Journalism (4) – politics and Thatcher

Ah. Margaret.

How many lives did she influence back then? Or even end?

But let’s start at the beginning. Sitting in chemistry class at my private all-girls school.

We adored our teacher. Slim, attractive, slick dyed hair, make-up, smart suits, high heels – and cleared out of class every twenty minutes for a fag.

One day she came back in from a fag break, and had obviously wandered down to the science teachers’ common room to glance at the television. Our science block was well-away from the main school blocks presumably in case there was an accident with our chain-smoking chemistry teacher and our Bunsen burners, so the science teachers had their own exclusive den.

‘Margaret Thatcher is now the leader of the Conservative Party, girls,’ she announced gloriously.

We cheered, of course. ‘Hurrah!’

Hey, she was a woman, a chemist, and ambitious. So were we.

Political fervour over, we settled back to work, as no doubt MT would have approved of.

My father did NOT approve of women prime ministers. Bandaranaike ( I never did know her first name), Indira Gandhi, and Golda Meir, bore the full frontal attack of his sexist patriarchal authority. (Post here about them here)

If you can’t be bothered to click, it was on the lines of ‘better a bad male prime minister than a good female one….’

‘They are terrible.’

‘Why?’

‘Because they are women.’

went the endless discussions around the kitchen table at home. I couldn’t understand the (non-existent) logic.

But the truth is, when Thatcher came to power as prime minister she was the sixth ever woman prime minister in the world. The first in the western world. Good one.

Except, the others were equally important, so let’s not forget them. Despite my father’s comments.

When I went to university, I met people wearing badges that said ‘Don’t blame me, I voted Labour.’

How awful, I thought, telling people your political views like that. Even worse, that you voted Labour.

I had no idea how to speak to these socialist people. Life was no longer the all-girls private school. There were radicals about. I put my head down and tried not to mix with these communists who didn’t support MT. I found people with liberal and conservative views who had money. Unlike the dirty unwashed socialist masses who were all on full grants and wanted to take every hard-earned penny my parents had ever worked for. One of them even idolised Tony Benn and proudly waved his biography around. Horrors. I knew Benn was evil personified because my parents said he wanted to nationalise the banks. And we would be destitute if that happened.

I didn’t know very much about politics. My first vote that I cast was for Margaret Thatcher in the general election. (She won).

Of course, in my newspaper office, full of lefties, I didn’t dare admit this one. The only other closet Tory was someone else who had been to private school, and lived in an exceedingly large Victorian house (much larger than mine), and had a couple of black labradors to complete the image.

One day he drove me up the sweeping approach to the front door to meet his parents – no idea why, probably because like him, I had been to private school so therefore I was ‘a nice girl’, there was certainly no romance between us – and his mother came to the door complete with the obligatory labs. Inside there was one of those hallways that would house my current flat and still have space left-over.

We would have secret chats when all the lefties were out of the office and talk about the successful new government.

All our local councils were Labour-controlled. Naturally all the socialists were good and all the Tories were bad, apart from one who was grudgingly accepted to be not so bad. I particularly disliked one of the local councillors who was unemployed. He didn’t need a job, his total expenses claim was far more than my annual wage. I guess he must have been a very hard-working councillor.

Our local MP was Labour and when he visited the office we all got down on bended knee. I have no idea why. I didn’t like him and thought he was particularly sleazy. He was replaced by a blue-rinse (actually blond) Tory who probably modelled herself on Thatcher. I didn’t like her either. Neither of them lived in the constituency which racked me off. To me they were career politicians doing very little for the area.

There was more genuflection when the local – Labour – mayor visited. Everyone agreed how wonderful he was. I had no view either way. At one point however, there was a tragedy in his family and there was a discussion in the newsroom about whether it should be reported. It might add even more distress to an already sad situation.

Er – what about ethics?

We don’t pick and choose who we write about. Plenty of other people might have been upset about some of our stories. The next time he visited, there were endless apologies to him about having to print the story – and to be fair – he was totally charming about it. I guess he wasn’t a bad bloke after all.

