MARGARET Thatcher’s death this week has been marked by the usual platitudes that bourgeois politicians reserve for those who have well served the British ruling class. Tory leaders, together with all the other mainstream parliamentary parties, have swamped the media with their crocodile tears at the death of the first woman prime minister in British history who passed away in London’s Ritz Hotel at the ripe old age of 87.
You could easily be mistaken into thinking that a saint had died if you just read the gushing of the Tory press and the preparations for her ceremonial send off at St Paul’s cathedral next week, which is expected to cost over £8 million. But others have shown their contempt and derision in a barrage of hostile comments in the social media, while workers whose lives were blighted during the Thatcher era held impromptu street parties and demonstrations to celebrate the passing of one of the most hated British politicians to have led the country since the Second World War.
Maverick Tory MP Enoch Powell famously said: “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”. It was certainly true of Powell himself, who played the race card in his own failed bid for power. It’s equally true of Thatcher, Major and Blair as well as every British prime minister we’ve had over the past 100 years or so.
Mrs Thatcher led the country from 1979 to 1990 and won three elections in a row. She spearheaded the bourgeois offensive against the unions, the National Health Service and the welfare state.
Margaret Thatcher posed as an equal partner of American imperialism around the world and claimed to be a Eurosceptic. Neither was true. The “special relationship” with US imperialism was an illusion and her government eventually signed up to virtually every demand of Franco-German imperialism, including the destruction of the mining industry and much of British manufacturing, to remain in what is now the European Union.
Her paltry victory over the Argentineans in the Falklands/ Malvinas war was hailed in the bourgeois media as a great feat of arms. But her acolytes say nothing about the resistance of the IRA or the Thatcher government’s brutal and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to crush the Irish national liberation movement in the occupied north of Ireland. Finally when Thatcher’s popularity slipped over the hated poll tax, she was no longer of any further use to the ruling class and she ignominiously dumped by her own Conservative Party.
Thatcher may well be an icon to the ruling class. But so are all the others, Labour and Tory, who followed in her footsteps when they went to Downing Street. The great reforms of the post-war Labour Government were indeed partly due to the overwhelming demand from working people for a better life.
But they were also the product of a bourgeois consensus on the need to boost production by pumping state money into ailing industries, while buying off and diverting working people down the dead-end of social democratic reform to head off the communist movement that had massively grown throughout Europe during the struggle to defeat the Nazis. This tactic was followed by the bourgeoisie throughout Western Europe during the Cold War.
By the 1970s the bourgeoisie as a whole, in Britain and in Europe, were no longer prepared to pay their share in maintaining the “welfare state” and that consensus ended. Thatcher simply represented the class the Tories serve and she did nothing that would not have been done by any other Tory leader at the time.
In her dotage Thatcher said that she would probably only be remembered for the construction of the Channel Tunnel. In fact the late Tory leader will be recalled simply as the politician who led the ruling class offensive against the unions and working people in the 1980s that continues to this day.