like everything they did but I certainly don’t hold Mrs Thatcher wholly responsible. I am sad she has died in the same way that I am sad when any human being dies. I won’t miss her either because I never met her. However I am deeply uncomfortable that anyone should celebrate the death of another human being.