But the insidious infusion of the anti-Tory brigade comments must have started to make their mark on me. I didn’t agree with the invasion of the Falklands. I have no idea why, maybe I just didn’t like the idea of war. Maybe I cynically saw it as no more than a political move to boost popularity at the expense of more than 200 British lives.

Just as well I was paid to report and not to think.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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23 Responses to Journalism (4) – politics and Thatcher

  1. Vicky says:

    I really enjoyed reading that πŸ™‚
    The one thing that shines through it is how much our political choice is influenced by our early upbringing. It is only as we are let out into the big bad world that we start to form our own opinions, and even that can change, depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in.
    I’ve seen T go full circle in his political choice. Me? I find politics along with religion the most boring subjects on the planet.
    Sorry Emily P, but I don’t make as much use of my vote as I should 😦

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    • I think that is spot-on. Aren’t all our opinions and choices influenced by our early up-bringing though? At what point do we and can we escape? Philosophical me today πŸ˜€

      I think shopping is more boring than politics, but I do find the academic aspect of politics interesting. Occasionally.

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  2. Good post and I find myself agreeing with Vicky.

    I was the product of a middle class family and in my teens assumed I was a Tory even though my dad always voted Liberal. Studies in history and British Constitution endorsed this assumption until… Until Thatcher – what an absolute cow! What a disaster! What a bitch! Did you know Oxford refused to give her an honourary degree because of her swinging educational reforms? Good for Oxford I say! And I don’t say this in a sexist way because let’s face it the Nazi Cameron makes her look like Comrade Lenin! I despise this woman and everything she did to destroy British industry and the working class structure of society and I hope she eventually gets consigned the dustbin of history where she surely belongs!

    I knew one of your posts would get me down off the fence eventually!

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    • Bit OTT there for you πŸ˜€

      My dad voted liberal as well incidentally.

      Yes. I did know she was the first PM who had been there and didn’t get the honorary degree because of the ‘reforms’.

      I have to disagree though. I mean apart from your somewhat sexist adjectives but we won’t get into that. I do think she did some good things. I’m not sure what they were off the top of my head though so I will have to think about that one and make a totally separate post about it. I don’t think she gave a shit about British industry or the working class, but she did need to change voting patterns and power bases. Gotta admire someone who achieved that however much you disagree with it.

      I don’t think she will end up in the dustbin nor do I think she deserves it. Now Blair on the other hand …..

      I try and avoid reading about British politics. Especially the C word.

      Quick, jump back onto your fence πŸ˜€

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      • Well, I don’t think she did anything remotely useful for this country. She created social division and only increased wealth for her Tory lackies through the privatisation policies. On the whole we would have been better off with Neil Kinnock. That’s not sexist by the way it’s Welshist!

        OK, getting unaccustomed to being down here so climbing straight back on the fence!

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        • Laughing at you jumping up and down off that comfy fence!

          You are determined to get me to make a post on her achievements aren’t you? Anyway, you will have to wait until I have finished my misty-eyed journo recollections.

          I thought Neil Kinnock was pretty crappy. So did most other people which is obviously why she got in. Will ask Welsh partner when he returns from dog walk for his view on that one.

          Did you know she didn’t want to privatise the railways though? I didn’t until I checked out wiki. That really surprised me.

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        • Blu says:

          I think Margaret Thatcher only did one good thing during her time as Prime Minister, and that was the privatisation of British Telecom. Without the competition in that sector we’d still be dialling up to the internet with it costing us probably 20p a minute, and broadband in the UK would have been significantly delayed as BT would have no incentive to introduce it. The consequences for the UK’s service sector economy would have been dramatic.

          That said, I don’t credit Thatcher with knowing what she was doing at the time, all the other utility privatisations have been disasters, the only competition seems to be who gets to send you your bill.

