Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

The Hillsborough Disaster Warnings That Weren’t Heeded – by Rob Atkinson

Hillsborough - an Anfield tribute

Hillsborough – an Anfield tribute

Incredibly, 27 years have flashed past already, since that awful spring day in 1989, when 96 football fans turned up to follow their team towards Wembley – and never came home again. I was one of a paltry 14,915 at Elland Road that day, watching Leeds United eke out a 1-0 home win over Brighton as Sgt. Wilko’s first half-season meandered to an uneventful close. When the news filtered through that there had been “trouble” in the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, the initial reaction was as predictable as it was wide of the mark: “the scousers are at it again.” Heysel was still fresh in the memory, English clubs were still banned from Europe – and nobody judges football fans quite like other football fans (or, at least, so we thought until the Sun got going). We were tolerably certain, as a bunch of Leeds supporters, that the Liverpool fans had caused more bother, and we glumly predicted another indiscriminate backlash that would envelop us all.

As we were on our way out of Elland Road, though, the full, awful impact started to hit home. There were deaths – people had actually died at an English football stadium – something that hadn’t happened on anything like this scale before. Apart from the Bradford fire – a very different disaster – the only comparable event in England had been the Burnden Park tragedy at Bolton, when 33 had lost their lives in a crush at a hopelessly inadequate ground with over 85,000 attending an FA Cup quarter final. That had been well over a generation before, in 1946. Surely, it couldn’t really be happening again, on an even greater scale, in the shiny bright late eighties?

But as we looked on in horror, the TV and radio news brought increasingly sombre statistics while the death toll steadily mounted – and later the sheer ghastliness of the event would be magnified as the tale of criminal incompetence and official negligence was revealed – and as the filthy end of the press, abetted by weaselling functionaries in Government and the Civil Service, jumped on the “blame the fans” bandwagon that other football supporters had vacated as soon as the scale and nature of the catastrophe became apparent.

If you were a Leeds United fan, a chill ran through you when you thought about what had happened; when you realised that this had, indeed, been a disaster waiting to happen. The Hillsborough Stadium was so oriented that the organising authorities found it easier, more convenient, to allocate stands to the fans of opposing semi-finalists based on where the bulk of those fans were travelling from. So, in 1989, Forest got the large Kop End, while the much larger Liverpool contingent were shovelled into the Leppings Lane End behind the opposite goal. It was the same the year before, when the same two teams contested the 1988 semi-final. And, similarly, in 1987, when Coventry of the Midlands faced Leeds United of the North, the greater Leeds numbers found themselves packed tight in Leppings Lane, while the smaller Coventry band enjoyed the wide open spaces on the Hillsborough Kop.

So two years prior to the Hillsborough Disaster, I and thousands of others were packed into the smaller Leppings Lane End on that April the 12th of 1987. The atmosphere was electric; it was United’s first FA Cup semi for ten years and Billy Bremner‘s men had been in terrific form as they challenged for a double of the Cup and promotion to the old Division One. We were jammed in like sardines on that terrace; looking up you could see fans climbing out of the back of the crowd, up over the wall and into the upper tier of the stand where space was more freely available.

Down on the packed terrace, it was swaying, singing fever pitch from before the kick-off right through to the heart-breaking climax of extra time. You weren’t an individual, you were part of a seething mass that moved as one, shouted and sang as one and breathed – when it could – as one. When Leeds scored their two goals, it was mayhem in there – you couldn’t move, you couldn’t breathe, you just bobbed about like a cork on stormy waters, battered by the ecstasy of the crowd, loving it and, at the same time, just a bit worried about where your next gulp of oxygen was coming from. Leeds took the lead early, David Rennie scoring down at the far end. That shattering celebration was topped when, having gone 2-1 behind, Leeds clawed it back right in front of us as Keith Edwards headed an equaliser and the United army exploded with joy. It was the single most jubilant and yet terrifying moment of my life to that point.

