It was necessary for someone to speak clearly about what is happening in an attempt to cash in politically on Thatcher’s passing. Glenda Jackson, Labour MP, did just that and claims that her mail reflected a great majority supported her. She said that her reason for giving this carefully considered speech at this time was to “stop history being rewritten”. Other Labour MPs either stayed away or joined in with tributes. For Jackson and some others like David Winnick, neither course was acceptable,
One of the invited celebrities for the Thatcher funeral show is none other than Tony Blair who has taken the opportunity to press Miliband to repeat history, and the Labour “grandees” like Mandelson and Milburn are joining in. “Labour mustn’t be see as just a protest party” they warn because that’s how they ended up in opposition for years before, until the New Labour project took hold. Absolutely right from the point of view that Labour need clear policies for action. Wrong that the country needs more policies built on the base of Thatcherism. Socialism became a dirty word and avoided by New Labour which proceeded to trash Labour Party basics. “You too can become an entrepreneur and play the games in which you can enrich yourself” without having to join the Tory club. That’s alright for the few – Blair and Mandelson are examples of members of an elite group of multimillionaires indistinguishable from the Tories in behaviour. Miliband has retorted and says he is moving on. Clearly with much caution.
As for Arthur Scargill, as iconic a figure as Thatcher, opportunities to bring out the old lies and distortions pepper the media. Scargill has long refused to comment on Thatcher in interviews. He well understands that the issues are not about personalities but about policies he thought, and still thinks are necessary to deal with Capitalism and its Thatcherite version which cripples us today. His ideas are set out in he policies of the party he leads, the Socialist Labour Party.
It wasn’t just Thatcher that brought us to this catastrophic situation, it was the others who picked up the ball she dropped and ran with it. Privatisation was a mantra for New Labour so the wholesale privatisation of education, health, prisons was well advanced when her successors took over, helped to teir eternal shame by another party, the Liberal Democrats. So Labour will have to take a radically different route of action. A return to the past in adopting the post-war Labour stand by introducing a health service based on guiding principles that still stand as a shining beacon to the world, wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Food for thought:
Mark Thatcher will be chief mourner at his mother’s funeral. He’s not been seen in public or in Britain for many years. Not many other countries want him either. Remember why?
Ken Livingstone on the “Thatcher myths”.