Margaret Thatcher's legacy: roundup of the best writing | Politics | promovare-site.info
No one except Margaret Thatcher would have risked sending the British fleet 8, miles into the South Atlantic to recapture the Falklands in. Thatcher was a fierce Cold Warrior, and when it came to Chile never Thereafter , the relationship became downright cozy, so much so that the. For the past 40 years Chile has in many ways been a most unlikely case. 2 .. led to credibility problems of the regime and drove a wedge between factions friendly relations with Margaret Thatcher and political right in the UK, but Chile was.
She never made any secret of the fact that the two were connected. She felt that Britain had a debt of honour which she, at least, would repay, whatever the cost. Mrs Thatcher had no direct personal dealings with Pinochet while she was in Downing Street, despite the cooperation detailed below. She first met him while on a speaking tour in March at a reception in Santiago in the British Embassy. They subsequently had no contact until, as a result of a chance meeting, he was invited with a friend to tea at her home on October 5, The discussion was friendly but not very substantial, partly because he spoke no English and partly because he was already in acute pain from his back — he later ill-advisedly decided on an operation in a London clinic.
One cannot, after all, be held responsible for the past life of everyone with whom one shares a cup of tea. But she felt an overwhelming moral debt, because of the Falklands. Precisely what Chile had done was shrouded in secrecy. But Mrs Thatcher's own recollections were confirmed in detail by a memorandum of March 25, written for her use by General Fernando Matthei Aubel, the head of the Chilean air force in It has never been published. Matthei reveals how, shortly after the Argentinian invasion, the Chilean air force was approached for help by London and a special envoy despatched for direct negotiations.
Matthei reported immediately to Pinochet, who agreed to collaborate, but in complete secrecy — diplomatic channels and indeed the Foreign Ministries of both countries were bypassed. Pinochet's other condition was that there must be no attacks launched from Chilean territory. This rule was inadvertently breached when a British helicopter force-landed in Punta Arenas: Pinochet had the rescued airmen flown back to Britain anonymously.
There was every reason for caution. Chile was in the midst of a deep recession, and Pinochet at the nadir of his popularity.
Argentina's forces were also much stronger than those of Chile. If Argentina had won in the Falklands, Chile would, with or without the secrecy, almost certainly have been attacked.
And Chile had no local allies. The Chileans allowed disassembled aircraft to be shipped in for British use. But by far the most important assistance was intelligence. A long-range military radar was installed opposite Argentina's Comodoro Rivadavia air base. It is odd to reflect that in Thatcher's time, the British novel enjoyed a comparatively lively resurgence.
Governments can rarely claim to have stimulated the arts but Thatcher, always rather impatient with the examined life, drew writers on to new ground. The novel may thrive in adversity and it was a general sense of dismay at the new world she was showing us that lured many writers into opposition. The stance was often in broadest terms, more moral than political. Her effect was to force a deeper consideration of priorities, sometimes expressed in a variety of dystopias.
At an international conference in Lisbon in the late 80s, the British faction, among whom were Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, Malcolm Bradbury and myself, referred back to Thatcher constantly in our presentations. Asked to report on the "state of things" in our country, we could barely see past her. Eventually, the Italian contingent, largely existential or postmodern, rose up against us.
We had an all-out blistering row that delighted the organisers. Literature had nothing to do with politics, the Italian writers said. Take the larger view. They had a point, but they had no idea how fascinating she was — so powerful, successful, popular, omniscient, irritating and, in our view, wrong.
Perhaps we suspected that reality had created a character beyond our creative reach. Not all writers were against her. Philip Larkin visited Downing Street where the prime minister quoted approvingly one of his lines to him — "Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives. She may have got it slightly wrong.
Quotation being the warmest form of praise, Larkin was naturally touched. We might speculate that an adviser had offered Thatcher a selection of good lines, or that she had asked to see some.
