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By Jane Watkinson
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Thatcher ‘tribute’: on what she did, believed, and her effect today…

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Margaret Thatcher rose to power in the context of a broken down Bretton Woods System, a system that formed after the Second World War in attempts to control the speculative financial flows and an unstable economic order that saw protectionist policies and the Great Depression occur in the inter-war period. With the US unable to withhold the convertibility of Gold and the dollar, however, the ‘Nixon shock’ (1971) saw the end of such guaranteed convertibility, alongside the fixed exchange rate coming to an end by 1973 with the rise of many floating currencies. With this renewed flexibility for the US that remained the reserve currency, able to run up ever-increasing unsustainable debts and deficits, this was accompanied by the rise of new social forces alongside an increasing attack on organised labour and welfare rights that had been won and granted after the Second World War. The rise of the right especially occurred in the UK, represented by Margaret Thatcher, and in the US with Ronald Reagan.

The 1986 Big Bang in London, one of Thatcher’s notable ‘achievements’, alongside the intensification and depth of Wall Street after the 1970s with the development of unstable dollar supply and the US’s special status as the reserve currency saw an expanding, inherently destructive finance sector. There was more and more financial shocks and increasingly bigger state bailouts of institutions that went wrong due to the risk and instability. In 1997, there was the Asian Crisis that the IMF and developed countries tried to blame upon the developing countries’ domestic policies, with the IMF imposing measures that made the crisis even worse in the long-term. However, with the recent financial crisis the developed countries have had to question their own economic ideologies more, with developing countries amassing a great amount of reserves to protect themselves against needing the IMF whilst supporting the US currency with the developing countries’ heavily reliant export model economy. How sustainable such an arrangement is, is up for debate.

It is important to stress this context and how the rise of right-wing Thatcherism and Reaganomics ideology and economic practices utilised such a context to intensify financial dominance, with profits being the thing people wanted, bonuses exploding and an individualistic logic Ayn Rand would have been proud of encouraged from the top down. People were told they were on their own. There was no such thing as a society. As unemployment ballooned, working class communities were shattered and called the ‘enemy within’, hospitals and schools were closed, VAT increased, social houses were sold through ‘right to buy’ so there was a massive shortage of council housing, alongside the Poll Tax, whilst Thatcher extended great support and friendship with a fascist dictator – Pinochet –  alongside terming Mandela as a ‘grubby little terrorist’ and supporting the apartheid regime. These were some of Thatcher’s notable ‘achievements’.

Relating to the objection to Glenda Jackson’s fantastic speech in parliament when the MPs were wrongly called back, which has only happened 14 times in the last 32 years, with over three thousand pounds travel expenses to use – you can’t complain that people refer to what Thatcher did and believed when they are giving demanded ‘tributes’. The whole point of a tribute is to reflect on what someone did in their life, what they believed and what they wanted in life. All what Glenda Jackson said reflected this, and was right but the Tories just don’t want to hear it. If when I die I have lots of right wingers outside my funeral protesting, I’d know I had done something right in my life!

People have every right to protest, celebrate and be glad that Thatcher is dead. When someone has such horrific, nasty damaging views and helps enact so much grief and travesty onto people around the world through such controversial and hateful determination I can’t see why anyone has any objection to people breathing a sigh of relief. Such relief, is nothing compared to everything she ‘achieved’. What should be happening in a decent society is a whole-hearted criticism of Thatcherism, what it meant and did and its effects upon society now and how we are going to move away from it. Rather, we live in a society where we have an even worse government than Thatcher’s, who hate anyone that aren’t rich upper class white able-bodied men. We have to question how we live in such a society, with so much resources, knowledge and wisdom. We need to use this time to help destroy Thatcherism and its legacy today, whilst giving respect to your ordinary person who is neglected, abused and misrepresented in the mainstream media and in political debates more and more.


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