Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher

Russell Brand's obituary for Margaret Thatcher is a beautiful and incisive piece of writing, and a good example of why he's not just another actor:

When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring – I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was 15. I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning?

I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad. I don't know if they ever voted for her, I don't know if they liked her. My dad, I suspect, did. He had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility – but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant.

As I scan the statements of my memory bank for early deposits (it'd be a kid's memory bank account at a neurological NatWest where you're encouraged to become a greedy little capitalist with an escalating family of porcelain pigs), I see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA. And the miners. And the single mums. The dockers. The poll-tax rioters. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually.

Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off. I didn't know what to think of this fearsome woman.

Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher: 'I always felt sorry for her children' (via @TimMinchin)

(Image: Anti-Margaret Thatcher badge, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dannybirchall's photostream)


  1. When I was in college, many years ago, I remember being impressed by a mention in my psychology class that when rats in contained cages became overpopulated they started becoming abusive and eventually cannibalistic. In the subsequent years, then, the rise of authoritarianism, right-wing hatred, and dysfunctional politics directed at hurting other people rather than helping them has been no surprise.

    And it’s not over–I suspect it’s just beginning. Woe is us..

    1. What a load of arse. The most highly populated areas of every first world country are the most liberal. It’s the people with giant houses in the countryside you have to look out for, same as ever.

      1. I guess, talking the way you do, so politely, you must be from a giant house in the country, then?

        1. Your cynicism about human nature is far more insulting than any silly words I might choose to use. Treat people like rats and they will behave like rats. I would rather believe that our natural inclination to altruism, to being considerate of others and a little fucking optimism for a change will save us from the sociopaths who keep stealing all the power and resources.

          1. up to I looked at the draft ov $6424, I have faith that my mother in law was like they say truly erning money part-time on their apple labtop.. there best friend started doing this for only about 20 months and just now repayed the depts on there home and bourt themselves a Mercedes. I went here.

          2. I also believe our natural tendency is to altruism, but unfortunately the rats do not believe the same.

          3. Unfortunately for your thesis human beings are very different from rats in all the ways that are relevant to this discussion.  For example, rats are not known for charitable giving, community organizing, or rescuing strangers from burning buildings.

    2.  Do you know about Rat Park?

      The response to the Rat Park data from “mainstream science” (if there is such a thing) strongly resembles echolocate chocolate’s response to your own post.

      1. Yes, I read it through twice, and then just stated my opinion. Not trying to “troll” at all, but I did figure the majority here wouldn’t agree. Aside from some cleverly descriptive insults, it just seemed to present Brand’s unevolved teen-aged opinions. And that’s just MY opinion. Man.

        1. Didn’t think you were trolling, I just wondered if you had read the rest of it because of your comment was ironically not insightful about why you didn’t find it insightful.  Hopefully, I’ve shed more insight on my intentions.  ;)

    1. “Well, that wasn’t very insightful, was it?”

      It is hard for me to think this isn’t sarcasm.

  2. I think this sums it up nicely: if you opposed Thatcher’s ideas it was likely because of their lack of compassion, which is really just a word for love. If love is something you cherish, it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one’s enemies.

    1. Completely agree. I don’t understand how some people can complain about her lack of humanity and compassion in the same breath as gleefully celebrating the death of a human being.

      If you need to lower yourself below the level of the thing you’re complaining about in order to make your point, you’re not doing it right.

      1. She’s dead. She can’t feel anything. She caused widespread suffering to living people. No comparison.

          1. This is actually an exact example of one of these left-wing/right-wing value dichotomies of which much has been studied.

            Stereotypically, left-wings folks generally believe that looking after the living is more important than honoring the dead.

        1. And we over here in Sweden had not handled the current financial crisis as good as we have withouth her inspiration during our earlier crisises. Thank you Margaret Thatcher.

          1. Now, that is some concentrated BS. In Sweden, a lot of newly privatized hospitals, schools and various care institutions are currently downgrading their service while simultaneously hemorrhaging money into corporate bonuses and private off shore accounts. It is an utter waste of taxpayer money, like throwing cash down a hole. 
            All because of a wave of badly planned privatization that was made for purely ideological reasons under the guise of necessity. Yeah, thanks, Maggie.

