MARGARET Thatcher has passed away today, aged 87, following a stroke.
She entered the Houses of Parliament with drive, with ambition, and with a vision that she truly believed would change this country for the better. The daughter of a grocer, and a woman, she is often described as ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ for women in politics. She was the first, and only, female Prime Minister of this country.
Many on the Left joked about having “the champagne on ice” for her passing. Although I despise her politics, I am writing this with a heavy heart. I will not be hypocritical enough to write a gushing tribute, as I disagree profoundly with a lot of what she did. I know enough of my history to know that she was a truly divisive figure, and that many suffered under her leadership. I do not dispute that, nor dismiss it. It is both history, and a legacy, an undercurrent into our current Conservative Party politicians mindset and policies.
Yet Margaret’s death does not change anything.
It does not turn the clock back to May 1979.
It does not undo what has been done.
In this, I am saddened by todays events – not the death of the first female Prime Minister of this country, although this will be in itself a historically significant day – but at the jubilation and exultation displayed by people vulgar enough to celebrate the death of another human being.
A frail, 87 year old woman suffering a stroke, and dying in pain, is not something to rejoice in. She leaves behind her daughter Carole and son Mark, and I hope both have the sense to avoid their Twitter feeds for a week or so to let the trolls crawl back under their bridges.
As one of my friends pointed out as they ‘pulled rank’ on me earlier, I did not live through the Thatcher years. I did not live through the high levels of unemployment, strikes, riots, and social unrest that ensued.
However, now in 2013, the years that I undisputedly am living through, I look around me at high levels of unemployment, strikes, riots, and social unrest.
For those embittered at what they call ‘The Thatcher Legacy’ – ask yourselves, what do you want to see happen in our Great Britain today? The same again? What would you change? What would you do?
As Sure Start childrens centres are closing, as Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments, as the Bedroom Tax uproots people from their homes – what would you change? What would you do? If you hate the contents of the history book so much, why not change it so it doesn’t repeat itself? Or do you intend to die, washing up a tea cup?
To those exultant, even fleetingly, about the death of a frail old woman, I leave you with these words, from the 2011 film ‘The Iron Lady’:
“Watch your thoughts, for they will become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they’ll become habits.
Watch your habits for they will forge your character.
Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.
What we think, we become.”
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe