Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/761/16512
Thatcher... and us
We're told that Thatcher 'saved the country'. But unemployment skyrocketed under her governments - from 1.09 million in May 1979 to 3.13 million in July 1986. And these figures were probably an underestimate as Thatcher's ministers tried everything to improve the figures (other than protecting and creating jobs of course) - during the 1980s there were 28 revisions in how the figures were calculated.
Thatcher's policies did improve things for some people. Corporation tax was cut from 52% to 35% and the top rate of inheritance tax was reduced from 75% to 40%. And it was cuts all round as public spending was reduced to its lowest level for 20 years by the end of the 1980s. The Family Expenditures Survey showed that real incomes of the bottom 10% fell by 9.7% between 1979 and 1985.
The right-wing media and politicians alike keep pointing out what a popular leader Thatcher was. Her election results tell a different story. The Tory vote in 1979 was 43.9%, the highest under Thatcher's leadership. In fact the only significant increase in Tory vote (but not percentage) came once John Major took over! Now her descendants in the Con-Dem government want to impose rules on union ballots meaning that 50% support would be needed.
Friends and family
A lot can be determined about Thatcher by the company she kept - both friends and family. Chilean dictator Pinochet, whose regime murdered thousands, went to the Thatchers' for tea several times. She lent heavily on US president of the time Ronald Reagan, who mirrored her attacks on welfare, jobs and the trade unions on the other side of the Atlantic. Her son, Mark, was infamously arrested by South African police in 2004 for financing a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Her daughter, Carol, was sacked from The One Show for racism in 2009.
Join a union
One of the things Thatcher is most hated for is her attacks on trade union rights, including limiting the grounds for a dispute and restricting the numbers allowed to picket.
The RMT transport union is backing an initiative asking people to "bury Thatcherism - join a union". General secretary Bob Crowe said: "Margaret Thatcher, and the class interests she represented, hated trade unions for one very good reason - the organised working class, against a backdrop of a Labour Party bought and sold by Thatcherism, is the only effective point of resistance to greed, exploitation and corruption. That's why she sought to destroy us and that's why her legacy has to be a resurgent trade union movement prepared to pick up the cudgels and turn back the tide."
One bloke in Trafalgar Square the Saturday after Thatcher's death used to live in Scotland, which he now described as an industrial desert with shipbuilding gone, steel mills shut and pits closed during Thatcher's reign in the 1980s. He'd been forced to live in London and now worked as a van driver. When he heard the news on 8 April, he nearly punched the windscreen out.
Another guy said he just wished she had died 40 years earlier as he had served in the army and 200 of his comrades had died in the Falklands war.
Thatcher effigy, complete with handbag, swirled through the throng of thousands, some with party hats and witch hats, and the occasional popping bottle of champagne.
Even the continuous rain could not dampen the spirits of the thousands there to celebrate Thatcher's demise.
It was definitely not a night to be missed. Complete strangers would just start talking to you about why they were there and how glad they were that she had gone. Four Socialist Party members from Hackney sold 26 copies of the Socialist reflecting the mood.
In The Socialist 17 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news