The world of politics can seem so very boring. To many people in this country the entertainment value of watching Question Time and a listening to Gary Barlow’s new single are exactly the same. However, one event in the political calendar seized everyone’s attention: the Death of Margret Thatcher.
To many Scots, Thatcher was a witch: a figure of hatred, symbolic of everything un-Scottish. Though this may (or may not) be the sensible attitude to convey, it is evident that Scotland is partly lying to itself. Confused? Well let’s think back to that momentous time…
It was the 8th of April 2013. Thatcher had just died and the BBC was reminding us just how wonderful she was. Wonderful, not just as a person (as caring, and sincere, and giving as she was), but for this country as well. “She made everyone believe they could make it” according to Lord Alan Sugar. It then occurred to me. There is a very good chance that you, yes you, the innocent student, apprentice, part-time worker, is the product of Thatcherism.
The notion that we should go out and get rich, try at all costs to serve ourselves and make as much of the green stuff as will fit in our Swiss bank accounts is the most obvious legacy of Thatcher. We were all told that making money – lots of money – was the object of life. Go out, get a job that pays good money, buy nice things; or better start a business up, make more money, and buy nicer things. Even on TV; the Apprentice was on, Dragon’s Den was on. I remember thinking “these guys are so cool – and they are filthy, stinking rich! I wanna be just like them!”
When we actually take time to consider this, David Cameron’s’ claim that “we are all Thatcherites now” does not seem like nonsense after all. The Daily Telegraph put it perfectly, writing that she was responsible for “the widespread acceptance of capitalism.”
It was only a while back when my older brother and I were discussing how my ‘creativity’ and his ‘business know-how’ were going to make us millionaires. Fashion, interior design, restaurant chains, sportswear, perfume, web design. Who knows? Who cares? We’re gonna be millionaires for God’s sake!
But of course, there is a robust system in place to prevent people like me, and you, and my older brother from ever making it – it is called Capitalism.
We have had it pressed into our skulls that this is a “Land of Opportunity”. On these British shores any one can make it. What’s more, if you work hard, you will make it. ‘By work hard’, what is meant of course is be born into a well-to-do middle class family with good connections, screw a lot people over and hope that luck will take you the rest of the way.
So what happens to the ones who want to grow up and help people? Doctors, teachers, nurses, lecturers, carers, councillors, janitors. Oh don’t
The idea that strengthening private corporations, so that they have even greater power, will somehow save everyone from bankruptcy or poverty is an absolute illusion! This gives the young, egocentric individual an excuse to strive for wealth and luxury and power. The chances are that they will fail and become a slave to the very system that they were meant to be dominating. However there are the odd couple that manage to squeeze through. These become are the guys who then make sure you aren’t going to make it. ‘You can put your fashion portfolio away, this is capitalism, love.’ And that’s the beauty of Thatcherism. Yeah, you can dance on her grave. Yeah, sing ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ all down that yellow brick road. But if you think Thatcherism’s dead, then you’re the one desperately needing a brain. Great Britain is not for turning.}