Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Margaret Thatcher

‘I have no wish to speak ill of the dead, even when they are still alive’

This is set to be Margaret Thatcher’s year. At the time of writing, she is still with us, but obits are being updated. I know this because I am sometimes asked to appear in programmes being prepared for posthumous broadcast. I refuse, because I have no wish to speak ill of the dead, even when they are still alive. But I’m sure all manner of people have lined up to pay homage, Tony Blair gushing, ‘She was the People’s Pinochet.’

No mention of her friendship with the Chilean mass murderer and torturer appears in the rather silly film The Iron Lady. Indeed, according to that version of history, her motivation in taking on General Galtieri was in part that he was a fascist. But, in common with her friend Reagan, fascist dictatorship wasn’t something she frequently held against people.
The one thing the film usefully reminds us of, as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War descends upon us, is that she had sanctioned the winding-down of naval protection for the Falklands. The film might have gone further and shown that Argentina was being given a growing role in the future of the islands until they blew it by invading. In trying to use military force to rescue his popularity, Galtieri only succeeded in rescuing Thatcher’s. But in a sense, Argentina won the war. They got rid of their crazy, right-wing ruler; and we were stuck with ours for several more years.

In the end, it was her own party that ditched her, denying us the chance. Today, I bear her no malice. I’m sure she thought she was right. People generally do. But I’ll say it now rather than when her loved ones are grieving: she did terrible harm, and little of any merit.

Jeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.


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