Tony Benn on Margaret Thatcher

April 9, 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.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh 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.

    • http://twitter.com/waterwards 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

      http://uk.news.yahoo.com/thatcher-funeral-most-brits-oppose-paying-032918420.html#Dth3nco

      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! :-)

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh 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.

  • 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…

Latest

  • News Scotland Is Gordon Brown being urged to return to frontline politics?

    Is Gordon Brown being urged to return to frontline politics?

    Gordon Brown will today lead the House of Commons debate on granting greater devolution to Scotland. But is he long for this chamber? According to reports, Brown is being urged to take up a major role in the Scottish Labour Party and stand for the Scottish Parliament. Since his much-lauded speech the day before the referendum, Brown has taken an active role in the devolution agenda – even bringing forward a petition calling on politicians to keep the promises they made […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Labour’s housing plans – better, but nowhere near ambitious enough

    Labour’s housing plans – better, but nowhere near ambitious enough

    Today Ed Miliband launches the long-awaited Lyons review, which is intended to outline how Labour would solve the housing crisis and build the homes that Britain needs, to paraphrase a couple of soundbites. But Britain does face a housing crisis. Every year the number of homes that are built is fewer than the number of homes that are needed just to stop the crisis getting worse. Family breakup, more people living on their own and population pressures combine to create an […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Focussing on the rip offs of everyday life would show we’re on the side of ordinary people

    Focussing on the rip offs of everyday life would show we’re on the side of ordinary people

    Recently TfL changed peak times from 6.30am-9.30am to 4.30am-9.30am. I don’t know when or why this happened because there is very little information about it on the website. Perhaps the managers didn’t like commuters disobediently getting tubes before 6.30am in order to buy off-peak tickets. Perhaps they changed the times just because they can. The details are a mystery. I found out about this change because I saw several of my friends complaining about it on Facebook – friends of all […]

    Read more →
  • Comment 5 things that Labour can learn from feminism

    5 things that Labour can learn from feminism

    This post is written by Anya Pearson and Rosie Rogers From UK Feminista, Daughters of Eve to No More Page 3, the new wave of feminism sweeping Britain has left party politics looking beached in comparison. One in four women have answered that they don’t know which party they will vote for in 2015 or else won’t be voting at all, trust in politicians is at an all-time low and policy struggles to offer inspiring solutions to the challenges people face in their daily […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs verdict: No apology is good enough. Freud must go, and he must go today

    PMQs verdict: No apology is good enough. Freud must go, and he must go today

    PMQs returns, and the Labour Party had an ambush waiting for Cameron. A recording from Lord Freud – the despicable welfare minister – saying that disabled people don’t deserve the full minimum wage (and suggesting that they might be paid £2 an hour) dropped only moments before PMQs. Ed Miliband – throat scratching as he delivered his lines without the aid of his voice – croaked as he spoke to the Commons. Yet the strained voice, painful as it sounded, actually seemed […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y