Socialist Worker

Reactions reveal deep class divide that still exists today

by Eamonn McCann
Issue No. 2348

People celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death in Brixton, south London

People celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death in Brixton, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Thatcher had been undead for so long my first reaction to the news that she’d snuffed it was, “Are they sure?” 

Apparently her wits had been so scattered she didn’t realise herself she was almost alive.

There are few contexts in which it is permissible to jeer at the debilitating effects of great age but this is one of them. 

A couple of days before she died, I was at a meeting of the families of residents of Slievemore House in Derry. It’s a facility for people suffering from dementia and they were in near despair at its imminent closure. 

They faced the prospect of their parents or siblings being consigned to “care in the community”—dumped on families already at the end of their tether.

They felt driven to the edge of their ability to cope by job losses, cuts, the bedroom tax and the shredding of the services millions depend on.

We cannot say that this is all Thatcher’s fault. But it is the way she worked to ensure things would be.

It has widely been said in the past couple of days that response to her death has reflected her divisiveness back in the 1980s. 

But what she did was to give strident expression to the existing class divide with a view to widening it further.

Reaction to her death has reflected the division between the rich and the rest of us. 

The panegyrics on the one hand and street parties on the other sketched the map of contemporary not historical capitalist society.

There’s nothing nostalgic about the way Thatcher is still hated by our class while posh boys and the financial parasites continue to harbour a soft spot for her hard heart.

Those who gathered in celebration in Liverpool, Glasgow, Brixton, at Free Derry Corner etc. on Monday night weren’t looking back, but looking around them.

Anyone who has felt even slightly queasy at the glee which greeted the death of an old woman can feel reassured.

It’s ok to speak ill of the dead when it’s a dead Thatcher. 

I gather she gibbered her last in a suite at the Ritz. I hope they have called in the fire brigade to hose down the walls.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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Tue 9 Apr 2013, 19:00 BST
Issue No. 2348
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