Talking Politics: Ideology of Thatcher is still as strong

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

It was Thatcherism the ideology and not Margaret Thatcher the person that caused so much damage to Halifax.

As such, it is wrong to personalise the 1980s as being solely the fault of one figure. Some of the vitriolic language about a dead person is not to my taste.

Let’s remember that without a conservative government implementing them, conservative MPs trooping through the lobby to vote for them and people endorsing them at general elections, many of the policies would not have happened. The last few weeks have brought back many memories of that era. And the death of such a dominant figure, and Thatcher was certainly that, has certainly drawn a line under a lot of our recent political history.

However, it’s the present, not the past that most people are bothered about.

Many of us who were so appalled at what happened to Halifax in the 1980s are watching history repeat itself. So when David Cameron said we “are all Thatcherities now” we should be worried.

This current government is as right wing as that of Thatcher’s government, let’s be in no doubt about that.

Tory strategists must be delighted every time one of their backbenchers calls for a move to the right; it plays to the narrative that this is quite a moderate Tory government. In reality, it’s far from it.

Climate Change and hug a huddy are long gone. Instead we have welfare cuts, bedroom taxes and tax cuts for millionaires. Yet, here in Halifax something is different now to the Thatcher era. In the 1980s politics was a lot more tribal. The left of centre was united in opposing Thatcherism; Labour and the Liberals/Alliance/Sdp (they changed their name every year in those days) were clear in their opposition, not always successfully.

Yet in Halifax Town Hall on Wednesday night local Lib Dems moved an amendment supporting the bedroom tax. Strange times indeed.

So anyone thinking the Libs’ role in the coalition government is to moderate Tory policies will have to think again. Perhaps the yellows believe in this stuff after all.

So when the Prime Minister said we are all Thatcherities now, perhaps the ‘we’ bit referred to the coalition government.

He certainly didn’t speak for many of my constituents. It’s clear where the dividing lines will be at the next election. It might be a throwback to the 1980s but this time, for the sake of Halifax, the North and the country, the Labour Party cannot afford to lose two let alone three elections on the bounce. So although Margaret Thatcher has passed away, her ideology is very much alive in the form of the present government. Marx was right; history does indeed repeat itself. It might not be farce, but for many in Halifax it is certainly a tragedy.