Later, after the match was over, as we trailed away despondently from the scene of an heroic defeat, there was time to reflect on what had been an afternoon of highs and lows, with the physical reaction of that epic few hours inside a pressure cooker swiftly setting in. With the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, it’s easy enough now to look back over twenty-nine years and think: “Yes, we were lucky.” Lucky that the incompetence threshold wasn’t passed that day when we were there. Lucky that enough of the terrace fans got into the upper tier to relieve the pressure ever so slightly – was that a factor?  So lucky that it wasn’t us, when it easily could have been. Lucky, ultimately, to be alive and kicking still. The warning signs were there – they just weren’t perceived by those of us – the fans – for whom it had just been another somewhat uncomfortable but thrilling spectator experience. That those signs weren’t recognised or heeded by the people responsible for public safety is a far more damning fact.

Poignantly enough, the luck we’d had that day wasn’t shared by 96 Liverpool supporters two years later. They set off happily, to support their heroes – and, tragically, they never returned. Twenty-seven years on, the wait for justice has been torturous for all concerned. The families and friends left behind, veterans of over a quarter of a century of grief and loss, have never given up their courageous fight, despite cover-ups and official brick walls, despite scurrilous press coverage which reached an obscene and disgusting low point with the Sun – that vanguard of the gutter press – and its sickening lies. 

Now, there is an inquest verdict at last. We have the official findings of unlawful killing and, surely there is finally justice for The 96. And indeed for all of the friends and family they left behind. Yet, even now, with the South Yorkshire Police Force unreservedly accepting the inquest findings, we still have the likes of Thatcher aide Bernard Ingham refusing to apologise for his own scandalous remarks in the wake of the disaster, now utterly discredited as he himself has been. There is no remorse or regret from Ingham, who stands as a symbol of official ignorance and deceit. All he is good for now, this bitter, bigoted old man, is sitting at home and growing his comedy eyebrows.

Twenty-seven years is far too long for anyone bereaved of their loved ones to wait – but justice is worth waiting for, if only so that the dead can sleep more peacefully and the living can have closure of a sort – and move on with the business of being alive. And – as a footnote – how appropriate it would now be if Liverpool FC could go on to win the Europa League after that thrilling victory over Borussia Dortmund – just for the families, the friends and those that were lost on that fateful day and in its aftermath..

There could be no finer or more fitting tribute to The 96, surely, than this long-awaited justice that has been served today – and the return of the Champions League football to Anfield.

Let it be.

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True Cost of Thatcher’s 1983 Election Win to be Revealed??

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Later today, figures on the number of suicides since the early eighties among British armed forces personnel who served in the Falklands Conflict are due to be revealed.  The headline figure on casualties of the fighting is clear cut: 649 on the Argentine side, 255 British and 3 Falkland Islanders for a total of 907 human souls lost over a rocky outcrop or two thousands of miles from the supposed “mother country” UK.  Arguments may well wax and wane over the correctness of Britain’s historical claims to the Falklands, or Malvinas as they are known in Argentina.  A rhetorical question often asked goes along the lines of: how would the British national psyche take it if Jersey or Guernsey, for instance, were to be claimed as sovereign territory by, say, Peru?  It’s a hypothesis that perhaps doesn’t get us far, other than maybe to provide an insight into the sensitivity of feeling over the Falklands/Malvinas issue for the citizens of Argentina.

Thatcher: In Command

Thatcher: In Command

Whatever the true cost in lives of the Falklands conflict, what seems indisputable is that the military operation and its success in terms of objective achieved certainly boosted a Tory administration that had seemed in terminal decline at the time of the Argentine invasion.  It has been alleged that the British Government had prior intelligence of a pending military operation  planned by General Leopoldo Galtieri‘s ruling junta, the implication being that Thatcher’s cabinet saw the political potential of a decision to war-war rather than jaw-jaw, and so elected not to nip the situation in the bud.  The extent of the mess that this government found itself in is difficult to over-state; had they successfully deflected any threat of invasion, or had they launched a diplomatic initiative in the wake of the Argentine occupation, it is doubtful whether the impact on the subsequent general election would have been as great.  Pragmatically, “war” (even an undeclared war) was a better option than “jaw” – or so the conspiracy theory goes.

