10-04-13

Thatcher's death: Thatcher created discord, not harmony

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Unlike Margaret Thatcher, miners believed in society

9 April 2013

Miners were the 'enemy within'. Their communities were targeted for destruction. If there is rejoicing at her death, bear this in mind

In 1984 Britain had 186 working coalmines and approximately 170,000 coalminers. Today we have four coalmines and around 2,000 miners. They lived in close-knit communities built around and based on employment at the local colliery. Miners were a hardy race of people who faced constant danger in the cause of mining coal but underneath that they were caring, sensitive individuals with a commitment to the communities in which they lived. They looked after their old and young as well as those who were ill or infirm.

They built and provided their own welfare facilities and, well before today's welfare state was built, miners created their own welfare systems to alleviate hardship. They rallied around each other when times were hard. They recognised the need for cohesion when at any time disaster could strike a family unit or indeed a whole community. The latest pit to close, Maltby in Yorkshire, still has a death and general purpose fund to help fellow miners and their families in times of hardship. In short, miners believed in society.

These values were the exact opposite of those Margaret Thatcher espoused. For miners, greed was a destructive force, not a force for good. From the valleys of Wales to the far reaches of Scotland, miners were, by and large, socialists by nature but this was tempered by strong Christian beliefs. Thatcher's threat to butcher the mining industry, destroy the fabric of mining communities and in particular the trade union to which miners had a bond of loyalty, was met with the fiercest resistance any government has met in peacetime.

For those miners and their families to be referred to as the "enemy within" by Thatcher was something they would never forgive and, if there is rejoicing at her death in those communities she set out to destroy, it can only be understood against this background.

Miners had always known that eventually any of the colleries would close and were always prepared to accept that as a fact of life and find employment somewhere else within the industry, but Thatcher's attack was wholesale. It was seen for what it was, nothing to do with economics, but purely an attempt to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers by wiping out the entire industry.

Thatcher exposed the sharp edges of class division in Britain and the strike of 1984/5 was as much a clash of values as it was about pit closures. Arthur Scargill and the miners represented the only opposition to the prime minister and her destructive and divisive values and, after the strike, the way was open for the most aggressive neoliberal policies. Thatcher and Reagan went on to facilitate a colossal transfer of wealth from poor to rich, leading to the world economic crash we now witness.

Thatcher was a divisive woman who created discord, not harmony.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/09/margaret-thatcher-miners-society

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Thatcher's death: Party in London

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London neighbourhood throws party on Thatcher's death

9 Apr 2013

London: Hundreds of people took to the main square in Brixton, an area of south London which suffered serious rioting in the 1980s, to celebrate the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
   
Holding notices saying "Rejoice -- Thatcher is dead", around 200 people gathered in the neighbourhood, a hotspot of alternative culture, and toasted her passing by drinking and dancing to hip-hop and reggae songs blaring from sound systems.
   
"I'm very, very pleased. She did so much damage to this country," said one man brandishing an original newspaper billboard from 1990 announcing Thatcher's resignation. Others scrawled "Good Riddance" on the pavement.
   
"We've got the bunting out at home," said Clare Truscott, a woman in her 50s wearing a sparkly beret and holding a homemade sign reading "Ding dong, the witch is dead".
   
"I'm from the north, where there were no jobs, where the industry was rapidly disappearing, and her policies ensured it went more quickly."
   
Brixton was the scene of fierce riots in 1981, two years after Thatcher became prime minister. Carole Roper, a full-time career in her 50s from north London, said: "We're here to celebrate her death."
   
Sipping from a can of beer, she insisted: "I don't think it's vindictive -- it's not so much about the death of Thatcher but what she has done, the policies she introduced to this country.
   
"Compare the coverage to that when Chavez died -- she's being eulogized. It's been wall to wall coverage on the BBC but she did nothing to help the poor people of this country."
   
Meanwhile, in the Scottish city of Glasgow more than 300 people gathered to hold their own impromptu "party". Anti-capitalist campaigners shouted, "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie" while the crowd replied "dead, dead, dead". The crowd also broke into a chorus of "So long, the witch is dead" while drinking champagne.

Thatcher, the controversial "Iron Lady" who dominated a generation of British politics and won international acclaim for helping to end the Cold War, died following a stroke on Monday. She was 87.

http://post.jagran.com/london-neighbourhood-throws-party-on-thatchers-death-1365502295

Photo: Police take action as violence flares with miners at Daw Mill colliery in Warwickshire, UK, in this 1984 file photo. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement. It was also seen as a major political and ideological victory for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party. The miners’ strike ended 28 years ago and there has been no softening of the anger toward Thatcher, according to John Kane, a miner for 37 years and now a guide at the Scottish Mining Museum, south of Edinburgh.