Margaret Thatcher, a former British prime minister died this week. Responses to this news have ranged from rioting, to celebratory parties, to testimonials of admiration, respect and sadness. Rarely is someone vilified and reviled by many, and yet still held up as a pioneer who brought the ‘great’ back into Britain by breaking the power of the unions to hold the country to ransom.
I have no particular political leanings, and I’d describe myself as apathetic. I don’t agree with millions of pounds being spent on a state funeral for her – I think this could be so much better spent across the UK, and that her funeral should be a private family matter. What interests me however is the different public attitudes to the same woman.
I personally recall life in the late 1970s and 1980s. It was amazing at the time that a woman had become prime minister and I for one wondered how this would work out. I recall hoping that she would be like a firm mother who could not only balance the budget but deal with all those other housekeeping jobs that ensure that things keep moving as smoothly they should. I was not disappointed. She had honest intentions and motives – whether or not they were popular – and at least she ‘stood for something’ and her policies offered something new, radical and with direct impact.
She may have seemed more like a cold, critical and stern mother figure than a sweet accommodating and indulgent nanny the public had become used to; and she made it clear that ‘she was not for turning’. She didn’t fit popular female stereotypes as being either sexy or nurturing; if anything she appeared more like a strict headmistress whom you avoided being on the wrong side of. She was a formidable opponent I’m sure.
Children need clear boundaries – if only to fight against. She gave such boundaries to the masses who’d had years of being wooed and spoon-fed by the previous Government. As a human being she surely made mistakes, and was, as are we all, vulnerable to being betrayed and deceived herself too.
There will only ever be very few amongst us who could become real leaders, and even fewer could become outstanding or truly memorable ones.
In life there will always be the hangers-on, the weak-willed, the victims and the indolent. Life’s like that. But to hear that downloads of the tune ‘The wicked witch is dead’ have rocketed since her death – apparently to be played at celebratory parties – strikes me as odd, and very infantile to say the least. It feels like the children who were chastised, made to behave properly, and take responsibility for themselves by the headmistress decades ago; have been using her as someone to blame for their own woes and lack of fulfilment in life. In fact many of these people are too young to have been personally affected by the government that she was the figurehead of; and they are like truculent teenagers rebelling without really understanding why! Sadly some of the most vocal are teachers working with our impressionable youngsters, which I find very disturbing.
Margaret Thatcher was a rare woman in what was the equivalent of a men-only club. She made a difference!
Which begs the question…
What have you contributed to the well-being of others?
What difference have you made?
What could you do to leave your mark upon society?
The news of the death of such a public figure is perhaps a wake up call to us all…to know what we value, what we stand for, and what we do to make a change. I think it was Gandhi who said “be the change you want to see in the world.”