This week it was again mooted that a museum be established to honour former PM.
The measure of any society, it is said, lies in how it looks after its poorest and most vulnerable members. John Locke opined that when we decided that we wished to organise and call ourselves civilised, we had to abandon the rights we had against each other in our state of nature in order to live together without fear or destitution. In effect, we subscribed to a form of social contract, a usually implicit agreement among the members of an organised society or between the governed and the government, defining and limiting the rights, duties and responsibilities of each. This is how we secure mutual protection and welfare, ensuring that those who fall ill or become unemployed can be helped, keeping some semblance of their dignity intact. Quite simply, we all pay into the system when we are able through our taxes, and make ‘withdrawals’ in the form of services and pensions or welfare when we need them. These ‘withdrawals’ are ours by right, but are these days referred to as ‘benefits’. Of course, with the rights come the duties and responsibilities, such as respect for each other and the law, the education of our children, the well being of our elderly and so on.
Over the years, certain people have been chipping away at our perception of this ‘social contract’. Most of it has been very gradual and very subtle. The Tories have always been set against the principle of the state providing for the less fortunate and, more recently the Labour party, in a bid to be seen as ‘electable’ in the eyes of the rich owners of the press, has been shedding several of its core principles. This gradual shift became an outright onslaught with the election of Margaret Thatcher, remained unaddressed under New Labour (to its eternal shame), and is now being viciously completed by the present rotten, corrupt coalition government.
The scale of Mrs Thatcher’s assault should not be underestimated. In her determination not just to emasculate the trade union movement, but to completely stamp it out, she also attacked the heartland where they were at their strongest: the manufacturing industry. The result, as we can see, was the complete laying to waste of this sector, along with a rapid decline in the living standards of the millions of decent, working people employed therein. Where we once built ships and manufactured steel, machines and electrical appliances with tradesmen and women on proper wages paying proper taxes, we now sell each other mobile phones (manufactured elsewhere) or make coffee and burgers on minimum wages paying little, if any tax. Mrs Thatcher and her friends in the elite-owned press convinced people by drip-feeding that the unions, which had achieved the decent pay and conditions that were now being stolen from them, were actually the villains, and that we should look after ourselves individually and not each other.
The Thatcher administration then proceeded to sell swathes of state controlled industries. The eminently viable names (which could have been still delivering billions in income and duty to the exchequer) to be hawked off for private companies to trouser the profits included:
- British Aerospace
- Cable & Wireless
- British Telecom
- British Gas
- British Steel
- British Petroleum
- Rolls Royce
- British Airways
- British Coal
- British Rail
- Associated British Ports
- Enterprise Oil
- British Shipbuilders
- The Water Board
These all belonged to the nation, but are now in the hands of (largely foreign) private companies. People are suggesting that we have a museum as a monument – to this?
The NHS is being prepared for total privatisation, care for the elderly is decimated, the ambulance service is collapsing, our children are being charged £27,000 to educate themselves – a birth right in my day, fire stations are closing, coastguard stations are closing, libraries are closing, police numbers are being slashed, the terminally ill are being told to find a job, people will be forced to work ’til they’re 70 and young people will be forced to work for nothing as interns. Nixon bugged one office and was impeached; our government is spying on all of us and laughs in our faces. To the people considering the Margaret Thatcher Museum I have a simple message: Take a look around you. . . . .YOU’RE LIVING IN IT ! ! !