De mortuis nil nisi bonum, A fairly short post then.
As you will by now have heard, Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, died yesterday. Her death has provoked rather unseemly joy in some quarters. Personally, I didn't gloat when Osama bin Laden was killed and I'm not gloating now, though Thatcher did far more to damage Britain than OBL ever did. (Her neoconservative acolyte Blair did more still.)
Mrs T was never as popular in Scotland as in England - indeed, a number of commenters on Radio Scotland over the past day have said that it was her policies that finally drove the Scots to seek devolution and may yet drive them to seek independence. (See also here.) They certainly drove me (living in London at the time) to join the Labour Party, a membership I continued until it abandoned socialism so it could be elected by Middle England Tories. (An abandonment best demonstrated by the complete failure of Blair's "Labour" government, or Brown's after him, to reverse a single piece of Thatcher's anti-trade union legislation during their thirteen years in power.) Her legacy North of the border is so divisive even 23 years after she stepped down that everyone interviewed seemed to be taking the line "One shouldn't speak ill of the dead....BUT......" before explaining just why she had been such a disaster. Even Scottish Conservatives were cautiously distancing themselves from her.
So it doesn't surprise me that a work colleague was alerted to her death by his son texting "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!" I find the idea of her receiving a funeral with full military honours rather tasteless given the deaths her unnecessary war in the Falklands caused (Clausewitz described war as the continuation of diplomacy by other means, but Margaret Thatcher, impatient as ever, skipped the boring diplomacy bit). But there too Blair's vile legacy far exceeds hers, and presumably as a former PM he will get the same treatment. Personally I'd dump his body in a skip and save the cost of the funeral altogether. I think the reason I loathe Blair more than his mentor Thatcher is that at least with Mrs Thatcher you knew what you were getting: she was about ideology, she said so, and she suited the actions to the words. Unlike Blair, she never personally lied to her people or her parliament, she never did anything just in the hope of being liked, and she was a politician of substance rather than style.
Update: I've just read this wonderful piece by Russell Brand in the Guardian, which I think will be hard to better as an epitaph for the Iron Lady.
Further update: Lisa at Rullsenberg Rules has a good piece on Thatcher's legacy and why, despite it, she isn't partying. I particularly liked:
And I will freely admit to being one of those who still think that an early 1990s call for epitaphs for Thatcher's grave was most ably served by the line "Licensed for dancing". It limited the bile whilst still capturing the need to challenge the usual hagiographic memorialising around any public monument to her.
Lisa illustrates her post with a picture of Margaret Thatcher on her wedding day, looking not unattractive in a mumsy kind of way, but wearing an extraordinary ..... well, I'm not sure if it's part of her hat or a weird kind of prehistoric hair extension, but it looks as though an entire packet of cooked spaghetti is unfurling itself down the side of her head.