Those immortal words from that seemingly immortal monster, and when she spewed them from her acid tongue to the readers of Woman’s Own, she’d already spent 8 years ripping the soul out of our communities.
Where to start?
Recently, in this here forest, one of the hospitals was threatened with closure and the locals demonstrated, petitioned, fought and won, because this hospital had been built and funded by the miners at the princely sum of a penny a week from their proper hard earned pay. I feel blessed to dwell in a place that still holds a sense of community close to it’s heart, but sad at the fact that these little pockets of society are now so few and far between.
Thatcher and her government sold these values to capitalist corporations – the industries and services that the common man had funded through PAYE – coal, iron and steel, electricity, gas, transport, telecommunications and even water, primarily to rip the power from the Trade Unionists and fatten the rich. Ok, so strikes are inconvenient, be a bit pointless if they weren’t, but they’ve long improved working conditions and pay and without the voice of the working classes, things would be very different in the workplace for the majority of us today.
And as for selling off social housing and then not releasing the money to build more, gah! How was sticking low income families into the debt cycle ever going to be a good thing? It caused yet another community divide – ‘I can change my front door..you can’t’ – and the repossession rate was mahoosive, leaving families in need of rehoming and nowhere to put them, oh, except soul-destroying hostels (I did 4 months in one with a baby. 24 hour noise, syringes ahoy and shit smeared on the walls of the communal toilets), B&B’s or private sector renting. Ugh, those two words together – ‘private sector’ – the driving force behind personal greed.
But that’s what the ‘Iron Lady’ (gawd, I hate that term..can’t imagine her doing her own ironing and she ain’t no lady – ‘Stone-hearted Cunt’ suits better) and her government were about. Each man for himself. Divide and fucking conquer.
Let’s not forget the 1984-85 Miner’s strikes, and I remember the television coverage well, mostly, I think, because my Dad was a staunch Tory and shouted at that numb box in the corner at Arthur Scargill regularly. This was when my interest in politics was born and, for a while, my relationship with my Dad crumbled. I couldn’t share his opinions. In fact, they couldn’t have been more opposing. No-one argued with my old man except me, it seems! And we debated, rowed and fell out over politics for years. I guess this is just evidence that it wasn’t just society that that megalomaniacal bitch was dividing.
Through her passionate love of the ‘free market’, she’d threatened to close twenty-odd pits three years prior to this, but backed down at the threat of a strike. Not for long though. In 1984, when the pit closures were re-announced, with over 20,000 jobs on the line, Thatcher and her boys already had measures in place to fuck the miners. Coal stockpiles, power stations converted to burn petrol and a fleet of trucks on standby incase the railway workers made a stand. This power-crazed bitch wasn’t going to lose, whatever the cost, and the cost was enormous. These working class men fought for their livelihood, the backbone of their communities, for almost a year. Riots ensued from mounted police brought in from outside the area for fear of sympathy. They charged with batons. People died, including three children scavenging on the slag heaps for coal. Under Clause 6 (1980) dependants couldn’t claim what we’d now call a crisis loan, and without handouts thousands of people would have died for the sake of cheap imports. Living conditions got so bad that some men returned to work at various stages, the earlier ones labelled as scabs, though the numbers were severely inflated by the government to kick hard at the miner’s morale, and many turned against each other through sheer bloody desperation. Divide and conquer.
“I must tell you … that what we have got is an attempt to substitute the rule of the mob for the rule of law, and it mustnot succeed. [CHEERS] It must not succeed. There are those who are using violence and intimidation to impose their will on others who do not want it…. The rule of law must prevail over the rule of the mob.” – Thatcher (remarking on the Orgreave picketing)
“We’ve had riot shields, we’ve had riot gear, we’ve had police on horseback charging into our people, we’ve had people hit with truncheons and people kicked to the ground…. The intimidation and the brutality that has been displayed are something reminiscent of a Latin American state.” – Arthur Scargill’s response.
I live in what was a mining community and the area is still relatively poor today. There is still an undertone of bitterness, directed largely at the outsiders who bought up the quaint little miner’s cottages cheap, knocked them together to make bigger dwellings and either lord it, use them as holiday homes or sell them on at a huge profit. You should have seen it here after the Tories took a longtime Labour seat at the last election.