          2. We were reaching the end of the road
            with higher taxes and more public services about 25 years ago while
            previously highly successfull private businesses had a harder time
            competing on the world market.

            UK and US influenced Sweden to reach a
            new political consensus where we tried to create new markets instead
            of increasing the central government power, it had mixed results.

            This included deregulation of finance
            wich probably gave us an economical boom with runaway property
            prices, mostly in commercial properties and a very large bust in
            1990-1994 that were a Sweden-only equivalent to the global 2008
            financial crisis.

            The reaction to this crisis were to
            make our currency free floating with a central bank inflation goal
            and a right to left wing consensus that the government budget must be
            ballanced and have a net surplus over whole high-low economical
            cycles. It were also recogniced that the pension system were
            unballanced and could crash given a future severe economical crisis
            and it were replaced with one that gradually lowers pensions when the
            ecnomy shrinks and raises them when the economie expands instead of
            promising that all is well and run into a brick wall. Pensions were
            automatically lowered in the later stages of the 2008 crisis withouth
            any active political decisions, very unpopular but more humane then a
            system that can crash suddenly.

            The budget ballancing during a severe
            crisis hurt, it must have hurt even more in UK since you seem to have
            been deeper in debt and had larger efficiency problems then Sweden.
            The goal to ballance the budget and save for the next crisis actually
            worked and helped us a lot during the 2008 crisis, we did not have to
            make emergency savings in governmnet servicers and could even
            increase the investments in infrastructure.

            We have also held banks responsibe for
            their own businesses and when they fail are their services bailed out
            by our government while the owners and bond holders get 0 untill it
            is sold back to the market, hopefully with a profit. I hope this
            holds if large banks go belly up, if it dosent will both the left and
            right join hands with the pitch-forks.

            The market creation and liberalism has
            had mixed results.

            We essentially changed to a
            school-check system while the overall trend were worse results,
            especially in hard subjetcs like math.

            We got a mix of new small schools and
            large scale schools chains, few or no new in small municipialities
            and lots in large cities. Some were and are religious, one of the
            very few muslim ones is actually in my own neighbourhood but they all
            have to have the same science education, sex education and so on.
            Some of them are realy good, some are crappy and on average are all
            schools better including the public ones in municipialities where the
            competition is more intense.

            Comparing now and then is made harder
            since our socialist party changed the public schools from being
            government run to being municipiality run and manny municipialities
            are crappy at running schools.

            Care of elderly and people with special
            needs that no one else cares about has been part of the municipiality
            responsibility since before we became a modern democracy. This was
            very easy to expand into a socialism style organisation and it worked
            quite well as long as the organisations were fresh and people were
            enthuiastic with the overall progress. It atrophied and even
            socialists recognized that it were troublesome to both have the union
            people, responsibility for the employees and represent the publics
            needs within the same group of politicians. In my own municipiality
            Linköping we had a consensus that competition were a good idea and
            the municipiality organisation were split into a buing and a
            producing part and companies were invited to bid. This worked realy
            well and costs went down and quality were good or ok and then it
            stagnated. Mistakes were made, the way to handle them with
            bueraucracy were good for large coprorations and bad for small and
            now are we trying to change over from ”fixed service for minimum
            cost” to ”best possible service for a fixed cost” and we are
            trying to make more of it into ”check” systems were everybody
            chooses instead of central municipiality procurement.

            The split up of the governmnet railway
            into a rail owning company, passangare traffic, freight traffic,
            workshops, train-stations and a separate organisation for security
            and control is one of the very mixed ones.

            The new politics lead to a boom in
            railway building and upgrades. (Not big enough but still good)

            The investments in trains in the
            government owned business went down and were too low but since
            municipialities were part of this pseudo market and a couple of
            regions with train friendly municipialities invested in almost ”S
            bahn” we had a boom in regional traffic that spread.

            Splitting trains, workshops and houses
            into separate companies were a terrible inefficient idea that wasted
            manny millions and it has slowly been sorted out by train companies
            building new facilities as train traffic has increased.

