Friday, 19 April 2013

The Gamble

Friday 19th April

Coming to adulthood in 1991, the things I recall about Margaret Thatcher during the 1980's were when the school milk stopped, the Miner's Strike & the Falkland's Conflict. I also remember the power cuts that forced me to eat dinner by candlelight on some nights stopping; and something about a 'Big Bang' in the City.

I recall in the 1980's when my father readied himself for a relocation to the USA pending a 1987 Labour election victory. He remembered all too well the trials of the 1970's and was determined not to experience that again. In the event, the Conservative Party won - again - and the MacLeod family remained in the UK.
Similarly, I remember watching a budget where he noted that Nigel Lawson was the only chancellor he could recall who had actually given him money. I think he was referring to the top-rate tax reduction.

So, it was a fairly 'Maggie Thatch' house at our place, right up towards the end when we watched the leadership contest with baited breath in 1990. I considered Margaret Thatcher to be both a formidable politician & good for the country at the time. Nothing has since diminished that opinion and I was thus sorry to hear of her recent demise.

Of course, such a political heavyweight would always have her detractors. With an eleven year run, there were bound to have been good & bad aspects to her governments As a 'political scientist' one can determine pretty easily what they were. But what has been incredible recently though was the manner in which some have celebrated her passing and how long they've held on to their hate. Rather than the inclusive figure that three general election victories might have suggested, the recent weeks have shown just how divisive the legend of Margaret Thatcher has become.

Which brings me to our current Prime Minister. Hot on the heels of the 'Gay Marriage' debate which has all but split the Tory party here in the shires, the Prime Minister appears to have stapled the fortunes of the current Party onto the memory of Maggie ahead of the forthcoming County Council Elections, seemingly in the hope of riding that wave of sympathy to victory on May 3rd.
I suspect that a lot of UKIP supporters are Maggie fans, so without any 'lurching' the Prime Minster thus unites the Party towards the right without any Westminster fall-out, ensuring party loyalty at the polls and similarly reducing the haemmorhaging of membership. Genius. Almost.
Such is the divisiveness of the 'Maggie Legacy', it strikes me as quite a gamble. While the former mining communities are unlikely to ever save the Prime Minister's bacon, lots of 'Mondeo-Men' - those floating voters who ensured those three Tory election victories in the '80's - are unlikely to be fooled in the short term. While the memory remains, the reality for a lot of people is altogether less rosy.

What's important to voters now is not the lasting memory of a former heroine.
It's the economy, stupid.

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