Thatcher’s brutal legacy

Class counts. The bosses and bankers love the political leaders who serve them best and hurt the workers and oppressed the most. The workers and poor people who suffered and still suffer from the acts of these leaders continue to hate them — dead or alive.

This explains why the British reactionaries and bankers and their corporate media are lionizing the late Margaret Thatcher. It also helps explain why workers from Scotland to Wales, including in the mining areas of northern England — and indeed, workers throughout Britain — have gone into the streets to celebrate the demise of one of the cruelest of a nasty succession of prime ministers representing the British imperialist ruling class.

For readers who didn’t live through the 1980s or might have forgotten what Thatcher’s heading of British imperialism meant to the world and its working class, we’ll bring up just a few of her crimes against humanity, starting with those against oppressed nations.

Like all British prime ministers, Thatcher was a determined opponent of Irish freedom. She distinguished herself by showing absolute cruelty toward the 10 Irish hunger strikers in H-block (Her Majesty’s Prison Maze) in Ireland’s north. Her intransigence in persecuting these prisoners led to the death of Irish freedom fighter Bobby Sands, whose death was mourned by millions across the world.

Moving even further from London, Thatcher led a war against Argentina’s rightful attempt to take the Malvinas Islands — which British imperialism called the Falklands — back from its European overlords and rejoined to Latin America, where it belonged. The brutal Argentine junta — an unworthy initiator of a just struggle — was abandoned by its U.S. imperialist backers. The U.S.’s loyalties to Britain, its fellow imperialist ally, overcame its sympathies for the junta generals, who were murderers of Argentina’s workers and youth.

Britain not only won that battle, but to punish ordinary Argentinians, Thatcher’s air force bombed the General Belgrano — an Argentine ship retreating from the scene of the fighting — and murdered another 300 Argentine troops.

Some offer, as the pretext for Britain’s actions, that Thatcher opposed the fascist junta in Argentina. But Thatcher’s rallying to the defense of Chilean butcher Augusto Pinochet, when he faced war-crimes charges in Spain, prove that her only objection to the Argentine generals was that they dared to move against a British possession.

We doubt there is anyone in Ireland or Argentina, outside of a handful of imperialist lackeys, mourning her death.

No one should forget the lesson that any imperialist head of government so brutal toward the oppressed nations of the world is also an enemy of the working class and all the downtrodden and oppressed at home. And Thatcher, like her U.S. homologue, President Ronald Reagan, opened up all her guns on the union movement and on the nationalized industries at home.

Like Reagan did in the U.S. with the PATCO air-traffic controllers, Thatcher declared war on the British mining union, which means she declared war on the miners and on all the working class at home. No longer would Britain’s imperialist ruling class make compromises with the workers. Thatcher mobilized Britain’s bankers and bosses against the miners, crushing their heroic strike and driving millions of working-class Welsh, Scottish and English workers into poverty.

Thatcher’s policies took milk from the mouths of British children. The weakened unions couldn’t stop the British ruling class from seizing back the nationalized industries and driving millions of workers into unemployment. Her attack on the national health care system, though resisted, is still going on today, carried out by her successors.

Thatcher may be gone, but the attacks on the British working class continue.  The attempt to make her some sort of heroic icon is not just a posthumous recognition of her service to the superrich, but is also part of the continuing offensive against the workers. It is astounding that some eulogies praise Thatcher for her alleged feminism, as she had sneeringly commented that feminists hated her and retorted, “I don’t blame them. I hate feminism.”

The capitalist film industry did its best to paint as heroic an image as possible of Thatcher with its “Iron Lady” film, with Hollywood awarding actor Meryl Streep an Oscar for her humane portrayal of the inhumane prime minister. Once again, class counts.

Thousands held an anti-Thatcher party the night before her funeral, and many more turned their backs on her coffin as it was paraded through London’s streets. Workers all over the world understand and sympathize with those in Britain who make their feelings known.

Long live free Ireland!

The Malvinas belong to Argentina!

Long live the struggle of the working class in Britain!