            We have not found a good way to share
            the limited track capacity between corporations and since traffic has
            increased a lot its getting worse, some of it would work better if
            there were fewer corporations.

            The healthiest market development has
            been in freight.

            Government and municipiality sales of
            powerplants, district heating systems and electricity grids has
            mostly turned out badly, they sold way too cheap. Such sales has
            almost stopped completely but buing services for the infrastructure
            instead of having all of the work force in house has turned out realy
            well efficency wise. My municipialities infrastructure company
            Tekniska Verken is regularly pruned and smaller businesses that it
            develops by own or political initaitaive are sold to keep it focused
            on the main business of providing us with electricity, water,
            district heating and cooling etc.

            I could go on with more examples but I
            guess I already have shed most readers. These large scale examples
            span the whole era and are ongoing concers.

            To get more good than bad from these
            trends you realy need to create markets and not crony capitalism
            since the the only thing worse then a public monopoly is a private

          3. It should be noted that ranting Magnus over here used to work directly for the conservative free market-fundamentalist minority that is currently governing Sweden through a thoroughly weird coalition government, where the smaller parties just seem to be along for the ride.  So *of course* he thinks his boss is doing the absolute right thing, and *of course* they’re NOT destroying the infrastructure out of pure ideologic spite – that just happens to be a happy side effect of the inevitable measures they have to take. See how nice it all works out?

          4. I am active in municipiality politics
            in Linköping where I am among the people who handle issues regarding
            food safety, health issues like noise, radon gas levels, ventilation
            in public buildings, practical environmental issues like private
            sewage and building permits. Its volonteer work with some benefits
            and they suck since I dont get any compensation for lost income when
            having my own small business. I worked for a couple of years for my
            partis parlamentarians supporting them in farming and environmental
            issues and got chewed at by more career interested people,

            Moderaterna is a right wing party
            moving towards the center in Swedish politics and our official
            buddies are the US Republicas but we are probably to the left of the
            Democrates in practical politics.

            Personal opinions about the party
            leader is probably uninteresting for most readers. What probably is
            more interesting is that we have a fairly well functioning democracy
            with new parties being established and that is good even if roughly
            half of them are crazy or even brown. We also have a consensus
            culture were almost everybode left to right tend to come to the same
            conclusions wich amplifies both good and bad ideas and make it
            possible to reverse realy bad policies. Our opposition is active but could be way better, opposition is good for the decision quality. And we got fairly independent
            and strong municipialities that can have significant differences in
            how they are run.

            I debate far to much on the Internet
            and is well known in environmental, energy and military online
            communities. I enjoy discussions and can actually change my opinion
            about stuff so go on but please be more specific EeyoreX.

            I think it is good for people to hear
            other opinions and what stuff that were bad for them meant for other
            people, for good and bad. Since I have totally different things to
            say then the norm here I figure my comments could be usefull and add
            to BoingBoing.

          5. How was Thatcher an inspiration? Neoliberalism caused the problems and your country took a progressive approach to fixing it. Neoliberals would argue against seizing the financial sector, and would, depending on their brand of right wing ideology either let the financial system crash and harm everybody, or make the taxpayers take over bad debts and let bankers off the hook as we saw in the U.S. and Britain.

          6. We had too much socialism and neoliberalism filtered thru liberals and people that actually wanted a functioning market and opposed by socialists made us a lot of good. Some of it went sour, often when no real market actually were created and some failed totally.

            When failures were attended to we tried to do more of what worked out well with our version of “neo liberalism” and somtheing else with the rest, this fixed some problems and gave us new ones.

            Its not a government responsibility to save the financial sector, its a government responsibility to make the bankruptcies less harmfull by saving the function of failed banks and not their owners. Other more healthy banks can then grow on their own or by buying the leftover bits of the failed bank from the government. We have done this a few times but only with small banks, it did however make wonders with the big banks ability to find additional private capital.

      2. “I don’t understand how some people can complain about her lack of humanity and compassion in the same breath as gleefully celebrating the death of a human being.”