On the Argentinean side too, there appeared to be significant political advantage to be gained from a successful re-acquisition of Las Malvinas.  The Argentine economy was in an even bigger hole than that of the UK, and the effect of the invasion was a major boost to patriotic sentiment and the consequent short-term popularity – or at least acceptance – of the previously despised junta.  The historical precedent of a convenient war, to arouse jingoistic feelings and a surge in national pride, is there for all to see.  Both sides will have been well aware of the stakes, and a certain amount of brinkmanship may well have been at play.  This was probably more the case on the Argentine side, where it seems likely their military operation was calculated on the basis that the British would have neither the will not the logistical capability to mount a response in kind over such a long distance with all the problems of cost, supply lines and communications.  In the UK, the swiftness with which that response actually materialised was a tell-tale sign that Thatcher’s government were not only willing, but eager to launch the most emphatic counter-strike possible, and the fervour with which the public hailed the departing task force was a massive encouragement to the hastily-assembled War Cabinet.

The Sun's Perspective

The Sun’s Perspective

The attitude on the part of the British forces seems throughout to have been one of belligerent determination and ruthlessness.  Despite the problems of distance (mitigated to a large extent by the availability of the strategically-located Ascension Island as a stopping-off point), the task force had the inestimable advantage of its professional make-up; the troops were regulars, hardened pros, and many feared for the fate of the Argentinean rag-bag of conscripts should they ever meet in direct combat.  In the event, the Argentine forces fought bravely and effectively, leading to unexpectedly bloody and costly land engagements such as the Battle of Goose Green.  The conflict as a whole was more a series of sharp engagements on land, at sea and in the air, than any drawn-out and attritional process.  British naval losses were significant – the attack on HMS Sheffield following hard on the heels of the notorious action to sink the ARA General Belgrano.  Both sides were being hard-pressed to hold their political nerve in the face of dramatic losses such as these.

In the end, of course, there could only be one winner and the likelihood all along was that the British forces, superior in training and equipment even though stretched logistically over such a vast distance, would succeed in re-taking the islands.  So it proved, but at a tragic cost on both sides in terms of lives lost.  The die had been cast right from the start in that the losing side would almost inevitably see political change in the wake of the conflict and many now view this, from the perspective of over thirty years, as a calculated risk on the part of both governments concerned.  The determination to press ahead with military action and the relative marginalisation of the United Nations in the matter speaks of a strong political resolve on either side, and the results are clear to see; Galtieri was removed from power in January 1983, whereas Thatcher received an immense boost in the polls, and this “Falklands Factor” saw her sweep to victory with a landslide later that same year.  The monetarist Tory government was not, after all, destined to be a one-term experiment as had seemed so likely prior to 1982.  The course was well and truly set and the old-style of government, with full employment at the root of all its thinking, was consigned to history.  Thatcher may have been the economic disciple of Keith Joseph, but she showed the survival instincts of a polecat to go with her determination to make Monetarism work and banish old-style Socialism.  From that perspective, the loss of a few hundred lives in the South Atlantic may well have been considered expedient against the probability of electoral defeat and a return to what she will have thought of as the economics of disaster.

Thatcher was the big winner in the Falklands conflict.  It has been posited since that a great saving, in terms of money and human lives, could have been effected by ceding the territory to Argentina and providing each islander with a bounty of £1 million and a villa in the South of France.  This is, of course, a simplistic hypothesis, but the numbers certainly add up.  The British government of the day could not contemplate what they would have seen as a craven climb-down, with a devastating effect on how the UK was seen in the eyes of the world.  To this day, pro-Thatcher apologists refer to the way she “made Britain great again” or similarly extravagant claims.

