Tony Benn on Margaret Thatcher

9th April, 2013 12:03 pm

There’s a rather poignant piece from Tony Benn on the Margaret Thatcher he knew in today’s Guardian:

“Margaret Thatcher was a very powerful, rightwing force in society. She followed her beliefs and had clear objectives. Her policy was to reverse the trends in modern politics that were made possible by the trade unions being legalised. She decided to eradicate the power of the unions, undermine local government and privatise assets – and these were the three policies of the labour movement.

It was a major attack on democracy and at first it carried some public support, but then it became unstuck, and in the end, it was rejected. But ideas always come back and the modern Tory party is influenced by her ideas.

Although I thought she was wrong, she said what she meant and meant what she said. It was not about style with her; it was substance – I don’t think she listened to spin doctors, she just had a clear idea and followed it through.

I remember her at the funeral of MP Eric Heffer. I was asked to make a speech and as I was waiting, there was someone behind me coughing. It was Mrs Thatcher, and at the end I thanked her for coming and she burst into tears. She had come out of respect for someone whose opinions she disagreed with.”

Both of these politicians are considered to have seen politics (and life) in a black and white way – but this suggests that things are often more complex than that.

  • rekrab

    Looking good TB!!

  • aracataca

    8 million quid of our money is about to be chucked away to pay for her funeral. Harold Wilson (who IMHO was a far better Prime Minister) had an extremely modest funeral with a few friends and family invited to a church service in his beloved Scilly Isles. The ruling class are rubbing our noses in it with this pantomime at public expense.

    • Renie Anjeh

      Woah, woah – Harold Wilson was not as transformative as Thatcher, he was not PM for 11 years and he was not the first female PM. She was a huge public figure and politics should not come into it.

    • dave stone

      Well said, mate. They say there’s no money left but millions can be magicked-up out of nowhere if it’s going to be spent on a Tory cause.

      • aracataca

        8 million that can’t be spent on schools or hospitals or welfare of course. It’s sickening.

  • AlanGiles

    If number of election wins should be the arbiter for expensive public funerals, well, yes Mrs Thatcher did win three elections. So did Blair, so we will have to put him down for one when the sad day comes. BUT – Harold Wilson won FOUR:

    October 1964

    March 1966

    February 1974

    October 1974.

    And he chose to resign himself in March 1976, he wasn’t pushed out by his own party.

    Mrs Thatcher was certainly “transformative” – look at the 146 responses (so far) to the article by Messrs Jarvis and Dugher: that isn’t necessarily transformation for the better – just ask people in the North East, Wales, Scotland, Merseyside and so on.

    • AlanGiles

      I am not saying anything.

      Anything I do say will be taken down and might be revised and used against me in five years time! :-)

    • Renie Anjeh

      Didn’t win four consecutively Alan. Thatcher won three elections in a row – that is something. She had a terrible legacy in the North and Jarvis and Dugher are right to raise it. But she did some good things across the world for eg. Falklands, contribution to the end of the Cold War. She also is a Lady of the Garter, first female PM and longest-serving so I think it would be wrong not to give her some sort of public honour, irrespective of her politics. By the way, Wilson decriminalised homosexuality, brought in equal pay for women and brought in rights for ethnic minorities – not your kind of thing.

      • Rudi Affolter

        She made no contribution to the end of the Cold War, she intensified it with her acceptance of US Cruise missiles and purchase of Trident from the US and vocal attacks on so-called communism. The Cold War was ended by the rebellion of the populations of Eastern Europe and Russia. And the work of the peace movement.

    • Scott S Bevan

      Well said.

  • AlanGiles

    “brought in rights for ethnic minorities – not your kind of thing.”

    Attention seeking again, Mr Anjeh?.

    Be careful you are beginning to revert to your original LL identity. We don’t want that do we?.

    P.S. read any good books lately? :-)

  • Punk Single

    This is a good piece and suggests tolerance is our only way forward not tolerance of greed and inequality but of ideas…


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