        Because they’re completely different?

          1. And yet, instead of fixing it yourself, you left it for someone else to clean up. What a lovely metaphor for your political ideas.

          2. Use the edit button to open it up and then, in the case of your comment, use the backspace button and the space bar six or seven hundred times to get rid of the line breaks. If you’re going to copy and paste something into the comments, it’s better to type it (or scrub it) in a text program like Notepad with the window at maximum width before you copy/paste. Disqus (which I hope soon to refer to solely in the past tense) turns soft line breaks into hard ones.

      3. Sorry to Godwin, but I’m really curious whether you think it would have been similarly inappropriate to celebrate Hitler’s death in 1945.  I don’t mean to suggest any equivalence between Hitler and Thatcher, I’m just curious how far you’re willing to take this conviction of yours.

        1. I can’t speak for Dom, but where the line resonated with me is that I think people who embrace cruelty don’t understand that the people opposing them aren’t just playing the same game with the same goals.
          People rejoiced Hitler’s death because it meant an end to what he was doing, not because they were gloating over a reversal of fortune that would let them set up their own death camps to exterminate the Germans.

  3. “If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t.”

      1. The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died,
        who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police
        supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the
        end there isn’t. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she
        was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It
        isn’t sad for anyone else.

        Precisely.  I don’t understand why you think polnareff wasn’t agreeing with the statement in context.  There’s no indication otherwise.

  4. Shirts designed for the occasion. 
    Contact if you want one.
    10 quid posted in the UK.

  5. While the news programs prattled on about what a great lady she was, it reminded me so much of what it was like when Reagan died. As if all your sins were erased once you kicked the bucket, and there was nothing left to say but good things.

    I predict it’ll be the same when Dubya’s gone.

    1. Good Lord, yes.  You know, it sounds like England was in worse shape than the U.S., and I’m too young to judge, but…yes, something needed to be done.  Reagan certainly didn’t act alone.  Being a human being, he made mistakes.  Being well-liked and dead, well, it sure seems we need a 12th Commandment: Thou shalt never speak unkindly of Ronald Reagan.

      1. Reagan was seen as a great benefactor, a sort of Santa Claus to conservatives and others who were butthurt by the upheavals of the 1970’s. What he offered was a balm to their doubts and fears in the form of huge tax cuts and vague ponifications about how God wanted us to live. Although they both won their elections overwhelmingly and did many of the same things, Reagan gets away with this beneficent mystique more than Thatcher does. I suspect wording, perhaps.

        (EDIT) That brings up a funny question: if Reagan was a balm for post-Watergate & Vietnam conservatism, what was Dubya a balm for? Spiteful idiots like Rush Limbaugh who couldn’t stand the success of middle-of-the-road liberalism in the 90’s? I guess so, although even they were quick to disown him and his Midas shit-touch as soon as his eight years were up.

        1.  thatcher did not win any of her elections overwhelmingly. a divided opposition and the UK election system allowed her to win even though more people voted against her than voted for her.

          1. The last time any party got over 50% in the popular vote was the Conservatives in 1931, and that was an unusual case. Blair got a large majority in 2005 with little over 1/3 of the vote.

            I wish that more people who object to things like this had voted yes to AV in the referendum.

          2. “The other thing is that Thatcher did get over 50% in 79, 83 and 87, since she only stood in Finchley. Nobody outside of that constituency voted for or against her at all, even if they think they did.”

            I’m not sure why all of a sudden this is an argument.

            Whether or not you’re voting for a party or a person in British politics is beside the point. Chances are VERY VERY good that the person in charge when you vote is the person in charge when the next election comes around.

            Practically speaking you’re voting both for a person and a party. It’s just that on very rare occasions that person might be replaced.

            So I refute your point. People that voted Conservative at that time were also voting for Thatcher. No one was thinking “well I hate Thatcher, but you never know, they might put someone else in charge once they’re in power”. Because that would be insane.

          3. @nathanhornby

            It’s been an argument since people complained about Brown (and Major) becoming unelected Prime Ministers, when they weren’t.

