Saturday, 20 April 2013


On Tuesday (16th April), Prime Minister David Cameron admitted to the Today programme that he did not remember much of the 1979 election which brought Thatcher to power. I remember the run up to the 1979 election quite clearly and Election Day with it. Initially I thought this rather odd that Cameron had no recollection of 1979, but, of course he was cocooned from the grim realities of Mrs T and the consequences for what she (and the motley crew of supporters who stood shielded behind her) did as he was no doubt living at the time in a privileged version of Plato's cave.

He went on to say that his earliest memories of Mr’s T were defending the Falkland Islands - a "brave and resolute thing". Fair enough, but, this conveniently overlooks the fact that it was cuts to the Royal Navy pushed through by her government that effectively gave the green light or at least sent the wrong messages to the brutal shambolic military dictatorship then ruling the roost in Argentina.  Cameron went on to say that Mrs T was on the right side of the big arguments, a great moderniser and an extraordinary leader - all pretty subjective concepts to start with. 

The consequences of the clash between dead from the neck up dinosaur like and mostly undemocratic Trade Union leaders and Mr’s T hit home hard and fast in my home as the steel strike and its consequences were played out with redundancy. What followed later after the miners’ strike was years of rundown and neglect which ravaged our valley communities – something which explains why patches of the Valleys and West Wales are still blighted with poverty and unemployment.  

For DC and significant numbers of people on the other side of the Severn Bridge the 1980’s were very different experience, they were certainly pretty grim here. Manufacturing locally was weakened, but, the real damage was done in the early 1990’s as John Major tried to cash in on the peace dividend following the end of the Cold War, I know because | was trying to get a job (with no success) at the time with firm after firm in South Gwent and across the bridge in Bristol. In the end, I ended up going to London for work.

Some twenty years down the line I still struggle to find any degree of impartiality when it comes not towards Mrs T but towards the things that were done in her name. I suspect that across large sections of the UK certainly outside or much of London and the south east many people who saw the scale (and cost) of the funeral will have thought that it was way over the top, especially in times of austerity.

If nothing else this whole episode should reveal how utterly cut off and remote from the lives and experiences of many people in Wales, Scotland and the North and West of England, that David Cameron actually is. Certainly the decision to go full on and formal on a state funeral for Mrs T which was not doubt made long ago will have blown away the tattered remnants of Cameron’s green and caring Conservatism. 

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