Workers’ Liberty activists Karen Waddington and Jean Lane appeared on the BBC’s Big Question debate programme on Sunday 14 April, discussing Thatcher’s death.
Karen and Jean were involved in Women Against Pit Closures and other class-struggle activity during Thatcher’s government. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah also appeared on the show.
Nothing changed for me the day Thatcher died. My local authority is still suffering from cuts, and people in my village are still suffering from the devastation caused by Thatcher’s pit closures.
Cameron is still carrying on her policies. Before 2010, my village had funds available for repairs and improvements. When Cameron was elected, that money was cut.
I think the celebrations we’ve seen over the past week have been quite muted.
If she’d died a few years ago, closer to the events of the miners’ strike, we’d have seen a lot more. When you look at what she did to working-class people, to trade unions, to women — she destroyed the lives of working-class people. I haven’t been out dancing in the street but I understand why people would.
Thatcher has died, but Thatcherism is still with us. When anyone dies, their immediate family is bound to feel sadness and in a sense you can feel compassion. But Thatcher was a public figure whose decision affected millions of working-class people, and whose policies are still causing suffering today. People were celebrating the death of Thatcher because they saw it as one step along the way to getting rid of a system that destroy people’s lives, that turns young people’s lives to desolation. That’s what she did, and that’s what the policies are still doing.
There’s an element of hypocrisy here. Our news cameras go to other countries and film people celebrating the deaths of their leaders, and it’s just seen as a spectacle.
People say “Thatcher’s dead, and we should respect her”. But she didn’t respect us when we were dying.
I couldn’t walk the streets of London or Birmingham when Thatcher was around. Her “sus laws”, a law of suspicion, were used to stop black people. I remember being stopped four times in one night.
When people died at Hillsborough, Thatcher knew the police were corrupt and lying, and she colluded in the cover-up.
Her biggest legacy, as stated by her supporters, was privatisation. If we really want to honour her, why don’t we privatise her funeral?