Why don’t Tories get it about Thatcher?

At the weekend I reluctantly agreed to take part in a panel debate at the annual conference of student group People and Planet. I was a last-minute addition to the panel, opposite Green MEP Jean Lambert, Cllr Mark Ramsbottom for the Liberal Democrats and Stuart Penketh, Tory PPC for Ellesmore Port and Neston.

I’ve had a lot to do with People and Planet in the past and am sympathetic to many of their causes, as well as obviously having a handful of off-message views myself on some environmental, international and human rights issues; and was therefore somewhat worried that, on a panel of people who, unlike me, are elected and/or seeking election, I would be held up as ‘the Labour Party representative’, blamed for the Iraq war by the assembled group of lovely lefties in their dreadlocks and chunky Fairtrade knits, and pelted with vegan food. (I like vegan food. I hate to see it wasted. Or flung at me.) More to the point, I’d not had a lot of time to prepare, was winging it a little bit and didn’t feel I was able to give it my best.

Fortunately for me, to make me look better, I had Stuart Penketh. Stuart may not have got the memo about his audience. Possibly the highlight was when he said “you can vote for us, or if you don’t want to, you know where to go”, but personally I really started to enjoy it when, during his first five-minute speech, he talked about the regeneration of the Northwest. By Thatcher.

Now, when Stuart Penketh – Cllr Penketh, I should say – introduced himself to me, rather than giving me his name he simply said “I know Iain Lindley”. (Tories say this to me quite a lot, I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be reassuring or threatening.) One thing Iain Lindley would probably be able to tell him is: you don’t bring up Thatcher before anybody else does. Not unless you’re in a room full of people you know are all, or mostly, other Tories. Certainly not with an audience of polar-bear-loving, direct-action-organising lefties at a conference in the North.

I wasn’t sure whether the audience – many of whom wouldn’t have been born until after Thatcher left office – would react to this with the same animosity that I would have: but a definite chorus of disgust ran over the audience as soon as he said the ‘T’ word, and a young woman from one of the communities in the Northeast destroyed by Thatcher stood up to give Cllr Penketh the berating he had asked for. Unless you’re in a UKIP meeting, the Bullingdon Club or Buckingham, never assume that your audience don’t all still hate Thatcher.

And yet some Tories are still making this assumption. The Tory blogosphere has for the past couple of days been as breathless as a masturbating asthmatic in its manufactured outrage at a rather tasteless joke by Twitter’s undisputed master of tasteless jokes, Cllr Tim ‘slobbering zealots’ Cheetham. The joke was about Thatcher falling down the stairs. It has attracted attention because, amongst other people, Ellie Gellard retweeted the joke, and, quite without meaning to, poor Ellie never fails to bring on Harry Cole‘s breathlessness.

There’s so much wrong with Cole’s latest attempt to get Ellie’s attention, I hardly know where to start.

There are the comments from the equally outraged – “Ellie has crossed a line! She must go!” to which the only answer is…where? She’s already in France. What do they want her to do, unsend the email she sent to the Labour Party a week ago, the only ‘official’ Labour Party role Ellie has (so far) been given?

There’s the ludicrousness (is that a word?) of Tim’s joke being compared to the Tory inanities Cole himself has covered, beautifully illustrated by Julian Swainson‘s Compendium of Tory Tastelessness:

Ann Winterton’s racist jokeTory councillor’s refugee jokeCF member’s Maddie McCann jokeAlan Duncan’s Miss America joke (actually, I was sort of with him on that one)…Liam Fox’s racist, sexist Spice Girls jokeyoung Tories blacking upTory Association Chair’s sexism…another Tory councillor’s sexist, racist jokeYoung Oxford Tory racist jokes…and it goes on like this.

The Tories find it difficult to understand how making a joke about “the woman responsible for years of British misery, tripping down the stairs” isn’t really as bad as a joke about “making all women walk around naked to make Muslims kill themselves”. I’m not really sure what logical knot this Tory is tying himself into, but it’s possible he thinks Baroness Thatcher is a race.

But that’s not even the most stupid bit. The really stupid bit is people like Harry Cole thinking that anyone outside their little circle of twats shares their outrage. The stupid bit is thinking that more than a handful of people in this country think of Baroness Thatcher as a frail, harmless old lady, and not the woman who said there was no such thing as society and did her best to make it true. As Tracey Cheetham has pointed out, it’s Thatcher who owes us an apology. Her being old doesn’t change any of that. A lot of people get old. Nick Griffin and George W. Bush and Simon Cowell may all live to be very old; it won’t change the evil things they did when they were younger. And none of it really compares to making a crack about a skateboard.


