Posts Tagged 'margaret thatcher'

Maggie just who were you and what did you do?

Ding-Dong! The Wicked Old Witch is Dead!

The sentiment which erupted with the death of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher has been stunning.  Stunning to Americans at least; part of the express of emotion is cultural.  I cannot remember when the death of major American political figure that was met with glee, dancing on the grave or parties in the street as has happened with Thatcher; the phenomenon, or so I have read, is not so uncommon in England.   However, ignoring the culture differences, the degree of animosity from her opponents-in-life upon her death is still surprising – she has been out of office 23 years.  I would have thought the raw nerves would have healed by now, but not so.  There have been parties to celebrate her death, demonstrations of joy and even riots – and all before she was even been buried.  In the eyes of her enemies Thatcher was evil.  The song “Ding-Dong! The witch is dead”, from the 1939 movie, the Wizard of Oz has become a number one song in England pushed by anti-Thatcher sentiments.  Even the BBC is going to play a bit – 15 seconds – of it during its coverage of Mrs. Thatcher’s life.  However, the Iron Lady has her supporters as well and they are equally vocal, although without being as demonstrative.  Was Marget Thatcher the savior of dying British economy and the rescuer of the Britain’s image internationally or was she cold, cruel and indifferent to human suffering and the most polarizing leader in recent English history?

Even here, thousands and thousands of miles away from Merry Old England, it is possible to feel the intensity of opinions on Mrs. Thatcher.  I have two friends who are as are just like the people whose opinions you can read in the British press, both had some personal contact and associated with her to some degree.   One of those friends sees Margaret Thatcher as a bit strange, but a true leader – a good friend to the United States and a powerful force in international politics; the other sees Margaret Thatcher as a corrupter of English social values and harmful to Britain’s reputation and the lives of the average Englishman.  Who is right?  I have no idea.  But to me it seems she Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were alike and I never heard anyone say Ronald Regan was evil.

There is some indication that today’s polarized political landscape in the United States and Great Britain did begin with them.  However,  their economic policies have been continued by administrations of both stripes ever since; both Bill Clinton and Tony Blaire stayed on the path the Regan and Thatcher set.  Social policy has not been as consistent, but it too reflects the influence of Ronnie and Maggie.  Now, both may lead us to a time of crisis both politically and economically unlike any that either country has experienced before – or not.  Certainly, the polarization in particular is creating an environment that makes compromise or at times any legislative progress nearly impossible.   One way or another we are going to have to find our way out of that quagmire or it will lead to a social crisis to match the legislative one; no democracy can survive without compromise.  At a bare minimum governments need to be able to produce budgets and sustain a basic level of governmental service.

Not being English this has been a confusing week for me.  Ronald Regan was her partner in all things, they thought and acted very much alike and yet he went to his grave respected even by his opponents.  Regan wasn’t and isn’t honored by  everyone, but I think he is respected for his leadership, if not his policies.  While she is going to her grave vilified, hated and scorned.  I don’t know who Margaret Thatcher was, wicked old witch or economic savior; she might have been a bit of both.   Could she have been evil?  Except for a Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin, I can’t think of any other modern, western leaders we might call evil.  Have you ever witnessed anything quite like what is taking place in Great Britain over Margaret Thatcher?  This gives polarization a completely new meaning for me.

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