My social media feeds are blowing up right now. They range from somber and reverent remembrances of a fellow human, to explosions of anger that stem from still-unhealed wounds caused by her policies.
I'm never going to rejoice in the death of another human being, though I tend to prefer wakes to funerals, so I'm not much for reverence.
Now that Thatcher has died, I want to tell the truth about her life, and her legacy.
Margaret Thatcher could have taught the Tea Party a thing or two about crying "socialism" whenever someone suggested a policy she disagreed with.
Her policies were first wave austerity. They're exactly what we are seeing across europe, and they were far harsher than even Ronald Reagan's economic policies. Thatcher destroyed whole industries in places like Wales and Scotland just to be rid of the unions supported by those industries.
The result has been generational unemployment in places like Glasgow. The increased value of the pound under Margaret thatcher benefited those wealthy constituencies she represented, but destroyed her nation's industrial infrastructure.
Her policies were not the result of any economic miracle. They were not the triumph of right wing ideology over left wing ideology. They were based on what Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has called the greatest case of international larceny in history: the use of Scottish oil and Welsh mineral wealth, to enrich the wealthy parts of England. So too, the privatization of institutions paid for by the British Public with their tax money enriched the British ruling class.
Thatcher's behavior in Northern Ireland created great sympathy for the IRA, and made peace impossible for a time. Her actions legitimized Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, which began to win elections both in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland.
Thatcher: Crime is Crime is Crime, it is not political, it is crime. There can be no question of granting political status. I just hope that anyone who is on hunger strike for his own sake will see fit to come off hunger strike. But that is a matter for him.Indefinite detention and the loss of political prisoner status led an admitted IRA member, Bobby Sands, to be elected to parliament from a prison cell. Sinn Fein is still politically active in both Irish and UK politics.
As for Scotland, the policies of Margaret Thatcher and John Major led to devolution. In order to shore up support in Scotland against the Nationalists, Tony Blair promised Scotland a return of the Scottish Parliament.
John Major, Thatcher's successor, called the end of his campaign in 1997 "72 Hours to Save the Union. He argued that the revival of the Scottish Parliament would give the SNP a route to Government.
The proportional representation voting system of the Scottish Parliament was intentionally designed to make it extremely difficult for one party to gain an overall majority. It was intended to make coalitions the only way to achieve anything.
Yet here we are today, with an independence referendum on the way. In 2007, ten years after John Major declared his 72 Hours to Save the Union, the nationalists won control of the Scottish Parliament, and in 2011 they defied all odds to win an overall majority. Major was right, in a way. After Thatcher, giving the Scottish people the right to govern themselves meant the end of the United Kingdom.
It is now no longer a question of if, but when Scotland will become independent. The Scottish Nationalists have been fighting for independence since the ink was dry on the treaty of Union. Thatcher's treatment of Scotland guaranteed the near destruction of any support for the conservative party north of the border, and now that Devolution has occurred, it is only a matter of time before the Nationalists win independence. If not in 2014, then the next time.
Out of 59 seats in Scotland, only one is held by a Tory. So poisonous is conservative thought in the Scottish mind thanks to Thatcher, that it even affects other parties. Because they allied with the conservatives in Westminster, the Liberal Democrats were wiped out in Mainland Scotland in the last election. They hold only two seats in Holyrood, both from their strongholds in Shetland and Orkney.
The Scottish Nationalists are political progressives, and this makes them a centrist party in Scotland, between the Socialists of Scottish Labour and the Austerity-prone tory-lite party, the Liberal Democrats. As I point out any time I discuss them, they are unusual as a nationalist party for being anti-racist, with the first Muslim member of the Scottish Parliament being a member of the SNP.
And so here we stand at the end of the Era of Thatcher, looking back. The UK is tearing itself apart, the Conservative party can't win an election without entering into a coalition, and Sinn Fein holds five seats in the house of commons.
And so we bid farewell to a woman whose policies, it is safe to say, were an unmitigated disaster not just for the nations of the British Isles, but for her own party as well.
But don't expect to read that in the British Press.
11:45 AM PT: Update There's a party going on in St George Square in Glasgow.
The city council has urged people to stay away, and has shut down the city-owned webcam. The last image shows a crowd beginning to gather:
A lot of working class people were very badly hurt, and are still hurting, because of the damage done to Glasgow by Margaret Thatcher's policies. This is an expression of that pain and hurt, which even today is still very raw.
Yes, it's wrong to celebrate someone's death. Yes, it's politically unwise. Yes, the optics are terrible. Yes, family members do deserve a level of respect in a time of mourning.
But we're talking about places where, because of Thatcher, generational unemployment is a reality. The wounds from her leadership are still fresh, because these wounds have not yet been healed.
You should expect reports of similar parties occurring across working class areas of Britain both tonight, and in the days to come.