9 April 2013
|Many trade unionists, socialists and people angry at cuts, unemployment, the bedroom tax and the privatisation of the NHS came out on the streets on Monday night and celebrated at the news of Thatcher’s death. There was much debate about the rights and wrongs of celebrating the death of someone, even someone hated by so many for the political destruction she caused.Although Thatcher is dead Thatcherism is alive and well and the cuts people are feeling today sharply emphasise the need to organise to change to rid us of her legacy.Many pointed to the fact that she labelled Nelson Mandela a terrorist and was a friend of PW Botha, a friend of Jimmy Saville, a friend of Pinochet of Chile and as Education Secretary she abolished universal free school milk, becoming known as ‘the milk snatcher’.Along with her introduction of the ‘right to buy’ on a national scale, which saw the sell-off of an estimated 2 million council homes, still resonating today as families face a tax on bedrooms, whilst having little council stock to allow families to move to smaller properties, her attack on the trade union movement, in particular the miners, attracted most comment.|
Thatcher took on the miners in a bitter year long strike with the aim of weakening the whole trade union movement by taking on the strongest and most well-organised group of workers.
The anti trade union laws she introduced were designed to undermine workers struggles to try to prevent effective resistance.
When she left office 1 in 3 children were living in poverty compared to 1 in 7 when she took office.
Despite the rhetoric about the ‘Iron Lady’ the epic battle over the poll tax defeated her politically and shows that even a tough leader like her can be defeated. At least twice during the strike Thatcher wobbled – when other workers joined the the battle.
30 years on we are still blighted by the legacy of her government and her policies.
Today we face the challenge of uniting the trade union movement and working towards a General Strike against the severe cuts to pay, pensions and services as well as campaigning in our communities against the bedroom tax, benefit cuts and privatisation.