Simon Weston OBE

Simon Weston OBE

It is notable in this context that one of the most fulsome tributes paid to the late PM, after her death in April this year, was from Welsh Guards veteran Simon Weston OBE who famously suffered extensive burn injuries during the Falklands campaign in the attack on RMS Sir Galahad. Weston is now seen as an inspirational figure for his recovery from his injuries and his charity work, and his endorsement of Thatcher’s premiership was seen as a powerful vindication of her policies, particularly where the Falklands issue was concerned.

What appears absolutely certain is that Thatcher gained herself an extra seven years she would not otherwise have had, to advance her own agenda, and change the face of Britain forever.  Whether you regard the number of lives lost as a price worth paying for that will depend, naturally, on your own political convictions.  But it may be worth noting, later today, just how high that price was when those official Falklands-related suicide figures are finally released.  At a time when our government today is starting to pile up the body count as people take a drastically simple way out of the world being foisted on them, we may reflect on this depressing tendency of governments to view individuals as mere political pawns or economic units, rather than people imbued with a spark of life and the right to an existence outside of macro political considerations.  Life should be seen as far too precious to end up as a statistic of the battle to stay in power.

Thatcher & Fergie – Unlikely Bedfellows

Two Media Darlings

Two Media Darlings

It’s been an awkwardly stomach-churning day for any self-respecting Man U-hater with anything but the most robust of digestive systems.  The output of Sky TV and BBC Radio Five Live in the wake of the Govan Guv’nor’s resignation as Supremo at the Theatre of Hollow Myths has been wall-to-wall, sickly sweet revisionist nonsense.  It was perhaps predictable – Man U seem to attract this kind of attention quite regularly.  They hypocritically call Liverpool the “City of Pity” and “Shrine Worshipers”, and yet there was the cloying sentimentality of the Lone Piper at Old Trafford when Busby died, and of course there is the nauseatingly poorly-written “Flowers of Manchester” doggerel recycled every February 6th when the Man U Marketing Machine gears itself up for the annual “Let’s Make More Money Out of Munich” event.  The treatment of Man U in the media has a lot in common with the ingestion of a copious draught of heavily-salted water.  Both are pretty much guaranteed to make you sick.

For some of us, it’s only been a couple of short weeks recovery time since the last bilious attack brought on by an onslaught of gushing praise for a much-hated public figure.  To listen to the BBC’s output in the wake of Maggie Thatcher’s death, you’d think she was universally acknowledged as a saint who personally saved our country from the hordes of infidel savagery, instead of a humourless and uncaring woman who presided over the decimation of manufacturing industry and created an underclass of unemployed dole fodder.

Ironically, that assessment of Thatcher – the realistic one, not the BBC’s rose-tinted, soft-focus blarney – would almost certainly strike a chord with Ferguson, a man who has always made much of his Socialist roots.  And yet the fulsomely worshipful bilge poured all over her death and funeral has been rivalled today both in flavour and quantity as various media outlets have sought to paint a picture of “Fergie the Greatest”, conveniently ignoring the essential character of the man, which is that of a coarse bully and a ruthlessly competitive control-freak who would brook no opposition and practiced suppression of dissenting voices on a grand scale as well as nepotism, intimidation and other deeply unattractive tactics.  Ferguson and Thatcher operated in vastly different spheres, and pursued their objectives in vastly different ways, although the objectionable single-mindedness and refusal to acknowledge any other point of view was common to both.

It is arguable too that both shared a similarly dislikeable personal character and yet that both represented vested interests which have caused a complaisant media and establishment to bend over backwards in their efforts to hide these unfortunate facts.  However difficult they both were to handle at different times – Ferguson famously “banned” the BBC from his personal airspace for an extended period, claiming in a juvenile fit of petulance that the Corporation was “pro-Liverpool”, and objecting to their focus on the activities of his shady agent son Jason – the media still fall over themselves to praise both to the skies.  Powerful interests are at work here, rigid agendas are being pursued.

