Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

De mortibus...

Back in the 1980s, I was walking along a leafy suburban street when my companion suddenly turned and spat viciously into an unremarkable front garden, then continued onward as if nothing had happened.

I was appalled - although I did not know him well, there was nothing about this polite ex-public schoolboy, son of a notable academic, to suggest such behaviour was likely. I asked him what on earth he thought he was doing.

"Tory party HQ", he replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "The enemy stronghold".

Such was my introduction to the mentality that has spawned a thousand tasteless tweets since the death of Lady Thatcher. It never ceases to amaze me that a certain type of socialist can publicly vaunt his or her caring credentials and respect for mankind while at the same time heaping unwarranted and vicious personal abuse on the heads of political opponents.

Orwell, of course, had it perfectly summed-up with the concept of 'doublethink'; doubtless the left-wing politicians and comedians, who were still persisting with their tired and increasingly irrelevant anti-Thatcher jibes two decades after she left office, can see nothing inappropriate in publicly rejoicing at the death of an elderly grandmother.

I'm not advocating universal and unopposed hagiography, of course - we saw quite enough of that with the 'People's Princess' - but it saddens me to think that, while most of us can observe the decencies and respect the passing of another human being whether or not we agreed with her politics, some have clearly not yet attained that level of civilization.

One of the more depressing news stories described the cheers that greeted the announcement at the NUS conference. The vast majority of delegates were not even born when Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street  (unless, of course, the NUS is made up largely of mature students with a political axe to grind).

Hatred of 'Maggie Thatcher' has become a tenet of faith in certain circles; it trumps all common decency or manners to a disturbing extent. The crowds who celebrated her demise with a drunken looting spree in a Brixton charity shop may not have known any better but there is no excuse for the public figures who expressed themselves so tastelessly.

But, of course, the sentiments of George Galloway and the like were never really about Lady Thatcher; those tweets were attention-seeking of the highest order, competing to grab the headlines with the most egregious comments possible.

Still, crass and immature though it may be, there's no point in offence-seeking. I don't believe in an after-life but I'd like to think that if Lady Thatcher, restored to her full searing intellect, were reading those tweets now, she would be highly amused at the level to which her critics have sunk.


Update: if you haven't already done so, look in on Caedmon's Cat for a masterful and entertaining summing-up.

6 comments:

  1. We always knew it would be like this too. We knew the response from many would be Pavlovian.

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  2. "The vast majority of delegates were not even born when Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street..."

    Likewise those in Glasgow, Brixton, Manchester and Bristol using the occasion to light fires, steal, drink & take drugs and fight with the police...

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  3. AKH, very true: doesn't make it any more edifying as a spectacle, though.

    Julia, doubtless they will somehow find a way to blame the government - or the police, or anyone else - for the resulting damage.

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  4. It never ceases to amaze me that a certain type of socialist can publicly vaunt his or her caring credentials and respect for mankind while at the same time heaping unwarranted and vicious personal abuse on the heads of political opponents.

    That gets quoted right now.

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  5. Mrs. Thatcher was of working class stock and the first to have higher education. Inevitably she has been subject to the rank snobbery of of some, especially the toffs and others from favoured backgrounds amongst the socialists.

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  6. Thanks for the compliment, JH.

    Demetrius, for those who valued their hereditary rank, she represented the worst kind of social mobility; a counter-jumper from a family of tradesmen presuming to take them on at their own game.

    Meanwhile, to the northern and Scots industrial workers, her accent was indistinguishable from that of the upper classes who once owned the coal-mines and steel mills and, as a result, she faced the full brunt of Class War at its worst.

    Her determination to persevere in the face of hostility from above and below was, I think, one of her defining characteristics.

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