Frontline Friday round-up 12th April 2013

Chris Sherwood /   June 29, 2015 at 8:34 PM 1,238 views

Here’s our round-up of frontline blogs we’ve particularly liked from the week of 8th April 2013. Let us know which posts we’ve missed and which other bloggers we should be following for next week’s round-up. This week the frontline blogosphere has inevitably been talking about the death of Baroness Thatcher, which inspired a range of emotion and comment ranging from hostility through to admiration. Paul Bernal was 14 when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 and argued that she had a significant impact on his youth, which has lasted into adulthood. He was unsure about how to react to her death: “When I heard about her death I didn’t really know what to say or to think. Mostly I felt numb – and lots of memories came flooding back. Lots of feelings, lots of emotions. Not exactly anger, just a kind of empty sadness. It’s hard even to write about it now. It’s not sadness about me, or about her, but more about humanity in general – because what I learned as one of ‘Thatcher’s children’ more than anything else was that all too often, the ‘bad guys’ win.” Paul argued that the lesson he draws from Thatcherism is that: “No matter how badly they hit you, no matter how much of a minority you feel, no matter how much you feel that you’re losing, never give up. I have to remind myself of that now, as the same thing seems to be happening again in so many ways. The echoes of the 80s are all too clear, and not just in the Conservative Party. That’s the saddest thing – but the thing that makes me clearer than ever that I’m not going to give up. Even if everyone else thinks I’m wrong, I’m still going to fight for what I think is right.” Somewhat similarly, Aethelread the Unread offered up the following reflection: “I can’t pretend to be saddened by the news. I’m sorry if that bluntness upsets anyone, but I’m pretty sure Baroness Thatcher herself would not have wanted people who didn’t like her politics to pretend they did. She was a creature of conviction and confrontation, and I suspect she would prefer people to be honest, even on the day of her death.” Aethelread argued that the “…economic medicine she (Thatcher) gave the country didn’t work and we’re still facing the same underlying problems…” we faced when she came to power: “When she came to power in 1979 we were a struggling post-industrial country (with a number of zombie industrial enterprises being kept un-dead by national ownership). In 2013 we’re a struggling post-industrial country with a massive consumer debt hangover because we thought we could spend our way out of trouble even though we weren’t earning enough to do so.” The Jobbing Doctor likened Margaret Thatcher to Marmite – you either loved or hated her and offered up a personal perspective on why he won’t be mourning the death of our former Prime Minister: “I started as a young GP more than 30 years ago, just as her policies were taking hold. I saw a catastrophic destruction of the manufacturing base in my locality with the forced shutdown of the local steelworks and over 3500 direct redundancies and many other indirect ones. I saw how that affected my patients and their families, and it permeated every part of the community… The area never recovered. The heart was ripped out of it, and there has been constant unemployment, drug-taking, poverty and petty crime ever since.” Scriptonite provided an alternative eulogy to Margaret Thatcher, arguing that although she is dead her spirit is alive and kicking: “Champagne corks might well be popping in Trafalgar Square, but we must remember that while the woman has died (nothing to gloat over in and of itself), her damaging world view has seized the body politic and continues to choke it of all compassion.” Scriptonite went on to offer a critique of a range of Thatcherite policies from Section 28, the council house sell off, unemployment, privatisation, the Big Bang and tax reform, through to undermining workers rights. She argued that the “bitterest legacy of Thatcher has been the neoliberal consensus” which has continued to dominate the mainstream of UK politics: “Thatcher’s announcement that ‘there is no such thing as society’ was perhaps the death of a cooperative culture in the UK. We are a crueller, less equal society for it. In the UK today, the richest 10% are 100 times richer than the poorest 10%. The gap between richest and poorest is double that of our European neighbours. For these reasons, whilst many of us are far too decent to gloat the death of the woman, we reserve the right to refuse mourning her as a national hero and work towards the day when we can burst champagne corks at the demise of her brutal legacy.” Scriptonite wasn’t alone in raising concerns about elements of Thatcherism. The results of a survey published in the Guardian this week showed that opinions of Margaret Thatcher remain deeply divided. Selling off council homes remains popular among voters but policies such as privatisation, cutting top tax rates for the rich and the poll tax remain deeply unpopular. Parliament was recalled on Wednesday of this week to allow parliamentarians the opportunity to express their thoughts on the passing of Margaret Thatcher. Jon Rogers writing on Jon’s Union Blog cited the speeches from Glenda Jackson MP and Dave Anderson MP for praise, arguing that they ‘spoke truth to power’ and cast a light on the impact of Thatcherism on ordinary communities such as mining villages in the North East. Adam Tugwell argued that Thatcher was an agent for change who was successful in giving us freedom in the form of choice: Some of us do of course say that perception is everything and perhaps the most regrettable thing of note about the passing of one of our greatest Prime Ministers is the misinterpretation or indeed misunderstanding of an age of Government Policies which opened many doors, but also gave each and every one of us the choice of how to respond and to take responsibility with the opportunities that we had been given.” He also pointed that many of the complaints about Thatcherism are misdirected, arguing that Thatcher is ‘unlikely to have ever driven policy on the basis of the pain that it would have caused anyone on a personal level’: “…Baroness Thatcher didn’t sell the Council Houses that first time property owners had bought for a profit; She didn’t make the choice for Bankers and City Traders to begin making profits out of little more than thin air, and she certainly didn’t force day-to-day people who bought shares in Utility and Power Companies when they were first privatised to sell their Shares on to profiteering Pension Fund Managers.” The Thinking Policeman supplied a more positive reflection on the life of Margaret Thatcher. He commented on her death “as she did with everything, she did it in style, taking her last breath whilst staying at The Ritz”. He concluded: “Love her or hate her she was one hell of a leader and admired and feared throughout the world. Unlike many of her successors her integrity was unblemished and without question. We will be lucky to see the like of her again.” We’re always interested in hearing from frontline bloggers, so if you’re interested in having your post featured on Guerilla Policy then do get in touch: [email protected]

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