“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcolm X.
We’re witnessing the sort of sanctimonious, manipulative whitewash that occurred after the death of Princess Diana. Only this time it matters.
Even the BBC are churning out chinless 60 year old Tories, spouting ridiculous sycophancy and affording Thatcher the sort of fictional gravitas one more readily associates with an over indulgent parent and their only child.
A glassy-eyed John Sergeant spoke of her playful flirtatiousness. And David Mellor spoke of being – quote – “handbagged” by Thatcher. Let’s not think about it.
Indeed, not only are we being asked to comply with solemnity as a consequence of her death, but we are also being subjected to a portrayal of the Milk Snatcher as femme fatale by a procession of Eton-educated jowls.
It’s such a shame we never hear of Hitler’s come-to-bed eyes, or Mugabe’s karaoke party-piece version of It Had to be You.
The media – incorporating new media, the internet and social networks – are insidiously positioning those jubilant at Thatcher’s death as inhumane and uncivil, and due to a serious lack of anything approaching balanced coverage, working class people are being swept into a sea of rhetoric and dogma which completely belies the truth about the life (and consequently death) of Thatcher.
I have seen people in the last couple of days – football fans – quote Martin Luther King Jr., who famously said he wouldn’t revel in anyone’s death. Not even the death of an enemy. And there are a great many people who I respect and admire who adhere to working class values, one of which is that we should not speak ill of the dead.
In usual cases, I could accept that there is little to be gained from revelling in a death. But I think we can make an exception for Thatcher, indeed I feel we’re obligated to not allow our earned jubilation to be subdued by swathes of lacklustre journalists, too young, posh or southern to understand the misery inflicted by the evil tyrant in anything other than distant, academic terms.
During the bleakest years of Thatcher’s reign: Miners, Poll Tax, Trade Unions, unemployment, riots, Ireland, football fans…us… we sang of building a bonfire and putting her on the top. We spoke, during those decades of enforced privatisation, the deregulation of the banks (which is the true birth of the current recession), thousands of families in collieries, people forced to go to prison for non-payment of the Poll Tax… we spoke of revelling at her death. Of dancing on her grave. This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction; we’ve been counting down the fucking days.
The Specials sung about Thatcher’s Britain in Ghost Town, Morrissey wrote of Maggie on the Guillotine and more. We narrowly lost many battles with Thatcher, but we had the very slight recompense of the prospect of rejoicing at her death.
Not at the death – as has been espoused by the media – of a frail old lady who will be sadly missed by her children and grandchildren. The truth is she died as she lived, having spent the last four months of her life in a luxury hotel, in an elevated and privileged position completely shut off from the people whose lives she ruined. And respect the family? Which one? The criminal arms dealer or the famous kangaroo cock eater who pissed in a bush a couple of years ago on prime time telly?
The sordid attempts to try to appeal to the base humanity of a group of people she spent a life torturing and tormenting is the final twist of the knife.
Compassion? Dignity? Where was her compassion for Bobby Sands and the hunger strikers? Where was her compassion for the families of the Liverpool fans at Hillsborough to whom she knew the police had mistreated?
Thatcher hated football fans. She hated sport in general, but she especially hated football.
Whilst is important to say that the 80’s were a bleak era for football violence and hooliganism; Thatcher scapegoated many fans and attempted (and fortunately failed) to implement an ID card system to control and round up people she had a thorough contempt for.
This idea being peddled by Dave Whelan and others that she is the saviour of football is as dangerous as it is mythological. Thatcher hated football and made no secret of that fact. She allowed the families of those killed at Hillsborough to endure years of vilification, in a bid to further demonise the poor and negate her police force of wrongdoing. I have no doubt we will hear more details of the depth and breadth of her inhumanity in the months and years to come.
Regardless of our tribal football allegiances, the football fans of Thatcher’s era had one thing in common: we were working class and were getting fucked over by the Tory government.
Thatcher saw no difference between those on the picket line and those at the match. Those of us in the north have suffered most poignantly.
She cared so little for sport that she invested next to nothing in sports education which has left us with a deficit of home grown talent and scores of working class kids who might’ve achieved more in football.
Paul Parker wrote in his Yahoo blog earlier today that Thatcher deserved a one minute silence. He spoke of the Council house Right to Buy Scheme that allowed his parents to buy their own home that they would never have otherwise been able to afford. Unfortunately, in doing so Thatcher ensured future generations massive housing problems. There is a huge shortage of quality, affordable homes she never built. And whilst it is lamentable that Parker – a black player during a (superficially at least) more racist era – feels she is owed her silence, I don’t think the rest of us should agree.
Thank God our club made the decision as the first team to play after her death, not to try to observe a minute’s silence. It’s not that it would have been adhered to, but I quite like the idea that whilst we live in an age where minute silences are occasionally observed for fairly off-radar public reasons, this evil witch has been rightfully overlooked by us.
The Taylor Report occurred because of pressure on the government from fans and she already had her foot out of the door once it reached its findings. Other than the travelling status of fans after Heysel, Thatcher’s input into football was barbaric. She’s a proven liar, a friend of Murdoch and represents everything that long-term fans hate about the game. Whether or not you like all seated stadia – itself a bone of contention amongst fans – she was not responsible for them, Taylor was.
In much the same way many are embarrassed they allowed themselves to be swept up in the post-Diana media, I have a feeling some may feel foolish for allowing themselves to be swayed by a media court who are comprised of people who didn’t and couldn’t and wouldn’t know what it felt like to be personally aggrieved by her. I don’t mean as an opponent of her policies. I mean personally wounded by her laws and governance.
This sense that we are hippy, tie-dye, tree huggers looking for our next excuse to be uncivilised and barbaric couldn’t be further from the truth. We are talking about pensioners in Wales, the North East etc. Grieving families in Ireland, Argentina and beyond. Real people, real lives, real tyranny.
It’s true that celebrating her death does not change the current Tory boy coalition, it doesn’t change the modernisation of football which is moving further and further away from ordinary people, and it doesn’t change Thatcher’s legacy and the battles we lost or that she stole from us.
But the prospect of her death reopens those debates, allows us to properly grieve for the people WE lost. The true victims.
We deserve to not observe silence. We owe it to ourselves not to be subdued into false ideas about posthumous dignity that eluded Thatcher for all her life.
It is not a celebration for hating Thatcher; hate is for others. But a declaration of the love we have for all those people that suffered, and the chapter closed on the figurehead who caused it.
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