            Maybe it’s a diversion, but our (crap, outdated, utterly unsuited to > 2 Parties system) doesn’t require a popular mandate – good job, since it’s only provided one once, ever.

          4. I’m bored, so I did the maths.

            Since universal suffrage in 1929, we have had 21 General Elections. The largest party averages 43.9% of the vote and 55.8% of the seats, overrepresented by 27.6%.

            Conservatives under Thatcher averaged 42.8% of the vote and 57.4% of the seats (over by 34.2%) – a clear outlier in ’83 (over by 44%). Until you look at Labour under Blair.

            39.7% of vote, 57.4% of seats. Over by 52.3%.

            If you want a cast iron example of a government without popular support, Labour in 97-10 are the ones to look at.

            Fairest are the results in 50, 51 and 55.

          5. “UK electoral system broken and unfair!”

            as we say in the country where i inexplicably took refuge from UK insansity, we would we would say “News at 11!”

    2. Everybody here seems to want to avoid this, but:

      Thatcher was popular. She still is.

      I don’t much like her policies, but I can’t deny that half the country still thinks she was a net positive. She was not a lone tyrant, she was representing their views. Next time you’re out in public in the UK, think to yourself: half these people disagree with me and like Thatcher.

      1. “Next time you’re out in public in the UK, think to yourself: half these people disagree with me and like Thatcher.”
        Haha try that up north.
        Let’s not forget Maggie supported Pol Pot – let me repeat this: when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia (Year Zero) , Mrs Thatcher supported Pol Pot and made sure they kept their seat at the UN. Mrs Thatcher supported a government that eliminated 30% of their population.

        1. Year Zero (1975) was four years before the Vietnamese invaded, and the invasion ended Pol Pot’s mis-rule of Cambodia. Since Thatcher didn’t come to power until the year Pol Pot was deposed, I’m left in utter confusion over what Thatcher did that was bad here.

      2. George Bush was popular too. He won his election. Twice. So remember also that half of America disagrees with you on Bush.
        Mind you, you could apply that same logic to just about any person you choose.

          1. like thatcher, he got roughly half the votes cast both times.

            it makes me ill how people can ever consider 52/48 splits in an election as “decisive”.  if that was a smaller group of people, the obviousness of “half of them sided with …” would be much more clear.

            thatcher never won an absolute majority of the votes. her opposition was divided, so she won. bush at least got the majority on one occasion, and was damn close to it on the other.

          2. In a way 52/48 is pretty decisive when there are only two choices and millions are choosing.  The problem is that nearly every politician, upon being elected, governs to benefit themselves instead of the people.

      3. Stroll up to the bar in any pub, in any former pit / mining town in the UK and spout your popularity theory. You’ll be picking your teeth up off the floor within 5 minutes.

        Did you live through her ‘reign’? Are you in the UK? If the answer to both of these questions is ‘no’, you have no opnion that anyone can consider valid.

        1. Conversely, even if your answer to both questions is yes, your opinion may still be a worthless embarrassment.

          Ex-miners are not the thuggish fuckwits you so desperately want them to be.

          1. “Conversely, even if your answer to both questions is yes, your opinion may still be a worthless embarrassment”

            That’s bollocks. Any opinion formed from personal experience is valid, however extreme it may be. What’s not valid, in this instance, are all the views from external observers castigating people for their open hatred of Thatcher.

            Thuggish fuckwits? You really think that’s what I’m saying about my own class and peers? If that’s the label YOU want to put on us, I’m a thuggish fuckwit too. When you grow up on a council estate, fighting and violence are part of your existence.

          2. I’ve spent many an evening in (former) mining town pubs discussing politics. I still have all my teeth to show for it.

            Perhaps your class and peers are a rather smaller group than you think.

          3. @Stooge

            “I’ve spent many an evening in (former) mining town pubs discussing politics. I still have all my teeth to show for it.”

            But were you talking about how popular Thatcher was? Because the was the actual point – which you seem to be trying hard to miss.

          4. @Nathan Hornby

            Quite possibly, although that wasn’t the point. Tim’s point was that people in former mining communities have such boundless hatred for Thatcher and such poor impulse control that they will assault people who point out that she had widespread popular support. Based on my own experience, I think Tim massively underestimates their intelligence and overestimates their propensity for violence.

