Can’t watch any television or listen to radio today because of the obsequious wall-to-wall coverage of that nauseating public charade down in St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s taken some time for my feelings to settle down a bit in the wake of Thatcher’s death (if indeed they have). She certainly affected my life: her attacks on the universities after she first came to power in 1979 meant there were no jobs in that sector as I emerged from postgraduate study, so I headed off to Japan for a few years to escape unemployment here. That hardly compares, I readily acknowledge, to her brutal impact on British shipbuilders or steel workers or, above all, on our mining communities, which she was vindictively determined to destroy in retaliation for their role in bringing down Ted Heath’s government.
So I shall have a quiet stroll into town and buy a copy of the Communist Party daily newspaper The Morning Star from W.H. Smiths and the bi-monthly radical magazine Red Pepper from our local wholefood store Single Step. Important to keep the print organs of the Left in reasonable working order, as Morris himself knew in investing so much time, effort and money in first Justice and then Commonweal. Here are the voices arguing for a decent, just, caring, neighbourly society, against the rapacious, violent, grotesquely unequal, growth-obsessed England that Thatcher inaugurated for us as she attacked the post-war Welfare State consensus in the 1980s. Back to Victorian values indeed: Carlyle, Ruskin, Dickens and Morris would all have recognised a world in which a failed banker today retires on a pension of £580,000 a year - the sheer unthinkable greed of these people! - while disabled benefit claimants are subject to the new ‘bedroom tax’. Margaret Thatcher herself is (after today) no longer very important, but the long neo-liberal counter-revolution alas continues.