The debate following Baroness Thatcher’s death has been a monochromatic movie shot in Lookbackroscope
A gentle abolitionist of opposition, Margaret Hilda Lolita Dragon Thatcher was varietally honest – charming or toppling military dictators, one minute vilifying unfortunate Russians with birthmarks, the next fluttering her fire-siren eyes at Hollywood hasbeens. The unbending Iron despot and really rather coquettish ankle-flasher was as much at home chopping the legs off Yorkshire Stalinists with silly haircuts and Peter Sellers syntax as she was getting up the Monarch’s nose or Murdoch’s backside. Even-handed to the end, Maggie Hatchet Bouffant Charmgrind followed the blind path of every visionary: all for one son called Mark, and one for all of us paying a Poll tax. She leaves behind her a Nation purged of Union fascists and prone to banking sociopaths. Britain was changed forever and yet, by travelling on a long and expensive journey right round the Circle Line, able to arrive back exactly where it had started. This is, surely, what made her the archetypal, all-time great British leader.
And it is also perhaps why we have been subjected – all fucking week – to a non-stop cacophony of backwards-looking hate: for this too is what binds us asunder as a nation in 2013:
old ideas, ancient grudges, bigoted attitudes, and an infinite hatred of the new. We have in contemporary Britain a series of pointless and puerile slanging matches on almost every subject: the EU, climate change, and Arab v Israeli…but above all, Old Labour vs Old Thatcherism.
From the Ed Balls(s), Harriet Harmans, LibDems, and children of terribly upset chattering do-gooders, there is nothing but visceral insult and holy condemnation from folks, many of whom were in short trousers when she came to power. Whereas from Dan Hannan, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, and every City twerp on the planet, nothing ever gets beyond pompous certainty and vomit-making deification. I said last week that I would not add to my succinct verdict of the grocer’s daughter who was actually the Mayor’s daughter: but this is nothing at all to do with her. It is to do with the incurably stagnant nature of our political debate, reform, legislation, and process.
If you recruit politicians from admirers of the current political ‘wisdom’, that wisdom will never change. Both Parties do it, and both find themselves captured in amber: pleistocene DNA producing plaster saints. Thatcher is dead, the State sector has gone, and our econo-banking model is about to go bust in spectacular fashion. What we need after Tuesday’s funeral is less onanism and more open minds.
In stark contrast to that vain plea for escape, there are moves afoot from all dark corners everywhere to close down any debate about anything. It’s easy to see why this is: when that level of argument has reached the stage of Open Bank Reconciliation, the last thing any of those in power want is people actually thinking about how utterly risible it is. What we endured last week was more and more clowns juggling the truth about the past onstage, while others argued with ersatz passion that anyone putting money in a bank must accept the same risk “as everyone else” in the future.
Imagine going to pick up your car after a service, and you get there to discover it’s been sold.
“Yurrh,” says the grease-monkey, “Sorry squire – we ‘ad ter sell it, see? Went bust dint we?”
“But I gave you business…I didn’t invest in it,” you insist.
“Caveat emptor mate, caveat emptor…there is no alternative”.
Somewhere under the rubble of Berlin, the lost remains of Josef Goebbels are laughing fit to shake the earth under Merkel’s feet.