Margaret Thatcher Admitted To Hospital

Illustration for article titled Margaret Thatcher Admitted To Hospital

Former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher (try saying that three times fast) is in the hospital, likely for a few days, for precautionary treatments after coming down with the flu last week. Her son says she's "good, chirpy."


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I'm probably going to regret wading into this discussion, but...

I am pretty sick of the vitriol that is thrown at any mention of the name 'Thatcher'. I don't normally like to discuss party politics on a forum like this (it tends to spiral out of control very quickly), but as someone who doesn't identify as 'left wing' over some issues (I know, shoot me, I'm a soft-centre-right-libertarian), and who doesn't bear this kind of hatred for a public figure, it disgruntles me. I don't recall people pulling out the champagne when Reagan (arguably the closest political comparison to Mrs T) died a few years ago, and yet there are plenty of people bandying around terms like 'hurry up and die already', 'we want to dance on your grave', etc.

Before jumping in with these kind of crass comments, I wish people would consider a couple of things:

1) How much of the opprobrium towards Thatcher was/is based on the notion of her as some kind of 'unnatural' woman, emasculating the men around her and abrogating a traditional notion of femininty that prizes softness and 'caring'? What male politician, regardless of their place on the political spectrum, attracts the same level of spite? E.g. George W. Bush was always unpopular with a large segment of people, but did he ever attract the same kind of death-wish coverage?

2) With all due respect to opposing political views, it's difficult to deny that Thatcher's premiership was, for the first 7-8 years at least, so hugely popular that she won three elections, two of them landslide victories (it's rare for a British PM to win more than 2 on the trot). This was largely on the strength of appealing to aspirational working class people, e.g. by offering council tenants the opportunity to buy their own home (something my own parents took advantage of). There are still plenty of people in Britain today who consider Thatcher up there with Churchill on the 'Greatest PMs' list.

3) The things for which Thatcher has historically been vilified are, in many cases, things which had to be done. Regarding the miners' strike, for example, it was necessary to stockpile coal and let the strikes run their course, otherwise Britain ran a risk of reverting to the union-bullying of the 1970s: perpetual power cuts, rubbish left uncollected and the dead unburied. British coal and steel were simply not economically viable concerns; the unions could not continue to dictate terms to the government. And yes, I do realise the economic impact of all this on mining areas such as the North-West, but what was the alternative? On Ireland - and I say this as someone from N. Ireland, with a mixed Catholic/Protestant background - again, what was the alternative? A hard line had to be taken against terrorism, on both sides.

I say these things as someone who is not from a privileged background at all (comp school, council estate - not your traditional 'Tory toff'), but who has always sympathised with the notion of helping yourself where possible, rather than expecting others to help you unasked. I realise that many people will disagree with my comments, and possibly my political outlook. I hope, at least, that what I've said provides an alternative perspective on the issue.

*ducks to avoid rotten fruit being thrown*