Ferguson will not relish any comparison with the Iron Lady, and yet such comparisons are irresistible.  Nepotism, for instance.  Thatcher was accused in many quarters of using her influence to smooth the path to riches of her not-outstandingly-bright son Mark, a man who would seem to have difficulty finding his way out of an open box.  Ferguson allegedly pushed the services of Agent Jason on young players at Man U and reacted with fury if the lad in question went elsewhere.  When his fledgling manager son Darren was sacked by his employers after his latest relegation, Fergie senior reacted by recalling two young Man U players who had been at that club on loan.  The similarities in modus operandi for Fergie and Thatch abound.

It is for the gross and over-the-top way in which both have been virtually canonised by the media in the wake of their exit from the stage that really sticks in the throat, however.  The tasteless extent of it, the gushing, nauseatingly deferential tone of the ubiquitous tributes, strike a remarkably similar tone in either instance.  In Thatcher’s case, the masses thus appeased were the blue-rinse brigade and their Colonel Blimp husbands, Tories to their last cell, and voraciously hungry for any news coverage to confirm their view that la Thatch was the greatest since Churchill, the greatest peacetime leader ever.  The claims of Clement Attlee, the authentic greatest PM ever, were callously overlooked, as was the fact that his funeral in 1967 was a quiet and dignified affair.  In the case of Ferguson, the masses are of course the legions of Man U fans all over the world and in Torquay and Milton Keynes in particular, who have been fed the myth of Man U being the greatest club in the world (Arf!) and who now wish to hear Fergie being called the greatest, against the claims of true greats like Busby, Revie, Shankly and the rest, proper managers who had to do it all on a level playing field and not the Sky-weighted Man U-centric environment we have now.

Radio Five Live are still at it, as I listen.  We go “back to Old Trafford” on a regular basis, to listen to the hushed tones of a reverential reporter, laying it on thick for the benefit of the thick.  It’s all so remarkably similar to the nonsense we all suffered in the wake of Thatcher’s passing.  Perhaps, for Ferguson, that is the unkindest cut of all.

Our Greatest Prime Minister

Today, Wednesday 17 April, as the late Margaret Thatcher is finally laid to rest; let us take a minute to observe a respectful silence and remember the life and achievements of undeniably the greatest peacetime Prime Minister of the last century (and some argue with justification the greatest British Premier ever). Radical and reforming, taking on the reins of power after a period of national crisis when, at times, all seemed lost, the beneficial impact of this pioneering administration on UK politics, and on the country as a whole, remained undiminished 30 years on. This was a Prime Minister with a vision, and the courage and determination to see it come to fruition, something we all have cause to be thankful for even now.

What is more, this was a Prime Minister who can quite fairly be said to have saved this country in hard times when all was chaos and confusion, from enemies without and within; a pivotal and inspirational figure when conflict raged, and an outstanding leader and innovator in times of peace; someone who dared against all precedent to think outside of hidebound tradition and vested interests, and who managed to find a gloriously better way.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Britons all, the toast is to our Greatest Prime Minister, with all the thanks and deep, abiding respect due to a national hero. I give you:-

Clement Richard Attlee,
1st Earl Attlee
(3 Jan 1883 – 8 Oct 1967)

Oh and – bye, Thatch.

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In Memoriam: Margaret Hilda Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

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HM Maggie the Thatch

An evil old woman was Thatcher
For cruelty you just couldn’t match ‘er
She said she’d not turn
But now she can burn
For the Reaper has managed to catch ‘er

After Thatcher – What Does Her Death and Her Legacy Mean To Us Now?

