Sunday, 14 April 2013

Who is Margaret Thatcher?

There has been much made of the fact that teenagers and young people who were not born till after Thatcher left office don't know about Thatcher and Thatcherism. This raises the question: Should they know who she was? In the Times newspaper April 9 George Osborne said that, "children will study the former Prime minister in the same way that they study Elizabeth 1, Cromwell and Churchill."

Do I want to study about Thatcher? I partly agree with George Osborne. I read up on Thatcher during last summer's school holidays. I came to the conclusion that her legacy still lives on and has woven itself into the fabric of our economic, social and political systems. If you think about it, in the days before she died the harshest ever welfare reforms were implemented and people who didn't manage to buy their council houses were hit with the bedroom tax. Thatcherism is everywhere. Just as are the people who dislike her, who were born after she had left No 10. Her shadow looms large. People who turned out to party at Trafalgar Sq yesterday prove this point. The right may refer to them derogatorily as being 'lefties' or 'Marxists' but an intellectual point is lost - while Thatcherism is practised in any shape or form the recipients have a right to either agree or disagree.

Osborne says that "Margaret Thatcher was an optimist... She had optimism that Britain's best days lay ahead of it  not behind it..." If Thatcherism was taught in this way it would be brainwashing.  Thatcherism would have to be taught in a way that drew together the facts and the evidence. As a student I would want to be taught about how Hayek's "Road to Serfdom"  came to knock Keynes off  the nation's bookshelf. Most importantly, I would want to know why a woman who wasn't open to new ideas and wasn't for turning came to dominate the lives of children who will be born after her death.


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