News and Media
Here you can find the regular column from ASLEF's General Secretary, Mick Whelan.
The problem is not Thatcher: it is Thatcherism.
I didn’t join the protestors or demonstrators who went to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral last month. This wasn’t just because I happened to be in Scotland at the STUC and Labour Party conferences at the time. It was because, although I understood those who did wish to show their disdain for her actions, I couldn’t see the point in turning my back on the coffin of a demented pensioner.
Thatcher was a driven woman who hated working people and the trade unions they used to defend themselves. Her policies destroyed British manufacturing and sought to end any idea of community. They promoted greed as an acceptable moral standard, destroyed the notion of public service and were responsible for the creation of the nasty ‘me’ society.
Her policies did that, not her. It is those policies and the evil they introduced that cry out for our attention.Would that it was as easy as shouting at a coffin to overturn the consequences of her period in office! But it isn’t.
Thatcher’s policies won three consecutive elections. Our concern and attention should be focussed on that. How is it that Labour had no popular alternatives to put before the electorate? Why were we incapable of uniting the country against such a vicious series of attacks on working people – who are the majority of the populace? How did it happen that, rather than propose radical changes of our own, we fell into an apathetic stupor, and treated her vision as one that could not be changed?
Thatcher’s policies can be overturned, and a more civilised,sharing, concerned, human, tolerant and equal society can be achieved. But it will take courage, idealism - and hardwork. Labour needs to be bold and assertive. It needs to convince the electorate of the attractiveness of our alternative vision.
Thatcherism will only be defeated politically. We will know we have won when we have a Prime Minister who says with conviction, ‘Where there was bigotry, we brought equality. Where there was greed, we brought fraternity. And where there was disadvantage, we brought succor.’