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Thatcher: 1925 – 2013

I’ve left it nearly a week after the death of the former Leaderene to chip in with my two penn’orth on her demise, and on the legacy she’s left behind. In that time, I’ve read many and varied accounts of what Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s death means to us, here and now – given that her term of office ended nearly 23 years ago. Those accounts have encompassed widely varying points of view, and have ranged from vitriolic hatred with a joyous celebration of the fact that she’s gone, to real grief arising out of sheer adulation and an evident belief that she was some sort of Messiah for our country.

My own position lies at neither extreme, but somewhere in between – though I will freely admit that I lean significantly towards that end of the scale where people do not have much positive to say about the late former Prime Minister. For what it’s worth, I feel that she was a divisive and damaging influence on the country; indeed such a massive effect did she have on the political and economic landscape, that we simply no longer have the options – in terms of achieving increased fairness in society – that we potentially had before she entered Number 10. She greatly reduced – in fact almost destroyed – the manufacturing industry in this country, advancing the cause of financial services and speculative banking to take its place as the main means of wealth creation. She sold off a large proportion of the social housing stock and failed to invest in construction to replenish it, thus creating a shortage of homes for the less well-off at reasonable rent levels, and forcing a greater reliance on private landlords, with rent levels being set by the market. The long term consequence of THAT was an exponential growth in the Housing Benefits bill, which has led in turn (in these times of austerity) to the perceived need for the Government’s unpopular “Bedroom Tax”. Even though it’s nearly 23 years since Thatcher left Number 10 for the last time as PM, tear-stained but defiant, her legacy affects us to this day, regardless of what they might say who would defend her with the specious “Well, it was all a long time ago.”

Those who still idolise her seem to do so for reasons which would appear not unadjacent to self-interest. Former footballer Paul Parker has blogged:

“Personally, I don’t see why football shouldn’t pay respect to Thatcher. She should be given a minute’s silence at football grounds because without Margaret Thatcher my mum and dad would have never been able to buy a house.”

Presumably, Parker is including in his rationale thousands of others besides his mum and dad, who were also given the opportunity to buy their council houses, many at hefty discounts. But the theme of “well, she was wonderful because, hey – look what she did for me” is a recurrent one among those who remember her most fondly. Parker goes on to say:

“At the end of the day, she was the Primer (sic) Minister of Great Britain so there should be a minute’s silence as far as I’m concerned.”

He doesn’t elaborate on his views as to whether or not Heath, Wilson or Callaghan should have been so honoured (they weren’t) – but I suspect his devotion is to The Lady alone – and good defender though he might have been, Parker is clearly not a cerebral heavyweight.

The other end of the scale is represented (at its extreme) by people who felt moved to dance in the streets in celebration, and contribute to a surge up the music charts for “Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead” by Judy Garland. Yes, I bought it too. Sue me. Rather than simply bemoaning human nature for these displays of jubilation at the death of a bewildered old woman, it would perhaps serve us better to re-examine some other factors lying behind such hatred.

Quite apart from the policies I’ve referred to above, it’s also possible to find fault in what might be termed Thatcher’s unfortunate personal style. Early in her long stint as leader of the Tories, she was taking elocution lessons to modulate her slightly shrill voice, but the effect was of suburban faux gentility, with a teeth-grindingly patronising edge, rather than anything persuasive or statesmanlike. She was ironically at her most effective when she became strident, as she often did when faced with anything other than unquestioning agreement and obedience; then, she simply blew everything but the most determined opposition clear out of the water, terrifying male colleagues with smaller, less hairy balls than hers, and encouraging cowed Soviets to dub her the “Iron Lady”. She was also referred to as “The Iron Chicken” and “Attila the Hen”.