          5. Stooge, I bet you a significant chunk of money Tim Green was using a rhetorical device called “hyperbole”.  Look it up if you’re having trouble.

            Saying “How dare you say such things about ex-miners” to someone who has already made clear that ex-miners are his social and cultural milieu is an empty, moralistic distraction from the point that’s actually being made which is that Thatcher is pretty much universally hated among a certain group of people. You’ve said nothing to convince anyone otherwise so the point would seem to stand.

        2. Since you happen to ask – yes, and yes. And no, I don’t like her very much. But no matter how much you might yearn for a society based on violent thuggery, Thatcher was repeatedly elected by popular vote, and still has a wide base of support today. Isolated groups of extreme hate don’t change that. Unless you are willing to get into a fistfight with 50% of the people you meet, I suggest you learn to accept that people disagree.

        1.  I’m not at all sure he was. He ruled by fear. He seized power with a gang of thugs and ruthlessly removed any power from those that might oppose him. There was no way to show opposition to Hitler whilst still maintaining safety. He was popular only insofar as he lacked opponents. There is no comparison to the UK in the 1980s, where despite all the rhetoric, democracy (in some sense) still ruled.

          1.  Actually, if you listen to his speeches in a language you can understand, you’ll hear that the angry sounding stuff was moving, inspirational stuff.

            Hitler didn’t rule by fear. He was democratically elected and told everyone he was working for a better society.

            Many Germans were ignorant of the stuff they should have feared.

        2. Somebody chose them. A lot of somebody. Unless you have a system where anybody can just show up at 8AM and say, “All right, I’m the PM now,” you can’t pretend that they acted alone. 

          Not that YOU did necessarily, but a few people on this thread tired to make a point that Thatcher’s policies happened in the first place because they had support other than just Maggie’s Implacable Will, which is absolutely true. Quibbling over how the election results came about has no bearing on the fact that England has a hefty share of reactionaries, just like America. 

          1. I’m not saying that, I’m saying you get what *somebody* voted for. That’s true even under the British system, I think.

            Or I could be wrong. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

        3. The comment I was replying to was complaining about all the people saying how great she was. I was observing that this is in fact how a large portion of the population feels. It is not illegitimate for those people to air their views. I’m not one of them, but I respect their opinion.

      4. Many of the people who originally would have voted for her are, let’s be blunt, dead now. She was popular with older voters at a time when Labour was as adrift as it is now.

    3. Go and mention Dubya’s name on Reddit.

      It’s already happened.

      Now people just talk about how he’s a ‘normal guy’ who’d be great to ‘have a beer with’. It makes me sick.

  6. I can understand people seeking to show Thatcher was a loving partner of Denis, and a loving mother, she may even have been kind to animals. She was a complete bastard politically.

    More to the point, did she make a good stroganoff?

  7. “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” — M. Thatcher

    What am I even supposed to do with that? If those are her terms, why shouldn’t I just be glad that she’s dead and I’m not?

    Yeah, I was right. Wording.

      1. If it’s a misquote, is it based on anything? Usually such things (like Al Gore inventing the Internet) are a perversion of something the person said.

        Or did somebody else say it? If so, I’d begrudge whatever oxygen that person is consuming.

        1. It certainly sounds like her. It accurately sounds like her. Which is why so many attribute it to her.

    1. Her version of The Inbetweeners shouting “bus wankers!” at the people on the bus stop I guess.

  8. I went to school with her grandson for a year in South Africa, must have been around 2003. He was a pretty nice guy, and very funny. I remember feeling so sorry for him as all the Mark Thatcher stuff blew up (so to speak).

  9. Before reading I knew he would pack his drug past into that piece.
    So i’d rather call it: “predictably insightful”

    1. Taking Brand’s “eulogy” in context, the pathos is exactly the point. He’s attacking neoliberalism as based on uncaring cynicism. That’s the thrust of his remark about Thatcher’s opposition and sentiment. And it’s a pretty good argument, one he bolsters with evidence, like sending in the army to roust striking miners. Again, in context, what he’s doing with pathos is clear. He might, for example, say that Thatcher cared so much so more about money than people that she opposed sanctions on South African on free-market grounds. Myself, I’m not so nice, and say that her appeal to the free-market there was maybe just a beard for racist assent to apartheid.

