Just when you thought that, perhaps finally, we’ve heard the last of Margaret Thatcher for a while, she rises again. There’s no escaping the Iron Lady.
It’s nearly a decade since she died, but it seems we are doomed to argue about her until the day we die, in a special version of hell reserved for people obsessed with politics.
I say this because the Tories are now talking about having a national Margaret Thatcher Day. This week, in the House of Commons, the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch was asked by Sheryll Murray, the MP for South East Cornwall, whether she would endorse the idea for such a day. Thatcher had broken the glass ceiling for women, obviously, and thus a day for her would be a celebration of the fact.
Badenoch said: “I personally would be very supportive of a Margaret Thatcher day. But I think that is probably more a question for the prime minister than myself.”
You may laugh it off, but the problem is I can just imagine Boris Johnson thinking this would be an excellent way to keep the culture wars going. He would likely welcome such an event just as he would do something like “Brexit Day”. Let’s stick it to the metropolitan elite with another day to remind them how much we despise them.
To be honest, I would welcome a national Margaret Thatcher Day. Providing we are allowed to remember her de ella as the polarizing figure she was de ella, and we are able to celebrate both sides – the positive and the negative. And why not? After all, it was the Tories who decided to remove her from her – not even the public – because she was so polarizing.
This is why Tories still love her don’t they? Because she was willing to stick it to the left in ways they can only dream of? Isn’t that the allure of the cult of Thatcher? Sure, Tories are also fond of her rigid ideological stance de ella, the same way Corbynites stand by their man precisely because he was clear about who he stood for and stood against.
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Similarly, if we are to have a national Margaret Thatcher Day, there are people who would celebrate her and people who would love to burn effigies of her. Not only would I argue that both would be within their rights to do so, I would attest that is the only fitting way to celebrate Thatcher.
Why not welcome all the reactions, even the negative ones? That is what elevated Thatcher. To see her purely through one lens is to reduce her to a one-dimensional cartoon. She was complicated. She contained multitudes. She attracted die-hard loyalty and hate in almost equal measure. That was her undeniable legacy of her.
Allowing people to burn effigies of Thatcher would be the perfect illustration of the freedom we have to say whatever we like in this country. And isn’t that what Thatcher stood for: freedom? Surely that means the freedom to hate someone, as much as to adore them? It’s a free country – right?
Any day that doesn’t celebrate the full extent of all the feeling she evoked won’t do Thatcher any justice at all. Release her from the cult and let her be celebrated however people like her. That’s the only way to bring people together.