But the choice captures her perfectly. For a start, she had a superb memory for a brief, and she would have had no problem memorising quickly any number of lines. Larkin's evoked the treacherous mind of an adversary, of a cabinet colleague helplessly exposed to her steely regard. One turns with gratitude to Alan Clark's diaries for a fine description of being summoned to No 10 and being subjected to just such an examination.
When the late Christopher Hitchens was a political reporter for the New Statesman, he corrected the prime minister on a point of fact, and she was quick to correct Hitchens in turn.
She was right, he was wrong. In front of his journalist colleagues he was told to stand right in front of her so that she could hit him lightly with her order papers. Over the years, and through much re-telling, the story had it that Thatcher told Hitchens to bend over, and that she spanked him with her order papers. The truth is less significant than the alteration to it. There was always an element of the erotic in the national obsession with her.
From the invention of the term "sado-monetarism" through to the way her powerful ministers seemed to swoon before her, and the constant negative reiteration by her critics of her femininity, or lack of it, she exerted a glacial hold over the male nation's masochistic imagination.
This was heightened by the suspicion that this power was not consciously deployed. Meryl Streep's depiction of a shuffling figure, stricken and isolated by the death of her husband, Denis, may have softened memories, or formed them in the minds of a younger generation. The virtual state funeral will rehearse again our extravagant fixations.
Opponents and supporters of Margaret Thatcher will never agree about the value of her legacy, but as for her importance, her hypnotic hold on us, they are bound to find common ground. Russell Brand "If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't" One Sunday recently while staying in London, I took a stroll in the gardens of Temple, the insular clod of quads and offices between the Strand and the Embankment.
It's kind of a luxury rent-controlled ghetto for lawyers and barristers, and there is a beautiful tailors, a fine chapel, established by the Knights Templar from which the compound takes its namea twee cottage designed by Sir Christopher Wren and a rose garden; which I never promised you.
My mate John and I were wandering there together, he expertly proselytising on the architecture and the history of the place, me pretending to be Rumpole of the Bailey quietly in my mindwhen we spied in the distant garden a hunched and frail figure, in a raincoat, scarf about her head, watering the roses under the breezy supervision of a masticating copper.
In this moment she inspired only curiosity, a pale phantom, dumbly filling her day. None present eyed her meanly or spoke with vitriol and it wasn't until an hour later that I dreamt up an Ealing comedy-style caper in which two inept crooks kidnap Thatcher from the garden but are unable to cope with the demands of dealing with her, and finally give her back.
This reverie only occurred when the car was out of view. In her diminished presence I stared like an amateur astronomer unable to describe my awe at this distant phenomenon. When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country.
Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring — I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children.
How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning? I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad.
I don't know if they ever voted for her, I don't know if they liked her. My dad, I suspect, did. He had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility — but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant. As I scan the statements of my memory bank for early deposits it'd be a kid's memory bank account at a neurological NatWest where you're encouraged to become a greedy little capitalist with an escalating family of porcelain pigsI see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA.
And the single mums. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually. Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off.
I didn't know what to think of this fearsome woman. Perhaps my early apathy and indifference are a result of what Thatcher deliberately engendered, the idea that "there is no such thing as society", that we are alone on our journey through life, solitary atoms of consciousness.
Or perhaps it was just because I was a little kid and more interested in them Weetabix skinheads, Roland Rat and Knight Rider. Either way, I'm an adult now and none of those things are on telly any more so there's no excuse for apathy. When John Lennon was told of Elvis Presley's death, he famously responded: When I awoke today on LA time my phone was full of impertinent digital eulogies. It'd be disingenuous to omit that there were a fair number of ding-dong-style celebratory messages amidst the pensive reflections on the end of an era.
Interestingly, one mate of mine, a proper leftie, in his heyday all Red Wedge and right-on punch-ups, was melancholy. If love is something you cherish, it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one's enemies. Perhaps, though, Thatcher "the monster" didn't die yesterday from a stroke, perhaps that Thatcher died as she sobbed self-pitying tears as she was driven, defeated, from Downing Street, ousted by her own party.
