The advice they always give is play the ball, not the man. Or, in this case, the woman. But, in this case, she herself almost gleefully became the ball itself. She cared little for avoiding the rough and tumble of brutally facing down opponents. This video, for example, lays it out all too clearly for those who would care to emulate her style. Be warned if you don’t like her: her ability to perform in the House of Commons was up there with the best – perhaps the very best.
This, meanwhile, shows what the other side thought of her.
Or, perhaps, nihilism was what we all finally came down to.
To be honest, I started out writing this post with the express intention of proving to you that we lived in a country where soft power – that very English sense of fair play – ruled our hearts. But in the light of the three evermore savage videos above, I do wonder if that’s really the case.
Thatcherism in three acts perhaps, laid bare for all to see? For in reality, Thatcherism’s abiding quality was not in its falsely-drummed-up expectations of a free market Nirvana it not only never delivered but, perhaps, never intended to deliver. No. With the evidence contained in these three short videos, we can see that what she provided us all with was a naked reflection of the cruelty that lies beneath our very English inability to give proper vent to our opinions.
We do not essentially believe in fair play. We believe in dominating and ruling others. Our history says this; our Union Flag demonstrates this; our instincts to kowtow to authority prove this. Thatcherism as hard power in a country where soft power generally rules our hearts, we find ourselves suggesting? In reality, soft power never ruled our hearts.
White hunter, black heart. That’s what being an Englander actually means. Even down to the racist subtext such a metaphor employs.
Thatcherism’s achievement wasn’t economic; wasn’t political; wasn’t even social. It was personal – as personal as you could possibly get. It made saying what you thought, simply because it was what you thought, right, clever, witty and – above all – possible. As long as, of course, you knew how to top the opposition.
Thatcherism made point-scoring the point of political debate. She didn’t invent it, but she did exemplify, enshrine and make sacred its value. And ever since she’s died, we’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked up in her dynamics. Her very personal “-ism” reaches massively beyond the grave, precisely because she herself played the man instead of the ball.
Which is what we’ve spent the last week doing. Not because we’re all bad envious lefties but – rather – because, at a human level, we’re all far more like her than we’d ever care to admit.
No escape, folks. Even as the atheist defines themselves in terms of what they are not, so we are condemned to understand ourselves in our rejection of what we despise.
Our own prejudices.
Our own desires.
Our own wish to overthrow.
It doesn’t ennoble us, this hatred; this inability to disentangle. But it does make it easier for us to understand what the future mustn’t be.
I am Thatcher and because of this, I am the least well-placed generation to enable a recovery of our better selves.
This week I will be voting to nominate up to three candidates to go forward in the selection process my local Constituency Labour Party is holding to choose a future parliamentary candidate for Chester. All the candidates I have spoken to or read about are all substantially younger than I am. In times of severe crisis, in times of institutional fracture, this is as it must be. The only solution to the vagaries, infighting, battles and despair of the aged – the kind of internecine conflict the above three videos make all too manifest – is a transcendental renovation from the direction of the young of all our ways of seeing and doing politics.
I am Thatcher but I do not fear the future because I know the young will one day be in charge. And in that despair which comes of failure, that despair I mention above, there is always a sense of hope and excitement that things may one day change.
As someone wisely said, life would be unbearable if it weren’t so unpredictable.
And that, my dear friends, is the crossroads at which we stand right now.