Magazine article The Spectator

While Cowards Flinch

Magazine article The Spectator

While Cowards Flinch

Article excerpt

Yes a few drunken anarchists danced, but most of the left marked Thatcher's death with synchronised sycophancy.

I've been scratching my head for the past half hour trying to work out how I would react if I were a Conservative MP and a BBC reporter stuffed a microphone in front of me and told me that Arthur Scargill had just died. I know I wouldn't punch the air, but a syrupy tribute?

I think not. It would go something like this:

'I'm sorry to hear that. Scargill was a charismatic leader to his followers but one whose legacy was to destroy the industry he loved, and all for his own ego.'

Would I expect to be hauled over the coals for saying that? Surely it is not unreasonable to react to the death of a political figure with a genuine assessment of their foibles.

Yet the left's reaction to the death of Lady Thatcher was bizarrely schizophrenic. Handfuls of activists did indeed attempt to create the Mafeking they had promised, with fireworks, balloons and whistles, to name a few of the contents of the party packs put together by the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centre and on sale at last year's TUC conference. Yet the numbers attending impromptu street parties were pathetically small.

Meanwhile, the mainstream left maintained a front of sycophancy. To read through the Twitter accounts of Labour MPs one might have thought they were paying tribute to Fidel Castro.

'My condolence to the Thatcher family, ' swooned Harriet Harman. 'First woman PM, a towering figure.' Yes, this is the same Harriet Harman who, when spending our money on a 'Women in Power factsheet' to distribute to schools in 2009, omitted to mention Mrs Thatcher at all.

Labour MP Chris Bryant put out an almost identical tweet: 'Warm condolences to the extended Thatcher family. A towering figure who was never afraid of controversy.'

This from a man who told the Independent in 2010: 'It was when I saw the effect of ent ent Mrs Thatcher's policies on our inner cities that I realised Conservatism was divisive, uncaring, economically incompetent and morally wrong.'

Almost simultaneously, the Twitter feed the spectator of former Labour minister David Lammy burst into life, stating: 'RIP Margaret Thatcher. Whatever you think of her she will remain a political giant. End of an era.' All from a man who remembered in the New Statesman recently the 'tears of joy' he had cried when he heard she had resigned as Prime Minister. …

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