Unedited version of today’s column published in the Scottish Sun on Sunday 14th April 2013
MAGGIE A ‘CHAMPION OF FREEDOM’ ?
25 years after I first argued with my father about Thatcher, I asked him once again why as a working class man he had voted for her. His answer was no different, he was sick of striking, with inflation at 25% before she came to power, the country was on its knees and he just wanted to feed his family.
It caused me to reflect as I watched Labour leaders who trotted out their ‘careful’ tributes to Maggie. Their party had failed to inspire working people and the result was three election victories for Maggie.
As a young man it was easy enough for me to shout down people like my dad as ‘scabs’, but 25 years later with hindsight the destruction of communities was as much the fault of a spineless Neil Kinnock and a rotten trade union leadership for failing to resist, as it was of Margaret Thatcher.
On Maggie’s ‘watch’- Banks were deregulated, unemployment reached record levels; Public utilities were looted and privatised; Overnight she turned industrial heartlands into ghost towns. The hated Poll Tax was imposed on Scotland one year before the rest;
Loyalist paramilitaries colluded with the state to murder Catholics; The police were used as her personal army to wage war on the miners so that no others would dare to resist again.
But what did Labour do to stop her? I have no nostalgia for Maggie, but with her death I am sick of politicians who cherish her ‘conviction’ politics yet won’t fight for their own ideals.
Nor is it a time to allow Tory Grandees to rewrite her history. Her incompetent Government secretly offered to hand over “sovereignty of the Falkland islands less than two years before the invasion” giving the impression that they were not interested in the Islands.
On her orders a British submarine sunk the Belgrano cruiser, 25 miles outside the 200 mile exclusion zone as it sailed away, killing 323 mainly young sea cadets. The loss of 255 British soldiers and 649 Argentines was the price of ‘incompetence’.
Champion of Freedom?
As Shirley Bassey, the Queen and 2000 others join the ranks of mourners, we should not forget that various Dictators, whom Maggie counted as ‘good friends’ would have been there too, had they not been overthrown or dead.
She supported Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge who murdered 3 million in Cambodia, the Shah of Iran, Egypt’s Mubarak, Pakistan’s General Zia and opposed worldwide anti-apartheid sanctions on S.Africa as a ‘crime against free trade’ calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist.
Her husband Denis just happened to have huge investments in Apartheid S. Africa. The Commonwealth accused her of “worshipping gold, platinum and the rest” as young Tories wore ‘Hang Mandela’ badges
She described General Suharto of Indonesia as “One of our very best and most valuable friends” whilst he engaged in the massacre of 1 million people with British supplied Heckler & Koch machine guns and riot control vehicles. East Timorese villages were bombed by British supplied Hawk aircraft financed by the British taxpayer as ‘the arms industry reaped the profits’.
General Pinochet, her favourite Dictator ironically took power Chile on 9/11 1973, murdering and torturing 100,000 people over a 17 year period. And what of the Daddy of all Dictators?
Last month marked the 25th anniversary of a deadly chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein that killed over 5,000 Kurds in Halabja. She supplied him with weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s and then denied their use in Parliament. One month after Halabja ministers were sent to bribe him with £340 million of export credits on top of £1 billion he had already got from her.
For those who turn out on Wednesday to mourn her, maybe it would be more appropriate to remember the victims of this ‘Champion of Freedom’ and for Labour to remember what it once meant to them to have beliefs worth fighting for.
THE UNSAVOURY MARK THATCHER
Sir Mark Thatcher had his own unsavoury history. Sent to Apartheid S. Africa for work experience, he left school with 3 O-levels, having failed his accountancy exams three times he used his mother’s name to open doors for him.
She boasted ‘he could sell sand to the Arabs’ and he amassed an estimated personal fortune of £60 million. Investigated as a ‘loan shark’, he left S. Africa on receiving a 4 year suspended jail sentence in 2005 for his part in a failed military coup in Equatorial Guinea.
Even Monaco a haven for shady businessmen refused to renew his visa along with the U.S.A refusing him residency. An unpleasant smell has always followed this man, who traded on his mother’s name.
Sir Bernard Ingham-Thatcher’s Press Secretary best summed up what everyone thought of him, when Mark asked what he could do to help his mum win the 1987 General Election, Sir Bernard replied “leave the country”.