i Editor's Letter: Can we talk about something else now?


Click to follow
The Independent Online


Can we talk about something else now? Perhaps perversely, I think it’s been good for the whole country to be consumed with debate over Thatcher’s legacy: from the council house sell-off to the Falklands conflict; the miners and Wapping disputes to the end of the Cold War. Never mind the media coverage, there’s been barely a pub, an office or a classroom that has not witnessed heated arguments over “that woman”, “the Iron Lady”.

It’s one of the reasons why I like the idea of prime ministerial libraries along the lines of US presidential ones. Like it or not, eras are in part defined by who governed. Not always, but in the case of Mrs Thatcher or Ted Heath or Clement Attlee, how fascinating would that be?

Would that we were as engaged in contemporary politics. Unfortunately, one of our problems today is that we are not governed by a “towering figure” with whom those who are not political geeks can engage – if I can say that without party bias. I don’t believe Gordon Brown, John Major, Jim Callaghan, Harold Wilson or the above-mentioned Heath were giants either, but that’s not to say their eras were not fascinating.

We know so little of our recent history. It was like that when I was at school too, but back then there was a lot less history to learn (Boom!). But, it’s still that way. I know things need a historical context, I know there’s a need to know why the Magna Carta matters, but what about the three-day week, the winter of discontent and the ERM?

Give us more politics and history, not less. It sure beats keeping up with those Kardashians.