By then,I was 15, adolescent and instinctively anti-establishment enough to regard her disdainfully. I'd unthinkingly imbibed enough doctrine to know that, troubled as I was, there was little point looking elsewhere for support. I was on my own. We are all on our own. Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher's acolytes and fellow "Munsters evacuee", said when the National Union of Mineworkers eventually succumbed to the military onslaught and starvation over which she presided: The spell of community.
Those strikes were confusing to me as a child. All of the Tory edicts that bludgeoned our nation, as my generation squirmed through ghoulish puberty, were confusing. When all the public amenities were flogged, the adverts made it seem to my childish eyes fun and positive, jaunty slogans and affable British stereotypes jostling about in villages, selling people companies that they'd already paid for through tax.
I just now watched the British Gas one again. It's like a whimsical live-action episode of Postman Pat where his cat is craftily carved up and sold back to him. Jan Leeming, Sue Lawley, Moira Stuart — delivering doctrine with sterile sexiness, like a butterscotch-scented beige vapour.
To use a less bizarre analogy: You could never call Margaret Mother by mistake. For a national matriarch she is oddly unmaternal. I always felt a bit sorry for her biological children Mark and Carol, wondering from whom they would get their cuddles. How could anyone who was so resolutely Margaret Thatcher be anything else? Knocking up a flan for Denis or helping Carol with her algebra or Mark with his gun-running, are jarring distractions from the main narrative; woman as warrior queen.
It always struck me as peculiar, too, when the Spice Girls briefly championed Thatcher as an early example of girl power. I don't see that. She is an anomaly; a product of the freak-onomy of her time. Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had "broken the glass ceiling for other women".
Thatcher always honoured Britain's debt to Pinochet
Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism. I have few recollections of Thatcher after the slowly chauffeured, weepy Downing Street cortege. I'd become a delinquent, living on heroin and benefit fraud. There were sporadic resurrections.
She would appear in public to drape a hankie over a model BA plane tailfin because she disliked the unpatriotic logo with which they'd replaced the union flag maybe don't privatise BA thenor to shuffle about some country pile arm in arm with a doddery Pinochet and tell us all what a fine fellow he was.
It always irks when rightwing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context. They're happy to share big windfall bonuses with their cronies, they'll stick up for deposed dictator chums when they're down on their luck, they'll find opportunities in business for people they care about.
I hope I'm not being reductive but it seems Thatcher's time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it's much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.
Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy "survival of the fittest" — a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in On the Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn't surprising that there are parties tonight in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton — from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?
The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn't sad for anyone else. There are pangs of nostalgia, yes, because for me she's all tied up with Hi-De-Hi and Speak and Spell and Blockbusters and "follow the bear".
What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neo-liberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. I can't articulate with the skill of either of "the Marks" — Steel or Thomas — why Thatcher and Thatcherism were so bad for Britain but I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity.
Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship — it's just not British. I do not yet know what effect Margaret Thatcher has had on me as an individual or on the character of our country as we continue to evolve. As a child she unnerved me but we are not children now and we are free to choose our own ethical codes and leaders that reflect them.
Ken Capstick "For miners to be referred to as the 'enemy within' was something they would never forgive and, if there is rejoicing at her death in those communities she set out to destroy, it can only be understood against this background" In Britain had working coalmines and approximatelycoalminers. Today we have four coalmines and around 2, miners. They lived in close-knit communities built around and based on employment at the local colliery.
Miners were a hardy race of people who faced constant danger in the cause of mining coal but underneath that they were caring, sensitive individuals with a commitment to the communities in which they lived.
They looked after their old and young as well as those who were ill or infirm. They built and provided their own welfare facilities and, well before today's welfare state was built, miners created their own welfare systems to alleviate hardship. They rallied around each other when times were hard. They recognised the need for cohesion when at any time disaster could strike a family unit or indeed a whole community.