      1. As a direct profiteer from neoliberalism I would take his criticism with a grain of salt.

        He writes:

        “All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people’s pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful”.

        That is not a fact that is his opinion, no more no less.

        1. Steeevyo writes:

          “That is not a fact, that is his opinion, no more no less.”

          That is not a fact, that is your opinion, no more no less.  Wow, this game is easy to play!

        2. As a direct profiteer from neoliberalism I would take his criticism with a grain of salt.

          Considering the human capacity for ethical rationalization I’d take the criticism as even more credible coming from someone who had directly benefited from neoliberalism.  For similar reasons, I think Slavoj Zizek’s criticisms of communism, socialism, and the left in general are more credible than, say, Limbaugh’s or Coulter’s.

          That is not a fact that is his opinion, no more no less.

          It’s a reasonable opinion that is shared by a great many people and evidence can easily be adduced to support it.

        3. That is not a fact that is his opinion, no more no less.

          Thank you for those spectacularly enlightening words of wisdom.

    1. no, not all prime ministers get a ‘military’ funeral, i think the last one on file was Churchill.

      the governments decision to withhold publishing the costs of the event until after the event (reported by the independent, so therefore, ironically, not so independent) has the unsavory flavor of an Oligarchy mourning the death of one of its own while rubbing salt to the wounds of the exploited poor.

      1. I prefer Frankie Boyle’s plan: give each man, woman, and child in Scotland a shovel so we can dig a hole deep enough to deliver her to Satan personally.
        Seriously though, I don’t like the idea of giving a politician a military funeral. The prime minister is a civilian. All instances of creeping military fetishism (the implication that a ‘military’ funeral is more honourable somehow) are to me, serious danger signs for democracy.

        Arguably Blair got more people killed with his dishonest, illegal war than Thatcher did with the possibly-avoidable conflict in the Falklands, so I guess he deserves a more military funeral than her.

  10. So what about this old Neoliberalism bollocks? The poster girl is dead. If people hated Thatcherism – or Neoliberalism as it’s know globally – as much as they hate Thatcher, they could change the world – especially considering the way it is failing so spectacularly. I worry people will hate the woman, use the public ritual to get it out of their system, and then settle into a cozy chair with a cup of tea and a bit of good old-fashioned Thatcherism. What shall we cut, privatise and de-regulate today?

    Meanwhile, in the rest of the global economy, there are literally billions of people who suffer under Neoliberalism aka. Thatcherism, aka. Reaganomics, aka. Trickle-down economics, aka. Voodoo economics, aka. Milton Friedman, aka. The Chicago School, aka. the Troika… Everyone everywhere is under the boot heel. 

    1. It’s too bad that privatization is so closely linked in everyone’s mind with slashing the welfare state, when really they are conceptually quite distinct–blame it on conservative orthodoxies, I guess. Privatization was in itself probably beneficial in getting the British economy to pick up (competition between privately-funded firms is probably capitalism’s best feature, as argued in this piece by a socialist looking for ways to avoid the problems of command economies), but the really ghoulish part of Thatcher’s legacy was her enthusiasm for ensuring that all those people who lost jobs in the economic restructuring wouldn’t have a decent social safety net to fall back on (which should include not just survival needs but also things like help in training for new jobs). In recent years, some social democracies like Sweden have achieved great economic success with policies that give government less direct power over individual industries (though still plenty of power to regulate for the public good, avoiding health dangers and such), but maintaining the relatively high taxes to support strong welfare states–this is the way to go, I think.

      1. I like how the “Sweden” link you cite in your text connects us to a decade-old paper bearing the mark ” Rough draft; please do not cite”. Today, eight years later, the rushed Swedish privatization experiment has imploded like a rotting cantelope.