          Like

  3. Letty says:

    I have so much to catch up with on your blogs, and I apologise for being so out of the loop with things in the blog world and comments etc. And thank you also for your comments on mine recently. I was highly influenced by my parent’s views on politics I must admit. My parents voted conservative all their lives, surprisingly, since they both came from homes and families, in a very poor and destitute part of east London. I have often wondered why they were not more “socialist” in their views due to their upbringing. And I was pleased and have to confess I voted for Maggie back in 1979. Albeit by post as I was about to give birth in hospital. It does seem to me however, that whoever gets in power, is ultimately destroyed by such power. Be it Kinnock, Blair, Major, or whoever. In the end, power does corrupt. A friend of mine who was a labour voter from the age of 18 used to say “whatever party is in power, the ordinary person in the UK doesn’t benefit”.

    One thing I would like to add too, is that I find some of the press in the UK rather offensive in the way that they “demonise” Mrs Thatcher. And I dislike the “hate” which is sometimes directed towards her, even when photos of her nowadays clearly show, she is a lonely and very sick old lady. However, as usual, that is just my opinion!

    I will try to keep up from now on………life has been somewhat hectic to say the least.

    Like

  4. Letty says:

    I really meant to say in the last comment “I was pleased a woman was becoming a prime minister at long last”, but I was typing way too fast and the sense got lost.

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  5. Letty says:

    last time I voted, I voted Green!

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  6. Thanks for your comments – I’ve voted Green too. I really will write another post on this topic using everyone’s comments as there is far too much to reply to in a brief comment back.

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  7. Kyanite Blue says:

    As ever you’ve written seriously on the topic, that I’ve babbled on!
    I did knew about the Oxford stuff like Oxford not giving MT a degree, should have mentioned it.
    You have so much feedback, I’ll just read.

    Like

    • Actually I mentioned Thatcher just because she was so prominently around, and political chat was a large part of our office life. I enjoyed your post, especially as someone else had seen the film recently so was interested in your take on it.

      Like

  8. Umm kicked up a bit of a storm with this one. Love your post. Vicky is right, of course about parental influence on voting paterns takes ages to make the break and form your own opinions.

    IMHO Blu has it wrong, the only good thing Thatcher did was leave Downing Street, and she only did that when she was forced out. To my lasting shame I had dinner with her. I had no idea she would be there, if I had I wouldn’t, if you see what I mean. However it worked out quite well. Thatcher was accross the table and a couple down from me. Well within food throwing distance but, it was the unveiling of her portrait at Lincoln’s Inn. Fortunately I was sitting next to the artist, can’t remember her name, something Mendoza I think. However, she was intelligent, witty and vivacious. It kept my mind from thoughts of throttling Thatcher.

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    • Storm? Me? Don’t be silly πŸ™‚

      I am determined to write a post now about good things she did – even if I have to read a wretched biography of the woman!

      I shall write about my time in Downing St on another post …..

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      • Well, as you say she is in the top ten of first women leaders so that’s an achievement in itself. She was proof of the strength of women, highlighted the weakness of men and knew her own mind.

        She didn’t have the effect of shattering the glass ceiling which I thought / hoped she might.

        I look forward to your very own yes minister series but only after this current one has run its course. :0

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        • Interesting analysis of her personality, exactly the same as another friend said recently. However, they are personal characteristics and not achievements for the country which is the challenge I appear to have set myself.

          She suffered from Queen Bee syndrome. Yet another post to write on that topic!

          I’ll sneak in a bit of ministerial stuff with the next post in the series.

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          • I shall look forward to that. Must shoot I have to do a further response to Earth Day in Gib!!

            I deliberately didn’t bother to try and think of something she did for the country, I don’t have time for the impossible this morning. Oh she did turn us all into greedy selfish people who don’t give a toss about anyone / thing. But she can’t have all the credit because I think most people were already there!

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          • Laughing, I so love comments that make me LOL first thing (well, maybe not first thing, but earlyish).

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          • And I love thought provoking blogs that provide a little inspiration, the comment here about carbon footprint for example. For me it’s first thing, home late couldn’t sleep blah blah blah. πŸ˜‰

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          • I think the comments make the blog post though, and I am lucky to have acquired some thoughtful commenters. Waiting for you to ‘print’ your new post now πŸ™‚

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          • Should be there …

            Like

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