The latest pit to close, Maltby in Yorkshirestill has a death and general purpose fund to help fellow miners and their families in times of hardship. In short, miners believed in society. These values were the exact opposite of those Margaret Thatcher espoused. For miners, greed was a destructive force, not a force for good.
From the valleys of Wales to the far reaches of Scotland, miners were, by and large, socialists by nature but this was tempered by strong Christian beliefs.
Thatcher's threat to butcher the mining industry, destroy the fabric of mining communities and in particular the trade union to which miners had a bond of loyalty, was met with the fiercest resistance any government has met in peacetime.
For those miners and their families to be referred to as the " enemy within " by Thatcher was something they would never forgive and, if there is rejoicing at her death in those communities she set out to destroy, it can only be understood against this background.
Miners had always known that eventually any of the colleries would close and were always prepared to accept that as a fact of life and find employment somewhere else within the industry, but Thatcher's attack was wholesale. It was seen for what it was, nothing to do with economics, but purely an attempt to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers by wiping out the entire industry. Arthur Scargill and the miners represented the only opposition to the prime minister and her destructive and divisive values and, after the strike, the way was open for the most aggressive neoliberal policies.
Thatcher and Reagan went on to facilitate a colossal transfer of wealth from poor to rich, leading to the world economic crash we now witness. Thatcher was a divisive woman who created discord, not harmony. Simon Jenkins "I think on balance Thatcher did for Britain what was needed at the time. History will judge her, but not a country in Europe was untouched by Thatcher's example" Margaret Thatcher was Britain's most significant leader since Churchill.
In she inherited a nation that was the "sick man of Europe", an object of constant transatlantic ridicule. By it was transformed.
She and her successors John Major and Tony Blair presided over a quarter century of unprecedented prosperity. If it ended in disaster, the seeds were only partly hers. Almost everything said of Thatcher's early years was untrue, partly through her own invention. She was the daughter of a prosperous civic leader who merely began life as a "grocer".
Thatcher, Monckton and Pinochet
She went to a fee-paying school and to Oxford at her father's expense, gliding easily into the upper echelons of student politics. A Tory party desperate for women helped Thatcher through the political foothills to early success as an MP. Her gender led her into government and the shadow cabinet, despite Edward Heath's aversion to her.
It made her virtually unsackable as education secretary. As she said in her memoirs: Thatcher became prime minister because she was a woman, not despite it. As leader she was initially hyper-cautious. An unclubbable outsider, she allied herself to another outsider, Keith Josephand his free-market set.
But she regarded rightwing causes as an intellectual hobby. She was an ardent pro-European, and her manifesto made no mention of radical union reform or privatisation. It was thoroughly " wet ". On taking office she showered money on public sector unions, and her "cuts" were only to planned increases, mild compared with today's.
Yet by the autumn of they had made her so unpopular that bets were being taken at the October party conference that she would be "gone by Christmas". What saved Thatcher's bacon, and revolutionised her leadership, was Labour's unelectable Michael Foot — and the Falklands war. Whatever Tory historians like to claim, this was the critical turning point.
By delivering a crisp, emphatic victory Thatcher showed the world, and more important herself, what a talent for solitary command could achieve. From then on she disregarded her critics and became intolerant of any who were "not one of us". But Thatcher was still cautious. By the election she had sold off only Britoil and some council houses. The battle with the miners and leftwing councils lay ahead, as did the trauma of an IRA assassination bid.
It was only in the mids that she became truly radical and remotely comparable to David Cameron in She hurled herself into NHS reform, changes to schools and universities, utilities privatisation and, eventually, local government reform.
Each was characterised by her attention to detail. Her political antennae refused to allow her to privatise the coal industry, British Rail or the post office.
Thatcher was never insensitive to the impact of her policies on the poor. As she cut local housing budgets, she sent housing benefit soaring in compensation. She refused to reform social security, or even curb its abuse. Many of today's more controversial benefits, such as disability, date back to the 80s. After the election, Thatcher cut an increasingly isolated figure. Rows with Lawson and Geoffrey Howe over a European currency where she was right presaged the final shambles of the poll tax.
