Thatcher’s death and righteous sexism

A great post of Thatcher from a woman, mother and original northerner!


Sexism: it’s wrong, right? But what if it’s in the name of a greater good? I find myself pondering this, as I knew I would, following the death of Margaret Thatcher, knowing that each time her legacy is analysed some small part of me will be on the alert, waiting for all those little reminders that she was just a woman after all. I know it will make me angry but also that I’ll hate myself for feeling this way; after all, they’re just words. Sexism kills, sure, but so did Thatcherism, so isn’t this one scenario in which we’re allowed to call it quits?

Like many people of my generation I have a resentment of Thatcher that is at least in part manufactured. I didn’t feel it when it mattered. I was too young and besides, the north of England I grew up in was rural. We didn’t learn anger…

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The Lady Left Her Mark!

Love or hate her you cannot deny that Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady herself, left her mark on this country.

Regardless of whether the decisions she made were right or wrong, they were always huge. They changed the country, dramatically.

But I am not an expert on politics. Some days I struggle to remember the name of the  Education Secretary – and I taught English for 7 years and still mark exam papers, this is something I should always know!

And I will  not pretend that just because an ex-prime minister has died that I have an opinion on every  political decision she made. Because I don’t.

She left power in 1990. I was nine. When she was stepping down (or being turfed out) from running the country I had  just managed to work out that was what a prime minister did – ran the country. Because until then I actually thought that was what the Queen was doing from her throne!

But I am sure there were  some nine year olds in 1990 Britain  who did understand more about Margaret Thatcher’s decisions. Nine year olds who watched parents lose their livelihoods, nine year olds  who watched them hoarsely scream and stamp on picket lines and nine year olds who watched the iron lady’s claw rip out their community’s heart.

And there were nine year olds who saw parents grab hold of some hope and aspirations, watched as families were given a opportunity to buy a council house, a chance to end their own vicious circle, a chance to break free, to have their own little plot; something to finally build on!

But not me. At nine years old I was not directly affected by her government! Not that I was aware of  anyway.  My parents were teachers, they were in secure jobs, we had a secure roof over our heads and I had a happy childhood.

For me, Margaret Thatcher was the first politicians name I knew. The first prime minister’s name I learnt. For me she was a woman who ran the country. A woman. And this wasn’t strange. This was normal. Woman just did things like that. Like the Queen. I never questioned whether this was normal, or even, for that time quite incredible. It was just how it was.

So for me, Margaret Thatcher didn’t inspire me or anger me. But she did let me know one thing: that as a woman I could do anything I wanted, even run the country. If I wanted. But I didn’t want to.  Because it would be a bit awkward as I’d  never be able to remember the Education Secretary’s name.

Thatcher stockton

Margaret Thatcher Up North in bleak Stockton 1987.
This wasteland is now Durham University Stockton Campus.