Still others who remember her less than fondly will recall that she was in very real danger of becoming just another one-term PM, and the least popular ever at that, when an opportune military conflict with Argentina cropped up in 1982. The summer of ’81 had seen a wave of riots as her policies saw unemployment rise sharply, seemingly a price her government was willing to pay for the economic direction it was so rigidly set on. Thatcher was in trouble at this point, trailing massively in the polls, but as a result of the “Falklands Factor” she won a landslide in 1983. Then the miners were unwise enough to take her on in the middle of the decade, pronouncing themselves determined to bring her government down. But Thatcher was wise to them; she had learned from Edward Heath’s mistakes in the early 70’s and had stockpiled enough coal to, in effect, starve the pit-men back to work – albeit with much human suffering and collateral damage, not least on the picket-lines at Orgreave and elsewhere. It was a humiliating defeat for miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, but – whatever you may think about him – his prediction that the Tories were out to kill the mining industry, along with its close-knit and long-standing communities, proved to be spot-on. Relatively fresh from subduing Scargill and his followers, Thatcher won again in 1987, and would eventually occupy the office of PM for over eleven years. In the end, it took her own colleagues to remove her in a coup that she ever after thought of as the basest treachery. But the fact remains that she clung on to power despite profound levels of unpopularity, aided in her latter two election victories by what many still see as naked opportunism and the survival instincts of a mongoose.

Some would seek to defend her place in history as the first – and to date only – female Prime Minister. Even I might be tempted to support a historical achievement such as that – if she had done more for women whilst in power. But she didn’t. Her Cabinet composition remained predominantly male, and you can search throughout her record for anything of note to ameliorate the lot of women in society, but you will search in vain. Glenda Jackson, speaking in the so-called “Tribute Debate” two days after Thatcher’s death, conceded the fact that Thatcher was Britain’s first female Premier but added: ‘A woman? Not on my terms.’

When push comes to shove, I would argue that Thatcher’s legacy is an almost wholly negative one; her Premiership saw a massive rise in unemployment, the decimation of manufacturing industry, a bizarre promotion of greed and acquisitiveness as hideously acceptable virtues, a decrease in growth relative to the previous thirty-four years since Clement Attlee became Prime Minister in 1945, a widening of the gap between richest and poorest where that gap had been narrowing somewhat and of course the selling-off of “the family jewels” in the shape of any nationalised industry she could lay her hands on, without sufficient regard to what would happen come the next rainy day. And there have been many rainy days since, but none rainier than the one we’re living through right now, and nothing to fall back on.

Against that, we have the perceived rise in the stock of the UK in the eyes of the rest of the world; she “made Britain great again” – some say. This presumably refers to her determination in recovering a few large pebbles in the South Atlantic at the cost of many young lives, including those of conscript Argentinians who drowned when the General Belgrano was torpedoed as it sailed away from the combat zone. “Gotcha!” crowed the Sun, while mothers of sons on both sides wept. I have to say, I don’t value an enhanced international reputation or the approval of jingoistic nations like the USA – not at that price.

And now we have to pay the cost of her funeral, having already shelled out many thousands in expenses for a one-off recall of Parliament only five days before a new session was due to start anyway. Funeral cost estimates vary between £8m and £14m depending on who you listen to, and how much her successful arms-dealer son Mark is prepared to stump up. He should really be generous – she helped him a hell of a lot. All this furore over money, at a time also when we hear her £6m London town house will not incur any inheritance duty as its actual ownership appears to be vested in an offshore company. Companies, of course, don’t die – and so don’t pay inheritance tax. These are murky waters, and it becomes ever easier to see exactly why so many regard her, and the goings-on around her in life and afterwards, with feelings of antipathy amounting to loathing.

For myself, I’ll be glad when her funeral is over and paid for, and we can all move on – and refocus on the urgent need to get rid of the current shoddy lot. Thatcher is dead; but we’re still living with a society that, in a lot of its negative characteristics can be traced back to the sea-changes she ushered in post-1979. It’s no defence against vilification to say that she left office in 1990, and can’t be blamed for what’s happened since. She created the conditions whereby what has happened since could happen, and she took away a lot of the more benign possibilities that a more sympathetic and caring attitude to investment, social care and collective responsibility in society might have realised. For that, I blame her and her alone.

Ding dong.