Until then Thatcher had shown the strength of her weakness: A senior civil servant said, "It worked because we all knew exactly what she wanted. The cautious tactician was suppressed. She became deaf to all warning. On the crucial morning in Novemberher colleagues marched individually into her room and each told her to go. It was a Charles I moment in British history.
Everyone knows where they were when they heard. Thatcher's reputation never recovered from the ruthless budgets of andor her insensitivity to colleagues. She was always the Spitting Image bully. Howe's "broken cricket bats" speech in the Commons was the killer blow.
It was mostly foreigners who could not understand why she fell. John Major, the "detoxification" successor, was fated to implement many of her unattempted reforms. But perhaps her greatest legacy was New Labour.
The most important thing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did for British politics was to understand the significance of Thatcherism and to decide not to reverse it, indeed to carry it forward.
Their reckless private finance of public investment and services went beyond anything she dared dream of. No one noticed, but she was Blair's first guest at Downing Street in Thatcher's most baleful influence on government was not on industries and services she privatised but those she did not.
She, and Blair after her, brought an unprecedented dirigisme to the NHS, education, police and local government. She was unashamed about this, loathing localism and rejecting calls to diminish the "strong state".
She hated what she called "that French phrase laissez faire". Her centralism, unequalled in Europe, descended under Blair into a morass of targetry, inefficiency and endless reorganisation.
Only today are we facing the cost. I think on balance Thatcher did for Britain what was needed at the time. History will judge her, but not a country in Europe was untouched by Thatcher's example. Under Heath and Jim Callaghan the question was widely asked: Thatcher answered that question, re-energising the concept of democratic leadership.
It was sad that she had to learn it in war, a grim example to her British and US successors. She was lucky, in her enemies and friends — notably Reagan in the Falklands conflict. She was lucky in surviving the IRA's bomb. But she exploited her luck.
She showed that modern prime ministers can still mark out room for individual manoeuvre. They do not have to charm, schmooze or play tag with the press. Government will respond to clear leadership if it knows what a leader wants. It knew what Thatcher wanted. Richard V Allen "She knew very well that she was an important component of what is often attributed solely to him, and in the first instance 'winning' the cold war" Farewelling Baroness Margaret Thatcher in a proper fashion is a difficult task: One thinks now of the closing words of her splendid eulogy of Ronald Reaganand how those words so perfectly speak a tribute to her life and works: But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had.
We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children. Unquestionably, a major component of what Reagan achieved was mirrored in what Baroness Thatcher herself achieved. A splendid synergy was created, deliberately and with just that in mind on both sides of the Atlantic. Reagan would often hasten to remind those paying tribute to his cold war strategy that it was, in the strictest sense of the term, a team effort. As I see it, and as one who had the pleasure of knowing both, they would recognize the huge opportunity created by the presence of each in the respective national and international policy-making role.
And he would credit the contribution of Helmut Kohl, who rose to power in Germany in part because of the influence of Thatcher and Reagan. Reagan and Thatcher first met inas my friend and colleague Peter Hannaford reminded me just today. Reagan, who had recently left office as governor of California, was in London to deliver a speech to the Pilgrim Society.
Reagan would challenge Gerald Ford, the sitting president, the next year. Mrs Thatcher was on the way up in British political life. Reagan was received coolly, and the discussion was highly superficial, if only because the British side clearly did not care to engage on substance: Many whom Reagan encountered in public life thought of him in this way, but most politicians would love to reach even "Grade B" status.
Underestimating Ronald Reagan was an error committed by many of his critics and opponents; Reagan never minded a bit, thinking that being underestimated yielded him a significant advantage.
