Random Thoughts: Thatcher’s legacy


Hanl Brown

Staff reporter Aden McClune shares his perspective on various issues in his weekly column, Random Thoughts.

Aden McClune, Staff Reporter

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died nine years ago, and it’s important to analyze her lasting legacy of her time in power and the destruction she wrought on working families and the political turmoil that even her mention brings up. She was so despised by working Britons that even announcements of her death launched impromptu block parties in South London in 2013. Music, beer, and festivities engulfed several neighborhoods, and as reported in the Guardian, one citizen was quoted as celebrating the death of “one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history.” She “presided over a class war,” as explained, and several parts of London experienced bouts of protests and rioting over her rule.

But why do so many people hate Thatcher? There are several reasons. One of the most well-known is her annihilation of the steel and coal industry in the North of England and Scotland. Her neoliberal economic reforms privatized key state manufacturing industries and ended their subsidies, and destroyed the power of these unions, and when protests erupted, she sent in hordes of police, culminating in the “Battle of Orgreave,” in which dozens of miners were seriously injured. The destruction of these jobs has a lasting impact. Similar to the steel and mining towns of Appalachia, the North is considerably poorer than the south of England, furthering the already centuries old divide. Many towns are still abandoned, with young people flooding to the cities in the south for work.

The horrific war in the Falklands is also a major reason for her unpopularity. She attempted to reinforce Britain’s imperial legacy and cling on to every last vestige of “imperial glory.” The British still occupy the Falkland Islands today, and like France, or the United States, see no reason to give up their more formal island colonies.

Another reason is her institution of a poll tax. Dubbed the “National Charge,” this ultimately led to her being ousted from power. Highly unpopular, and was instituted in Scotland a full year before England and Wales, this tax was designed to eliminate working-class voters from the liberal democratic political system. Several riots broke out in response, and the overall increasing discontent and unpopularity of both Thatcher and her destructive policies led her to reluctantly resign in 1990.

The Conservative party in Scotland, still hasn’t recovered from Thatcher, and celebrations of her death still continue to this day.