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Under Thatcher there was 'no Shining Britain'

Under Thatcher there was
Highlights

Didn't she set an example of 'Shining Britain' for which the NDA and the BJP would spread the red carpet for her? The media industry would beA ordered...

Didn't she set an example of 'Shining Britain' for which the NDA and the BJP would spread the red carpet for her? The media industry would beA ordered to swallow her right-wing formula to success. Who knows, as in the case of Falklands, she would have encouraged India to invade Sri Lanka on 'humanitarian grounds' and liberate the long-suffering Tamils. British media reported that in some parts of the country, crowds cheered the news of the death of former Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher. This was nothing unusual. When former President John F Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas city, teachers in some schools asked students to stand up and cheer. On the night Indira Gandhi was shot down by her Sikh guards, groups of Sikhs went around the streets of New Delhi greeting one another, "aaj Divali karenge'. Sometimes there was no accounting for human behavior; misguided minds can say anything and act unpredictably. Thatcher would not have been pleased that in Taiwan current affairs TV news clips showed British Queen Elizabeth while referring to Thatcher. Some Thailand TV channels could not distinguish between illusion and reality. Rather than showing Thatcher, they showed Hollywood star Meryl Streep who portrayed Thatcher in a Hollywood movie and even bagged the 'Best actress' Oscar for the same. That might have pleased the 'Iron Lady'. After all, Streep is the most outstanding female star of the modern era! Strange things happen in life. Thatcher was a grocer's daughter who reached the top in politics climbing various rungs. She had no godfather. Yet, when she reached the top she turned her back on the very same working class and broke the back of the British trade union movement. It was the same working class which celebrated the news of her death. No other leader in Britain in modern times reached such dizzying heights and led the Tories to three election victories. But no other leader divided Britain to such an extent and became an object of hatred.
David Cameron, British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives-led Coalition government, while paying tributes to Thatcher, had to admit, 'We can't deny that Lady Thatcher divided opinion'. Liberal-leaning 'Guardian' was harsher. "Her legacy was of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackled far more of the human spirit than they ever set free." Her political success was due mainly to the unstinted support from the gutter; right-wing press of tycoon Rupert Murdoch's sleazy tabloids, 'The Sun', 'News of the World' and 'The Daily Mirror' backed her to the hilt. Thatcher paid them back handsomely. Murdoch was determined to break the power of the press unions and received full support from Thatcher in shifting the huge presses to the distant, almost inaccessible dock areas. She encouraged Murdoch to replace liberal editors, journalists and columnists with those with far-right views. Britain's sense of fairness and liberalism was lost forever. On the industrial side, Thatcher would not give in to the just demands of the rail workers and broke their long strike, permanently breaking the back of British trade union movement. It is a harsh fact of life that if Thatcher were the British Prime Minister today, her Britain would be much admired by the Manmohans, the Montek Singh Ahluwalias and the Chidambarams. Didn't she set an example of 'Shining Britain' for which the NDA and the BJP would spread the red carpet for her? The media industry would be ordered to swallow her right-wing formula to success. Who knows, as in the case of Falklands, she would have encouraged and offered support for India to invade Sri Lanka on 'humanitarian grounds' and liberate the long-suffering Tamils. She would have offered to sell India arms worth millions of pounds. Thatcher recognized that Britain's days of glory were over. But a small bully in the company of a big bully could still make a noise and that led to the so-called special relationship with American President and former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, whose 'knowledge' of world policies and current affairs could be matched only by his hamming in front of the studio cameras. But the special relationship flourished because of the declining strength of international Communism; and Soviet leader Gorbachev was prepared to go along with the West. The Baroness liked the good things of life and had her own concept of democracy. She preferred to support military juntas, ruling right-wing dictatorships and would not give them up even when out of power. General Pinochet was one such dictator who crushed democracy in Chile and ruled with an iron fist killing thousands of protestors. Finally out of power and ailing he sought a UK visa for medical treatment. The British people protested because they did not want a bloody tyrant in their country. But Thatcher intervened; Pinochet was given a royal treatment though hostile crowds greeted him wherever he went. Thatcher loved the Arab Sheikhs, particularly those who invested in Britain and purchased huge quantities of arms. It was alleged that husband Dennis Thatcher and son Mark were involved in some of these shady arms deals. Her love-hate relationship with France was well-known. It was strange that the close allies of World War II squabbled so much over European Union. Thatcher did not want to join Europe except on her own conditions. She would not give up British individuality or British currency. Finally, her arrogance and rigidity over economic policies were too much even for her own Conservative Party and Thatcher found herself adrift without much support. She had used harsh terms to refer to her Cabinet colleagues and party members and this arrogance boomeranged on her. Along with Indira Gandhi, Thatcher was often referred to as the Iron Lady. But their approach to politics was different. Gandhi was a genuine people's leader. Like Thatcher she defied party leadership to come to power. But she held on to power after winning the hearts of people with genuine efforts like garibi hatao. Unlike Thatcher, Gandhi's support came from the masses. The two leaders respected each other but there was very little in common between them. But Thatcher's role in history could not be ignored. She held a tottering nation together but could emerge stronger because of the mediocrity of other political leaders. The trade unions overplayed their hands and lost public sympathy. Handling foreign policy was easier because the Soviet Union had lost its clout. Only one super power emerged and that was friendly to Thatcher. She was never a mass leader but such was Britain's economic chaos that people believed that only a 'tough' leader could save Britain. The nation which won the 'Battle of Britain' was made to believe that defending a small island like Falkland with nothing but sheep and shepherds was a great military achievement. How the mighty had fallen!
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