Mikhail Gorbachevfor one, learned the hard way. But Margaret Thatcher did not hesitate, and the long, substantive lunch seemed to energize both future world leaders. Reagan was especially interested in Mrs Thatcher's domestic policy initiatives, and it was quickly established that the foreign policy views ran along parallel lines.
She, for one, never underestimated her friend from California, then a state of some 24 million. InI made several fast round trips to London, Paris and Bonn, and, on each occasion, had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Thatcher. The prime minister was intensely interested in the campaign, and asked many penetrating questions. The meeting was their last in person until Mrs Thatcher became Reagan's first state visitor, February It was a visit warmly welcomed by President Reagan, with a resplendent state nner on the first evening.
In a break with tradition and protocol, Reagan decided he'd also attend the "return dinner" at the British Embassy the next evening. The task of representing the White House usually was the role of the vice-president, but in this special case, the Reagans and the Bushes both attended.
On Saturday, 27 February, he wrote in his diary: In my view, nothing said prior to her passing or since has been inaccurate in the description of this very special, warm relationship, the likes of which we may never see again. And by my own firsthand experience, it was genuine to the core.
Not even the Falklands war would push it off the tracks or damage it in any way. Speaking personally, it was a personal privilege beyond measure to have witnessed and participate in the blossoming of the special ties that continued throughout her entire time in office.
In the early s, the Republican party joined with other moderate and conservative parties in the world to form the International Democrat Union. This was a historic step, and resulted in further reinforcing the US-UK alliance. At a party leaders' meeting in Washington, DC inPrime Minister Thatcher spent all day in the House of Commons, then boarded Concorde and flew to Washington to participate until late into the evening; she took such policy co-operation very seriously. On her return to London, she sent me a warm and complimentary letter, a prize in my personal archives.
Two especially forceful and committed leaders on the world stage at the same time: Farewell, indeed, Baroness Thatcher. We Americans will not see you again in our time, but we will never forget you.
Hadley Freeman "Thatcher is one of the clearest examples of the fact that a successful woman doesn't always mean a step forward for women" She was, of course, the first and so far only female British prime minister, Jon Snow reiterated on Monday night, insinuating that this achievement should in general be celebrated, never mind the specifics of her leadership. In the pantheon of this comedian's attacks on Thatcher, it was a retort that probably won't be treasured longer than the best lines from The Young Ones.
This was hardly the first or even the worst example of a dig at Thatcher tinged so needlessly with sexism. Of all the things to criticise Thatcher for, calling her out for being a woman seems like something of a wasted bullet. Yet despite the attempts of some columnists to claim otherwise, Thatcher can't really be seen as "a warrior in the sex war"let alone as "the ultimate women's libber ".
Far from " smashing the glass ceiling ", she was the aberration, the one who got through and then pulled the ladder up right after her. In truth, Thatcher is one of the clearest examples of the fact that a successful woman doesn't always mean a step forward for women. In 11 years, Thatcher promoted only one woman to her cabinet, preferring instead to elevate men whom Spitting Image memorably and, in certain instances, accurately, described as "vegetables".
You may not be a fan of Edwina Currie but, really, was she any worse than John Gummer? These include, "We have to show them that we're better than they are", and "Women can get into corners that men can't reach! They also reveal how she loved to surround herself with yes men who were always men.
Rather, she was a classic example of a certain kind of conservative woman who believed that all women should pull themselves up just as she had done, conveniently overlooking that not all women are blessed with the privileges that had been available to her, such as a wealthy and supportive husband and domestic help. Interestingly, Currie also recalled that when she approached Thatcher in to get approval for the world's first national breast-screening programme, she tried to appeal to the PM initially "as a woman" but that swiftly proved unsuccessful.
Women aren't always good for other women because the gender of a person matters a lot less than that person's actual beliefs. I am reminded of this every time the debate comes up about whether more female bylines would reduce sexism in the media. Contrary to an increasingly common belief, "a woman who is successful" is not synonymous with "a feminist".
