Friday, July 27, 2007

Stand Down Margaret

I sleep walk.

I don't actually sleep walk - I sleep run. I have these dreams where a bomb is about to go off in my flat and I have to get out now. So I get out of bed and run out of the house. These dreams come in different intensities, but at their worst I know I'm about to die, and I'm terrified of that death.*

When I was small I lived in Thatcher's Britain, the Britain of Protect & Survive. I was terrified of bombs. When we moved to New Zealand I was five, and I listed one of my favourite things about this country that their were no bombs.

I don't think my terror dreams come from those years in Britain. I think they're a stress or anxiety response. But I think it's because of Margaret Thatcher and her pals that I dream of bombs. If I lived in different times I might be running from Wolves, or communists. I'd probably be just as scared, but that's small consolation when I can still taste the adrenalin from believing that I was about to burn to death.

As far as Thatcher's casualties go - my experience is nothing. The miners lives weren't ruined in their dreams, they were ruined in reality. While she never dropped a nuclear bomb, she did drop other bombs. Her economic policies led to redundancies and unemployment - those aren't just abstract ideas - they kill people. Poverty kills, hoplessness kills - the year after the miner's strike saw many more than the usual number of suicides. It's not just economic policies either Section 28, passed by the Tories, made it illegal to promote the teaching in state schools "the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

So when someone responds to me posting the lyrics to Merry Christmas Margaret Thatcher with: "Nothing Margaret Thatcher did is worth hoping for her death" - that really depends on what, and who, you value. People have died because of Margaret Thatcher.

I don't think individuals are the driving force for politics, if Thatcher hadn't been there, it would have been someone else. I don't particularly hope for her death any more, she's old and out of power, and probably a little bit out of it anyway. But when she does die you better believe that I'm going to celebrate. I'm going to dig out my parents old anti-Margaret Thatcher t-shirt and put it on, I will play anti-Margaret Thatcher songs all day, and I will write a post on this blog, maybe about Women Against Pit Closures.

My favourite phrase in Solidarity Forever is 'we will break their haughty power'. The power to ruin people's lives by remote control and sit back with a cup of tea is a haughty power indeed. To suggest that people shouldn't be angry about what is done to them, and other people, shouldn't be angry at that haughty power, is telling them their lives don't matter.


  1. Anonymous3:15 am

    I don't know if the Order of the Pheonix is out in NZ yet, but it is clear in the movie that Rowling is parodizing Margaret Thatcher in the character of Dolores Umbridge. I'm not sure if the parody is as clear in the book. Anyway, I found it interesting that Professor Umbridge looks exactly like Thatcher and she is also a professional bitch.

  2. Anonymous8:34 am

    I've had comments like that made to me before, and my response has been "so you absolutely condemn her response to Bobby Sands' death, then?".

    I actually have a 'Thatcher's Dead' playlist which I have been building up since I got this computer. I will totally burn you a CD when it gets a bit bigger.

    But on a serious note, I don't remember as much of Thatcher's Britain as you do - I think my first real political awareness was at the time of the fall of the Berlin wall. But I always knew what a pit wheel that wasn't turning meant. On the day I was born my parents bought a copy of every single newspaper in the shop for me to have a look at, and when I went back to look at them I was furious at the front page of the Express - a striking miner had won some competition through them for a substantial sum of money, and the way they tried to justify giving it to him was gob-smacking - apparently he had not choice but to not go to work because that evil union had closed the pit, and he was only a member of said evil union because it was necessary to keep his job. My parent's decision to leave the city I was born, and loved, was largely so they could get to a place where she had no power, and it turned out to be a place which was thoroughly not good for me to grow up in. But the way it really affected me... my dad always told stories about how he was unemployed and the short term factory jobs he did to get by, and I found them funny. I think at about the age of ten, though, I found a copy of a newspaper in which he had been basically begging for work - it was intended to show the desperation of the unemployed, but for me what it really demonstrated was the humiliation.

    OK, I'm rambling now. Have you read a book called 'Surviving the Blues' edited by Jo Scanlon. It's a collection of stories of mainly working class women reaching adulthood under Thatcher. If not I will lend it to you - I think you'll appreciate.

  3. Now that you mention it carebear, I can totally see what you mean about Umbridge, some of her outfits are spookily familiar. It is out in NZ btw. We get most of the big movies either before (because of the time zones) or at the same time as the UK and USA these days.

    When I was in an organisation that was going through a particularly nasty split I used to take some comfort in the thought that Person X or Y on the other side would die. It wasn't that I actively wished their death, at all, it was more that it was comforting to know that one day they would be gone, and there was nothing they could do about it.

  4. Anonymous11:05 am

    The UK economy was a basketcase thanks to the poicies in place from the War onwards. Thatcher did, much like DOuglas in this country, that whish was necessary - the reforms instituted under her administration laid the framework to trnsform the UK economy into the powerhouse it is today. Easing of the power of the unions and removing protectionist barriers were necessary and key policies of any progressive Government at the time. Without Thatcher the UK today would be about as healthy as the French economy is.


  5. So you think you know how to wipe your own nose
    You think you know how to button your clothes
    You don't know shit if you hadn't already guessed
    You're just a bump on the log of life, 'cause mother knows best

    She tells everybody she was born in a ditch
    She back-combs her hair 'till she looks like a witch
    Wolves in her train, serpents suckle at her breast
    Don't forget to wash behind your ears, 'cause mother knows best

    O you lost your job, well ain't that a shame
    You got nobody but yourself to blame
    You deserve everything you get for such a carelessness
    And don't eat your peas off the knife, 'cause mother knows best

    So your baby's hungry, so your baby's sick
    Don't make babies, that'll do the trick
    Put another string of barbed wire in your little love nest
    It's better than a cardboard box, 'cause mother knows best

    She got a zombie army to serve her well
    She got a thousand bloodhounds from the gates of hell
    She got a hundred black horses with sulphur and coal on their breath
    And she rides the unbelievers down, mother knows best

    She says "Bring me your first-born, and I'll suck their blood
    Bring me your poor, I can trample in the mud
    Bring me your visionaries, I can put out their eyes
    And bring me your scholars, I'll have them all lobotomised,
    'Cause mother knows best

    Mother Knows Best - Richard Thompson. He's not a fan of Margaret Thatcher's.