31 thoughts on “Why don’t Tories get it about Thatcher?

  1. do your research before you accuse me of hypocrisy.

    the cf maddie expose was my story.

    the oxford racists picked up and slammed on tb.

    called for alan duncan to go on many occasions.

    the others often equally stupid have been condemned.

    1. And I do apologise for not reading your blog quite as thoroughly as you read mine. Rude.

  2. Grace

    The thing about Thatcher is that she is a comic book villain for the left and a comic book hero for the Tories. Having grown up under Mrs T, 5 years of that in the North East, she had a huge influence over my life and understanding of rightwing politics grounded in the promotion of privilege, prejudice and a complete lack of humanity. I wouldn’t be surprised if many children in parts of the UK are brought being told to be good or Mrs Thatcher might get them.

    Cameron is also of the Thatcher generation and in many ways more disturbing as he has the smile and image to hide his real politics.

    1. One of my earliest memories is my Grandad and my uncle talking about Thatcher as we were standing around my uncle’s bonfire. I don’t *think* there was an effigy of her on it at the time…

  3. I was brought up in north Manchester in the 70s and 80s and still have strong memories about Thatcher, as do my younger brothers. Even at my brother’s wedding a few years ago, we were talking to my sister-in-law’s family (all from the North East) about what happened there under Thatcher. I reckon she’s the main reason that I and one brother are both in the Labour Party now.

  4. Err … not a Tory, dear (the badge at the top left of the blog should have given you a clue). I think all of the three main parties are as corrupt, authoritarian, hypocritical, and unfit for office as each other.

    At least you accept it was a tasteless joke. A good one it would have been too if Labourites hadn’t jumped up and down crying ‘sexist’ at Tory Bear. He’s not allowed to be offended but Labour are, have I got that correct?

    1. Oh goodness me, what a classic error. It’s so easy to forget that there are purveyors of right-wing, ignorant tosh outside of the Conservative Party. I do apologise.

      1. Not right wing, either (hence why I omitted to include the ‘right of centre’ TP badge from the blog), but you’re welcome to keep shooting in the dark. πŸ˜‰

      2. Your blog appears to be one long rant about political correctness gone mad, including quotes from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. When something looks an awful lot like a tree, I think you can be forgiven for ignoring the big sign saying ‘this is not a tree’.

  5. And there was me thinking I said hi I’m Stuart before I mentioned Iain.

    The meeting was a leftie meeting but despite the rest of the panel I stayed and chatted to many including being asked to speak in a college in Islington. Quite a few pointed out they were all socialists but said I gave as good as I got, oh and it wasn’t a berating it was factual nonsense Scargill killed the northeat which I told her, but if it helps you to think you won fair enough. At least I’ve been voted in a Northern ward.

    1. No, you didn’t introduce yourself at all in fact, but no worries, you were obviously nervous. I do apologise for disappearing afterwards, I have a few old friends in People and Planet and we went to the pub. Congratulations again on your factual nonsense, there was a lot of it.

  6. Well we’ll leave the electorate to decide, anyway on a nicer note it was nice meeting you, disagreed with you but can’t argue your not passionate about your causes, which is always nice to see

    1. Patronising but polite, that’s half better than most of your party colleagues at any rate…

    1. Eeerrrr. Massive investment in public services, Sure Start, minimum wage, rights for workers. You know. General belief that there is such a thing as society.

      1. massive investment in public services you say? What about the massive deficit (including the largest structural deficit in the G20). Anyone can *spend* money like Brown has, the important thing is what you get for it. Hospitals have barely improved, if at all under Labour and that is despite a tripling of the NHS budget.

        Schools is a similar case – there is little evidence to show children have been improving. What has been happening is exams have simply been getting easier (before you start, I’m an A-level examiner).

        Rights for workers is a moot point, given that most of the laws in that regard are determined in Europe. One of the few things I think Labour actually has done right is kept us out of the working hours directives.

        As for your statement about society. Do you honestly think that the Conservative party doesn’t believe in Society? It’s a pretty juvenile, student style argument to even suggest as much.

        I’ll leave you with this. Britain now has a 180bn GBP budget overspend, equivalent to about 14% of GDP. Of that, somewhere between 8-11% is structural (i.e. not to do with effects of recession). Do you honestly believe that;

        a) getting the country into this mess was good governance?
        b) getting the country out of this mess will not involve simply massive cuts in public spending (or investment, as Labour calls it)
        c) that at the moment, Labour is governing in the best interests of the country, or for purely electoral, partisan purposes.