On the day Thatcher died, the Daily Mail ran a piece claiming that Coco Chanel "was a feminist before the word existed". Leaving aside the detail that the word "feminist" came into existence incomfortably in Chanel's lifetime, the woman who valued femininity above all other qualities in a woman and was heavily involved with the Nazis, including a wartime relationship with German officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage, could not, in any circumstances, be described as a feminist.
And nor could Thatcher, much to her relief as she allegedly abhorred the word, as doubtless Chanel did, too.
Both were successful women who could play the flirt card when it suited them, but ultimately had little interest in being kind to their own sex; Thatcher especially resented being defined by her gender. People should pay her the respect of doing the same after her death. She wasn't a feminist icon and she wasn't an icon for women. Any attempts at revisionism do no favours to her, women or feminism. To claim that any woman's success is a boon for feminism is like saying all publicity is good publicity.
Seeing as women aren't a minor Brit-flick grateful for even a bad review, that truism doesn't quite hold true here. She was a prime minister who happened to be a woman. It's how she would have, if pressed, put it herself. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett "The widening of income differences between rich and poor that took place during the 80s is the most rapid ever recorded" Margaret Thatcher's most important long-term legacy is likely to be the huge rise in inequality that she caused.
The widening of income differences between rich and poor that took place during the 80s particularly from is the most rapid ever recorded. The most widely used measure of income differences shows inequality increasing by more than a third during her period in office. The proportion of children living in relative poverty more than doubled during the 80s, and the damage has never been undone.Christy Moore V Maggie Thatcher(Tea with Pinochet)!
Many of the effects of inequality have long lag periods. As Danny Dorling says in his study of the rise in violence: Thatcher is often credited with showing that you could get to the top whatever your background.
But as weand others including Alan Krueger, chair of Obama's council of economic advisers have shown, wider income differences reduce social mobility and make it harder for people with poorer backgrounds to do so.
Now she would more likely have been beaten to the Tory leadership by one of the Etonians in cabinet. Although the " right to buy " and the privatisation of utilities by selling shares to new small investors was often justified as giving rights to "the little people", the reality is that the less well-off fell ever further behind the rich.
Though she recognised the dangers of global warming, Thatcher's industrial and economic policies prioritised economic growth. But growth rates in the decades since her period in office have been lower than during those that preceded her; nor does the balance of research evidence suggest that greater inequality acts as a spur to growth.
Understandably, less cohesive societies — with more drugs, more crime and lower mobility — waste talent, and are not good places to do business. Weakening the power of trade unions was not only essential to her project, but several studies suggest that their continued weakness may be an important part of the reason why inequality has not declined in the intervening decades.
International studies of OECD countries suggest a close relationship between the decline in trade union membership and the rise in inequality. In a world where most media talking heads come from the top few percent of income earners, unions are not only important in wage bargaining, they also provide some of the few well-informed voices whose job it is to speak on behalf of the less well-paid.
That bonuses and top incomes continue to rise while the incomes of the rest of the population struggle to keep up with inflation tells us that what we needed was legislation to ensure employee representation on company boards and remuneration committees as many of our European partners have. The price we all continue to pay for Thatcherite policies is to live in a less cohesive and more antisocial society, in which community life is weaker, people feel less able to trust each other and fewer of those in government have the experience and compassion to represent or understand the vast majority.
Thatcher's infamous failure to recognise the existence of society was a double failure. A growing body of research now shows that the quality of social relations is among the most powerful influences on the happiness, health and wellbeing of populations in the rich countries.
A Most Unlikely Case: Chile, Pinochet and the Advance of Human Rights
After material needs have been met, research has repeatedly shown that further rises in material standards contribute less and less to wellbeing.
In rich societies such as the UK, what makes most difference to the real quality of our lives is the quality of community life and social interaction. Statistics now confirm what many people have always recognised: The evidence shows that greater equality provides the foundation on which higher standards of social wellbeing can be built.
As a result, Labour authorities in eight or so British cities have set up fairness commissions to reduce income differences locally.