Thatcher is dead, but Thatcherism lives on

Margaret Thatcher tries the peace sign. You’re right, it doesn’t suit her.

And so it came to pass – finally got to change their home page from “No” to “Yes”.

Many people – republicans, socialists, communists, Argentinians, Irish people, miners and the poor, among many others – have been looking forward to this day.

And when it passes, they will remain unsatisfied – Thatcher may be dead, but her greedy, selfish, anti-state, pro-market politics are thriving like never before.

Thatcher was never a Tory in the true sense of the word. Her ideology was more that of an old-fashioned liberal, complete with Victorian values and a worldview that was equally out of date.

She took over as British prime minister in turbulent times, believing in the power of money and ambition over all else, and that if only people had enough freedom they would all prosper.

To encourage others to believe likewise, she turned people against each other and began the dismantling of the safety nets that had previously set British society apart.

She might be gone, but her policies live on, not least in Ireland where, on the surface at least, she was more hated than most other places in the world.

The Irish may have hated her personally for her handling of Northern Ireland, but we have never been slow to embrace her policies – letting the free market run riot, offering the vulnerable in society the bare minimum and encouraging private enterprise to solve the problems of society using profit as its motivator.

If there was one place where unions are less-respected than in Thatcher’s Britain, it is in Ireland.

Some of this may be due to the ineptitude of the current and past leadership, but much of it is due to a similar passion for freedom and the misguided notion that every man is an island and in control of our own destiny.

As it turns out, we are not. Like it or not, we are all dependent on others to a greater or lesser extent.

Her status as the people’s champion, the prime minister who stuck up for “the little man” was belied by her being in the pockets of the arms industry, of Reagan and of Pinochet.

Deregulation was the order of the day as banks, financiers and traders saw the rules stripped away. She never allowed a deeper understanding of the complex nature of the world to cloud her simplistic view of the freedom to make a living being paramount.

But as the flags fly at half-mast over Whitehall, her legacy lives on in Kildare Street in Dublin, where the elected representatives will still tell you that there is no good to be had from the unions, and that if only everyone is as free to make as much money as they like, then social justice will look after itself.

And they will be as wrong as she was, despite her passing.

And they will continue to be wrong, long, long after she is gone.

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