        1. Most academic papers available online are preprints of some kind (no one wants their preprints to be cited), and that was the most detailed discussion I found when doing some quick searching. Do you have a source for the claim that the Swedish economy is currently doing badly? Obviously the whole world economy isn’t in great health, but I was under the impression that Sweden had been doing well in relative terms, in comparison to other European countries. For example, this article from January 2013 says “since the early 1990s its growth rate has outpaced that of other members of the EU-151 and the United States.” And this article from July 2012 says that despite the crisis in the eurozone dragging all those countries down, Sweden is doing comparably much better than Britain, likewise this one from April 2012 compares its economy favorably to Germany’s.

    2. If people hated Thatcherism – or Neoliberalism as it’s know globally – as much as they hate Thatcher, they could change the world – especially considering the way it is failing so spectacularly.

      I’m curious what makes you so optimistic about this.  I see no reason to believe it. Neoliberalism is not failing according to its own criteria for success; just the opposite. And it seems to enjoy a great deal of popular support — many people have been pointing out that Thatcher (like Reagan) was actually quite popular.

  11. I can’t help but think that the UK is more politically engaged than the US (an obvious point, I know). The willingness to discuss all aspects of Thatcher’s reign publicly with both eulogy and anger is something I feel we were denied when Reagan passed away.

    My feelings about Reagan have nothing to do with philosophy or party divides. In those years, I watched my job prospects dry up to a state which would be recognizeable to young people looking for work during this current depression. The Reagan Depression went on for a good decade and is now spoken of only by market historians.

    I watched my best friend lapse into psychosis and institutionalization — followed quickly by his being thrown into the street to pursue full time alcoholism by a now-shuttered institution.

    I watched the only unemployment office in my community be shuttered right alongside the mental institution.

    I have a personal relationship with Ronald Reagan, much in the same way that the folks in the northern coal towns of England have a personal relationship with Margaret Thatcher. You know how they feel about Thatcher. How Americans actually feel about Reagan is just a footnote.

    1.  I can relate — I remember a good friend who went from taking classes at a community college and working part time at a school to living in his car within a few months after his therapist at a community clinic was axed, in the 80’s.  The number of people living on the street ballooned. And that’s to say nothing about all the innocent people in Central America being slaughtered while we funded “Freedom Fighters”. Reagan has a lot to answer for, and he was lionized and sanctified when he died, rather than us facing the facts.

  12.  I think that to really understand what Brand was saying, you’d have to be pretty familiar with that period of British history. I left England just before she was elected (after living there a couple of years). I know from my British friends that she changed the country greatly, in ways that were similar to what happened under Reagan (ie, very detrimental to ordinary people; very beneficial to capitalists).

    If you weren’t familiar with this history, the piece might have seemed like “teen-aged opinions.” If you were, then it was a very insightful piece (just read some of the comments on the Guardian site – even people who state openly that they don’t like Russell Brand are appreciative of his insights).

  13. Pretty pathetic that this is what the UK has now declined to, dancing on the graves of former Prime ministers. I’m not a Tory and I’d rather die than vote for them. But we are all equal in the grave, and frankly it shows just how low the UK has become when one of the few things we can celebrate is the death of someone else. 

    Regardless of what she has done, this celebration of Maggie’s death won’t hurt her one big (because she’s dead), it will however severely hurt her family, who are not to blame for Maggie’s decision as PM.

    I weep for the future of the UK, as much as because of its small minded and petty population as it’s pathetic MPs.

    1. it will however severely hurt her family

      Or it might validate their own feelings about her.

    2. Her family members are probably quite capable of separating their Maggie from the public’s Iron Lady.

      1. Yes, I’m sure they’ll be able to easily ignore the hoards of ***holes cheering “Ding Dong, the witch is dead” at their mother’s funeral. I mean, it’s not like they’re human beings.

        It’s just like Westboro Baptist Church. I mean, everyone loves it when they turn up at a funeral, right?

        1. You think people will actually be interrupting the funeral to cheer “ding dong the witch is dead”? I doubt any of us would care much about the Westboro Baptist Church if they just published articles about their opinions that people could choose to read or ignore.

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