Born at the fag-end of Callaghan’s Premiership I, unlike some who have recently been emoting vehemently, lived through the Winter of Discontent and all of Baroness Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. Not being a child prodigy, I cannot though claim to have memories of seeing and experiencing much of the events of the time first hand. As for those born after she left office who apparently know so much of what life was like under her, I can only say that I am in awe.
My knowledge of her time – and the events leading up to her 1979 election victory – is the result of what my parents have said and what I have read over the last 20 or so years. I do however know that there is a lot of difference between words on the page and first hand experience.
She was not perfect – no person, especially a politician, ever will be and anyone who seriously claims that they are should be referred to the nearest loony bin ASAP – but so far as my interpretation of her time goes, she left this country in a far better shape economically than it was when she started.
My memories of events in the world around me go back to the mid/late 1980s. I recall my mum watching the wedding of Prince Andrew, I saw Challenger explode on the news and I loved some of the privatisation adverts but I have little memory of almost all of the politics of the day.
Politically the first thing I remember is the Poll Tax and the brouhaha which surrounded it. Although a political disaster for the Conservatives and the policy which triggered Lady Thatcher’s downfall, it is perhaps ironic that my contempt for the hypocrisy of socialism can probably be dated to this time.
Whilst my dislike (and eventual hatred) of tax didn’t begin until I had to start paying it in its most obvious forms (Income, NI, Council) I became aware of its existence as a result of the Community Charge. A flat rate tax with every adult paying the same, my young mind couldn’t, initially, work out why socialists, with their commitment to everyone being treated equally, would object to being taxed equally. It was the eventual realisation that people don’t always mean what they say which allowed me to understand that perhaps socialists don’t like the idea equality in practice – let alone when it applies to them.
RIP Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.