Why the prospect of Thatcher’s death sickens me

Thatcher at Chequers
Thatcher at Chequers 1993 (BBC Radio 4, via Flickr)

Margaret Thatcher is a frail old woman and it seems fairly likely that she’ll die quite soon. I couldn’t really care less whether she does or not, but I’m beginning to dread the day she finally packs her handbag for the last time and shuffles off. 

Perhaps I should have begun this post with a disclaimer: This is not about politics. 

It isn’t. And I’m not going to discuss the what she did between 1979 and 1990. I was 12 when she became Prime Minister and 23 when she left office. I grew up through those years so she’s just as much a part of my story as Duran Duran and my first boyfriend. 

But just as I hardly think of either the boyfriend or the New Romantics, Thatcher doesn’t trouble my mind very much. 

Except that, these days, every time I look at Twitter or sometimes in other places on the internet I’m shocked by what I find written.

Perfectly normal, compassionate people appear to be poised to celebrate her demise. And not just go “oh, I’m glad she’s dead,” as they put the kettle on and reach for the HobNobs, but to vow to dance on her corpse, party like they were Hell’s Angels and take to the streets in a lawless frenzy of celebration.

We’re not talking about a current despot or evil dictator, it’s someone who has had no relevance to our democratic public life for decades. 

The dripping poison that spews out at the mention of her name astounds me. Reason and humanity seem not to apply in her case. (Here’s where I leave a gap for the rants of “but she wasn’t reasonable or humane”.)

It doesn’t really matter. Surely we are better than this hysteria. Where’s the part in a civilised society for the blood-thirsty and vengeful? What kind of an example is this for our children? Obviously no one is expecting crocodile tears, just a little restraint and some respect for human life, whoever it belongs to. 

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  1. says

    Hmmm. I really really hated her, with a vengence, when she was in power FOR WHAT SHE DID THEN. I suffered from her cuts, I had huge problems caused in work directly because of her policies – I was 18 in 1979 and so I lived my young adult working life as a scientific civil servant during her period in power and I had parents and siblings who suffered from her ” there is no society” policies


    Once she left power ( and yes! how I punched the air and crowed as I watched her leave Downing St in tears! – sorry, but I did)

    and especially now she is old and frail and frankly to be cared for and cherished just as much as any other elderly, frail, confused older person – no I cannot find it in my heart to feel the same.

    Maybe I have mellowed, and I never was of the ” treat her like Khomeni and tear her to bits” brigade but as a left wing socialist born in 1962 I really really loathed all she stood for politically. But never hated her as a PERSON if you get what I mean.

    MAybe that is just me, or maybe it is because I am a woman, or maybe I have mellowed in old age, but I find it very distateful to hear people still demanding she have her grave desecrated etc , when she finally dies.

    Let the poor old dear RIP, she has suffered enough, I sispect, to make up for any supposed failings.

  2. says

    Exactly the same. I couldn't stand the sight of her then.

    The things that people say about her now especially on Twitter say a lot about those commnenters. It's not big or clever or funny. Surely it would be more dignified to say nothing at all?

    I loved the film The Iron Lady. Not historically accurate, of course, but as a portrait of a frail old woman looking back over the past. Meryl Streep's portrayal was astounding and it was worth seeing the film just for that. But I'm amazed how some people who see themselves as educated and look down on others with intellectual disdain, have berated me for speaking highly of the film, or even for going to see it, just because they hated her. It's bizarre intellectual wooliness, surely?

  3. says

    Have mixed feelings over this but agree with your view.
    I arrived in the UK a month or so before she was 'forced' from office and hence only heard secondhand of the vicissitudes some people went through during her time as PM. Either way, I certainly got a sense of a great divide whenever her name was mentioned: either devotion and worship or sheer hatred, with not much in between.
    Have also not seen the film The Iron Lady, but am now keen to get it on DVD. Have been told it is quite something given the angle from which it is told.

    LCM x

  4. says

    Well said. I didn't agree with her politics at all, and they effected me negatively BUT that was a long time ago now and she is a frail old woman now – and thus should be treated with respect.

  5. says

    I agree – her politics were what they were but that was decades ago and surely that bile should be reserved for the sorry excuses for politicians we are currently blessed with?

    She is an eldery, infirm lady – a mother, a grandmother and her family are suffering enough with her extended illness to have to read all that horrible things

    If you can't say something nice, don't write something horrid that won't ever go away on the internet, no?

  6. says

    There's a lot of talk of compassion here and that's very fine, but did she show any to so many? I do see what you are getting at though. As others have said, she's a mother, grandmother and human being with friends and so on, so of course it is sad when anyone dies and you would have to be quite a callous person to revel in that.

    On the other hand, along with her cabinets that she picked, they did put through some pretty terrifying legislation and, along with Reagan, helped move the world to the right to an extent that it hasn't moved back in many parts, UK included. She has also left an incredible legacy so this idea that she no longer matters and her stuff was all years ago is nonsense.

    It's conflicting because a part of me, yes, would be pleased at her dying because there's no doubt that she helped so many on the way to the grave herself. But I also accept that wishing another person dead makes me a pretty lousy excuse for a human being.

    And I wonder about the 'well, she's old now, so give her some respect' line here. Is getting to old age the new benchmark for washing away old sins?

  7. says

    Thanks Craig.
    I suppose what I'm getting at is that whatever someone's 'sins' they are still human beings and must be afforded respect and dignity. I'm not saying what she did doesn't matter it's just connected to the death of a frail old woman.

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