This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
FEATUREMargaret Thatcher Creedof evil, THEN… Margaret Thatcher’s legacy lives on

“It’s important to air the room, to keep it fresh,” she said – the middle aged housewife, plumping up the cushions and straightening out the crushed velvet drapes. “Thank you so much for the lovely food, it’s most delicious. But Denis says he much prefers my shepherd’s pie!”

They laughed – Margaret Thatcher and my boss who idolised her. I stood in the corner, the other woman in the room, unmoved by the show. She didn’t even notice I was there. It was 1983, just after her Falklands victory re-election, and just before she commenced her full-throttle vicious and unrelenting attacks on the rights, lives and futures of the working people of this country. Attacks from which we are still reaping the dreadful harvest.

I was in Downing Street organising one of the endless official dinners she hosted. It was a curious job for a 20-year-old from Ilford – having to place world leaders round a table in an order no-one would object to, having to sample if the food she was eating was of a high enough quality, having to be discreet about which newspaper editors she was receiving that week.

But for me the high life wasn’t to last long – about as long as it took before her attacks on trade union and worker’s rights were to get into full flood. In January 1984 Margaret Thatcher banned trade union membership at


government listening centre, GCHQ, for ‘security reasons’. In effect she had just equated trade union membership with treason.

As chair of my Foreign Office union branch, we wasted no time in joining in the campaign for the reversal of this bizarre diktat. In the day’s strike that followed I turned away the Royal Mail van from Downing Street, stopping Margaret’s post. Shortly after I was carted off to another FCO job – it transpired that at last she had indeed noticed me.

From top – Brixton riots, 1981

Big bang, City of London, 1986 Poll tax protest, Glasgow, 1988

16 uniteWORKS May/June 2013

That year the attacks on the miners continued. But it hadn’t been exactly easy before then either. Her litany of fell deeds began even before her election in May 1979, with the infamous ‘milk snatcher’ episode – a clear sign that this mother wasn’t bothered about the nutritional needs of working class children.

Perhaps the legacy we are all paying for started in earnest in 1980 with the right to buy your council house. It made her very popular with my Essex Man and Girl neighbours, and helped many families on to the property and prosperity ladder. But that ladder was then firmly pulled up. No-one replaced the council housing she sold off and today’s lack of affordable housing crisis will continue to cause misery for our families for decades to come.

But then she didn’t believe in society. Amid recession she raised taxes and cut spending. Inflation was at 20 per cent, unemployment soared to a record 3.1m. Riots broke out, our cities burned, as black communities fought against police bias, and tear gas rose above the streets of Toxteth.

She never did bring the harmony she promised to. Much has been said about what she did to vast swathes of this country by destroying the miners. There are families still at war, fathers who never got another job, wounded communities whose scars run deeper than the mines that she closed. Villages and cities alike rotted in a managed decline, some never to recover.

Back in 1985 Ilford, the only place to be on a Saturday night was outside Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping plant, supporting family and friends in the print. Margaret may have forgotten the good of society but we certainly hadn’t. The printers’ fight was to be made even harder by the use of her anti-union laws – which never went away.

PA Photos

PA Photos

PA Photos

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36