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The Old Leftie

It
all went off brilliantly. 

Of
course it did; the Brits can organize this kind of occasion in their sleep,
funerals especially so. 

Margaret
Thatcher would have been pleased as punch, though one imagines she might have
been a little disappointed that there were so few demonstrations of dissent
along the funeral route.  If there had
been, one can hear the muffled voice coming from the coffin, “You protest if
you want to; the lady’s for interring”.  

Yes,
of course I watched it (on television, I should add) despite the assertion of a
couple of left-wing friends of long-standing that doing so was somehow, in
someone they once considered a fellow-traveller, a traitorous act. 

By
watching it, apparently, I undermined their ‘repugnance’ that the wicked old
reactionary had been given a quasi state funeral.  Well, it’s true that the BBC commentators
adopted the same insufferably solemn tones they would normally reserve for a
royal funeral – but aren’t all funerals properly invested with solemnity?  It’s not for Dimbleby and company to arouse
controversy even as the coffin passes by.

The
same pair of friends had recently taken me to task for the offence of ‘ambivalence’
in my responses to Thatcher’s death.  “What
happened to that old CND-marching, union activist, socialist firebrand we used
to know?” they’ve asked.  “You wouldn’t
have asked the old battleaxe in for tea.” 

Well,
the answer is that what happened to the old socialist firebrand is that he grew
up.  Another reason is that I’m not sure the
socialist firebrand ever existed.  It’s
true that I was once, in my youth, a member of the Labour Party, and, yes, I
did go on a couple of ban-the-bomb marches. 

But,
to be honest, I joined the party only to campaign against a particularly odious
right-wing Tory candidate in my constituency (Bromley).  And soon after the election was lost I  drifted away, largely because I’d meanwhile discovered
that the Labour candidate – a devoutly unbending class-obsessed Marxist called
Ron Huzzard – would probably have made an even worse parliamentary
representative than the one elected.

As
for those escapades with the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), I can now
confess that, although I was staunchly against an independent British nuclear
deterrent – and still am – I went to rallies in Trafalgar Square largely in
order to seduce a fragrant fellow-activist named …. I think I’ll withhold her
name as she was the daughter of a well-known actor.  He’s deceased, but she might still be around.

It’s
true that I used to get far more agitated about politics than I do now, but advancing
years are inevitably accompanied by complacency.  Only the young have the energy to save the
world.  

I
was not a huge admirer of Thatcher, or of what some people now call
Thatcherism.  I’d also go so far as to
say her social legacy is far from unblemished. 
I’ve already said so.

But
was she the one-dimensional wicked fairy godmother depicted by so many of her
unforgiving adversaries?  I’m not entirely
convinced.

Anyway,
she’s gone now and, as I ventured in a recent column, the dead are entitled at
least to a brief moratorium on raucous abuse. 
It’s a polite custom we observe in civilised society.   

 

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