It seemed that any sign of community was to be abolished from the mind, body and soul of the common man. Bring on the thought police for us rats on the wheel. In daring to express a will for freedom from such bounds, just after the miner’s strike the ‘new age’ traveller communities drove into that horrific ambush known as the Battle of the Beanfields. Knowing that these ‘tax dodging, soap-dodging hippy scum’ would gather for the Stonehenge Free Festival was too much of a perfect opportunity for Thatcher to miss, especially with the anti-climax from her war with the miners. Blame English Heritage if you like, but they have no power over riot police! They were under orders to rip apart this free-spirited community and that is exactly what they did. This was police brutality at it’s very best.
“What I have seen in the last thirty minutes here in this field has been some of the most brutal police treatment of people that I’ve witnessed in my entire career as a journalist. The number of people who have been hit by policemen, who have been clubbed whilst holding babies in their arms in coaches around this field, is yet to be counted. There must surely be an enquiry after what has happened today.” – Kim Sabido (then ITN reporter speaking into a camera)
Her statement was removed from the evening’s news coverage, and other brutal film shots disappeared without trace. Some of it which was rediscovered in the early 90’s and broadcast on Channel 4’s ‘Operation Solstice’.
“There was glass breaking, people screaming, black smoke towering out of burning caravans and everywhere there seemed to be people being bashed and flattened and pulled by the hair. Men, women and children were led away, shivering, swearing, crying, bleeding, leaving their homes in pieces.” – Nick Davies (The Observer)
Families were separated by counties in the subsequent arrests. (funny that) and the police made claims that the travellers attacked first, but not for long. Though it took 6 years for them to win in court against the police – £24,000 with their own costs to pay. There’s justice for you.
“We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty” – Thatcher
The Falklands – hmmm. Her thirst for confrontation knew no bounds, especially with a general election coming up. It’s no coincidence that the withdrawal of HMS Endurance from the South Atlantic was announced while Argentina was in times of civil unrest and economic mess. They needed a diversion and Thatcher wanted a war. 74 days – 900 dead – she got it.
I know there is so much more, but these are the things that stand out for me The things that showcase her hatred for the common man (even though her Dad was a grocer). Her deluded sense of superiority, her unquenchable thirst for power and confrontaton. It feels only natural to finish my rant with the Poll Tax.
Scrapped was the old rates system based on the value of your house and in was the Community Charge, based on how many lived in your house. Great if you were Lord & Lady F.W. Loaded rattling around you mansion house, but utterly crippling if you were Joe Public in your two bed terrace. That vicious cunt knew her reign was ending, and JAYZUS was she trying to go out in style, but it backfired somewhat. It was one step too far in fucking the masses up the arse. She wanted reaction, but she never expected the scale in which she got it.
I was living on the road in Cornwall somewhere at the time and missed the whole bloody thing (including ever having to pay it) but many of my friends didn’t.
March 31st 1990 – there were demonstrations all over the country. The turnout figure for London protesters was anything up to 250,000, marching from Kennington Park to Trafalgar Square (apart from those flying the Class War banner and anyone behind them. They were diverted to Parliament Square. Divide and conquer.)
Arrests were heavy handed to say the least. Yet again the mounted police charged, and chaos reigned, because this wasn’t a few thousand miners on a picket line. This wasn’t a few hundred travellers cornered in a field. This was in excess of 200,000 pissed off with being fucked over largely law-abiding citizens on the streets of the capital. Blame the anarchists if you like, tis a convenient label, and all too easily chucked on those who sieze an opportunity to loot and fight (that’s fight, not defend). There are always going to be extremists who are either over-passionate for their cause or just get off on it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pacifist who protests with a picnic or an angry young man on a mission or anything inbetween, when you are out there standing up for your civil rights because some fucker is trying to take them away, you are indeed an anarchist.
This, coupled with the resignation of her, until then, faithful Deputy Geoffrey Howe, who famously said (on serving Thatcher) “It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find the moment that the first balls are bowled that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain” marked the end of an era, and on 22nd November 1990 she stood down before she was pushed.
In 3 weeks time, on May 6th, incase you weren’t aware there’s a general election.
The Conservatives intend to bring back fox hunting, hare coarsing, deer stalking. ‘Bleeding heart’ some of you are thinking. Maybe baby, but there is so much more to it than that. It’s a clear sign that Cameron’s government, should they get in, would again pander to the rich, increase the gap further between rich society (because they’re allowed one) and the working classes, which like it or not, if you work, or receive any subsidies – dole, tax credits etc, you are, though they’ll have you believe otherwise. Divide and conquer.