        Answers on a postcard please.

      2. On a postcard? Sure, send me the address of your bunker. But since news of the global recession (‘this mess’, entirely caused by the Labour Party, isn’t that right?) doesn’t seem to have reached it – nor indeed does anything Mrs. Thatcher said – I’ll bet your poll lead will have narrowed by the time my postcard gets there πŸ˜‰

      3. You are displaying another typical Labour trait – one Gordon Brown also displays. The inability to face up to reality. Instead of answering any of my questions, you’ve instead just been facetious.

        However, today you are in luck. It just so happens I am a betting man. Not least because it isn’t taxed.

        How about we bet, say 100 pounds per % on the polling spread which now stands at 9% in favour of the Tories. We can have the election result as our final result? Labrokes entertain side bets like this, so there really is no reason we can’t settle this *your* way.

        Or you could just answer my (very simple) questions.

        I’m pretty sure I know what your response will be though.

      4. Rightio.

        a) Labour did not ‘get the country into this mess’. There is a global recession on. The recession that happened in the 1990s under the Conservatives, incidentally, was not global.
        b) You have to grow your way out of a recession, not cut your way out. I work in Salford where there are people who haven’t been in work since the aforementioned last recession, and am very pleased that the Labour government has guaranteed employment or training for 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for 12 months. That’s going to cost money, but not as much as a lifetime of JSA. As Ann Pettifor says, public spending pays for itself.
        c) It’s interesting that you think governing in the best interests of the country wouldn’t be a vote-winner. I think people might quite like to vote for a tax on bankers’ bonuses, a National Care Service, guaranteed time with a specialist for anyone who suspects they might have cancer, free childcare for under-2s and so on. Does that mean those things aren’t in the best interests of the country? Is your definition of the country perhaps limited to those people who will benefit from IHT cuts and marriage incentives? …By the way, these are rhetorical questions, I feel you’ve taken up quite enough of my time. If you really must talk to someone about the life of a betting man, I suggest you go here.

  7. ok

    a) the Labour government left us most singularly unprepared for any recession. Despite Brown claiming to have abolished it. This recession has been caused by profligate overspending on credit. Bank lending fuelled it, but those bank profits are what Brown used for his massive spending spree on the state sector. You can’t have it both ways – using the upside then blaming it for causing a recession which we are mired in, worse than anywhere else.

    b) If the country gets back to growth on its highest potential path, we will *still* have a 6% budget deficit, but now our national debt is so much higher, the cost of funding it (which is artifically low at moment because of QE) is increasing. You talk about job creation forgetting that ONLY the private sector is a net tax payer. Public secotr jobs can’t pay for themselves.

    c) Ah yes, soak the rich. Might win votes, but tax takes will inevitably go down, casuing harm to the country. I already pay no tax – it made more financial sense to me to stop work and live on a tax free basis. My brother and two friends have recently moved to Geneva. None of us were even in the new top tax bracket, but already the tax burden is too high. Its even higher on those at the very bottom end of the scale, which is one of Labour’s most disgusting byproducts – it makes more sense for many people to live on benefits rather than work, because of the marginal level of taxation.

    As for all the other soundbites – they aer just that. There is no money to pay for most of these things, and much like a number of Brown’s other schemes, take up will be low or non-existant, or recycled from previous announcements.

    Open your eyes – Labour have been in power for the last 12 years: this is a problem of thie making – not Thatchers.

    (last piece of information for you. Industrial production fell 3.3% under the last Tory government. It has fallen 11% under this Labour government. Who really destroyed the working class jobs you seem so worried about?)

    1. Mmm except that public sector jobs do pay for themselves, don’t they. People get them, and then they pay tax. Except you, of course.

  8. Not the sharpest tool are you.

    By definition, a public sector job is paid out of the public purse. That a part of any public sector pay is sent back to the treasury as tax does not escape or commute the fact that it is the private part of the economy which pays the initial and continuing revenue stream. A policeman, doctor or teacher does not directly pay for him/herself.

    If the below is a reflection of your understanding of economics, frankly, you should be ashamed.

    1. Nope. It’s based on Ann Pettifor’s understanding of economics. She’s an economist who correctly predicted the credit crunch. Forgive me if I defer to her expertise rather than yours.

      Now, I’m not sure if your chosen method for avoiding paying tax consists of sitting at home playing WinkBingo.Com, but as for me I’d better get on with some work. The Labour government donated Β£10 million to my employer in February to help people get advice during the recession, and they don’t pay me to sit here talking to you. It’s been fun, though, thanks for playing…

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