Stan Collymore’s views of Thatcher’s legacy
My thoughts on the Margaret Thatcher era.
I was 8 when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister,and 19 by the time she left the highest office.
In that time i lived through the changes she implemented and the impact on my community in Cannock, and in the UK generally.
I saw many friends lose their jobs in underground and open cast mining,the impact of which was truly devastating.
Miners earned good money,they were skilled men, and local business in my childhood thrived from the money that was spent in shops ,pubs, and services in the area. After the miners strike of 1984, when in effect the Trade Union movement across the board had its back broken, the job losses rose, miners of long standing en masse were unemployed (and unemployable due to their niche) , and the vibrant town i still live in today became a virtual ghost town in the late 80’s/early 90’s.
Proud people living day to day, hand to mouth with no prospect of work or supporting families on the horizon.
Today i drove past the 3 places i played sport in most in Cannock. Cannock Police(who i played for) football pitch is now an ASDA, Cannock Stadium where i learned long jump and track is now housing, and the school field i played much of my junior football on is around a fifth of the size it once was due to the policy of school playing field self offs.
These green spaces are gone forever. No more kids learning sport and its value to health and camaraderie , just sold of land never to be reclaimed along with 5000 other spaces sold in the UK at that time.
The opportunity to buy a house for most working class people was a dream, the absolute embodiment of “An Englishman’s home is his castle”, and many, like my Mum jumped at the chance via the right to buy scheme.
Was it wrong ? Not so much wrong, as ill thought out by Government as there was no policy at the time to run a much needed housebuilding programme alongside the right to buy . In the absence of such a policy, selling off council housing at that time was an exercise in filling Government coffers and political point scoring rather than a duty of care to Britain’s working people. Pure political opportunism.
A British government should have a duty of care to all of its people and Margaret Thatcher failed on that front. Scotland, the industrial North, Wales, Midlands,and pockets of London were all let down by a Woman who had no intuitive feeling for community, groups of people, and the notion that we really are in it all together.
She concentrated on the smallest possible number of people to help get her elected and who would keep her there. The angry polarised views on social media and forums today prove this spectacularly.
I marched against the Poll Tax, i marched in Cannock in support of the miners. I bought merchandise and supported the African National Congress in its attempt to rid South Africa of Apartheid and a National Party regime that Britain simply would not denounce. These have shaped my views towards Conservatism in the UK , and Margaret Thatcher in particular.
Do i believe she was a patriot? Yes.
Do i believe she was evil? No.
Do i believe that as Prime Minister she had the interests of all Britons at heart? No.
Her legacies ? She left Britain without equality. She left Britain a more selfish place. She killed off British Industry . She left Britain with an over reliance on financial markets. She killed the notion of camaraderie and community in Britain. She left many wealthier financially but many more poorer financially and morally.
Breaking down communities creates selfishness and irreverence. In towns, cities, regions,and countries.
Have a look at Twitter in the UK. A healthy, understanding, compassionate society? Or a selfish, fractured , soulless , angry place?
I think its the latter, and a lot of that lays firmly at the door of Margaret Thatcher and her policies over 3 election wins.
Thoughts as always welcomed.