During my Tuesday morning twitter scroll, I was greeted with an unprecedented flurry of bile aimed toward Margaret Thatcher. I immediately concluded it was down to one of two probabilities; She had either, in her dementia ridden state, made some sort of off the cuff bigoted remark or she had died. It was the latter. I always knew the day Thatcher passed would stir up some less than kind sentiments towards the former Prime Minister. I certainly pre-empted a few 'ding dong the witch is dead's and perhaps a cruel caricature or two, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer quantity of maliciousness and venom aimed at a dead woman. Through the onslaught of abuse and jeers, I couldn't help but hope her grieving family were somehow shielded from the growing hysteria. I unfortunately doubt they were.
It is an uncomfortable growing trend, to take the piss out of delicate subjects, especially if they are delicate subjects concerning somebody within the public eye. It is an apparent sign of wry wit I have always found hard to stomach. Pistorious jokes flew thick and fast during his murder trial last February, without a second thought being given to the fact a 29 year old woman had been killed by her boyfriend. Him being an athlete and a legless one, just didn't make this fact any funnier to me. I couldn't care less about how boring it makes me, not seeing see the benefit in cheering the death of a very unpopular ex politician. Of course, I do not expect those less inclined to Thatcher to suddenly speak well of her simply because she has passed. I don't even think we need to feign sadness at her passing, (though I personally find death a generally sad occasion, regardless of who it is in most circumstances). But is there not a happy medium between drafting a loving speech for her funeral and burning an effigy? How about not having anything nice to say so not bothering? People constantly continue to conflate a lack of empathy with intelligence. Disrespecting the dead? Its not big and its not clever. Its just bad taste.
The most irritating thing of all is that those showing the most animosity towards Thatcher appear to be those whose lives she has affected least. The majority of people chugging cider outside The Ritzy in Brixton were trilby wearing hipsters trying to appear as left wing as possible as opposed to disillusioned ex miners. Sure, her changes may have negatively affected the lives of many, but I don't particularly feel its necessarily my place to get out the Cava. Its not only those who she affected in the 80's that I expect to have an aversion to her, but as arrests for damage to property already show, many of those roaming the streets in jubilation are doing so in a bid to come across as politically aware freedom fighters. Yet many interviewed attendees to the street parties were completely unable to articulate exactly what their issue with Thatcher was. How many attendees of the 'Thatcher is dead: LOL' party were even alive in the 80's I wonder?
Margaret Thatcher was 87 when she died and suffering from dementia. The flame haired battle axe everybody loved to hate died years ago. My question is, what exactly has her death changed? The effects of her policies are still felt decades later. Thatcherism lives on and it is completely pointless to begin popping champers as if she was incumbent Prime Minister at the time of her death. Dancing in the streets doesn't change the fact that 3.3 million people were unemployed in 1984. It doesn't provide financial reimbursement for all the affected families and the 28% of children who were considered to be below the poverty line by the time of her resignation. It doesn't provide a DeLorean to travel back in time and distribute milk to kids nationwide. It certainly doesn't change the fact university fees have recently trebled. Her death makes no difference to her legacy.
No matter what our view of what she did, she certainly made a difference- be it for better of worse. Marmite Maggie's death has truly divided a nation. I'm not saying she deserves to be mourned because she was Prime Minister. I'm saying she deserves to be mourned because she is a person, with a grieving family. And if you can't stomach an R.I.P, you shouldn't have to...but you certainly don't have to toast to her death. She changed Britain forever. She remains Britain first and only female Prime Minister, a great achievement albeit by a generally disliked individual. Nobody is expecting her naysayers to cry at the funeral (with anything other than happiness anyway); I just hope they will at least have decency not to egg her coffin. All I have to say is that I sincerely wish her family the best during such a hard time. I just hope its not made much harder than it has to be.