On January 30th 1978, the day my son was born, Margaret Thatcher charmingly told white TV viewers their country was in danger of being “swamped” by other cultures. Enoch Powell’s gory warnings about black and Asian immigration were rebranded and detoxified by the wily, well groomed, Lady Tory and embedded in the nation’s psyche. Her words were calculated, and won her populist support and admirers within her party. Sixteen months later she became PM.
In the ceaseless cacophony following her death, scant attention has been paid to her supremacist views of Empire (Bruge Speech, 1992) or the race riots, or the many deaths in custody of black men, or government-sanctioned unfair policing, or her deep hostility to immigrants of colour or concomitant warmth towards white Zimbabweans and South Africans. As the blogger Jacqueline Scott writes: “Racism fattened under Thatcher”. Forgotten too is her vendetta against the GLC and ILEA, those London bodies that did not fall in line with her little-Englandism. The politically correct, radical right has silenced all such talk and much more besides.
Make no mistake, the most intolerant, Stalinist and insistently PC forces today are on the right, not on the so called “loony left”. Last week the right hysterically attacked the Diana Fund for supporting a pro-immigration organisation. Diana was a friend to the outsider and the despised; yet those she was close to are kicking off about this funding. The same reactionary battalions stopped the BBC from fully playing a song that legitimately got into the top of the charts, because it “insults” the hallowed Tory matriarch. Most of our newspapers are on the right and they push, and sometimes bully, broadcasters into that same ideological space. Fearful of bad headlines, the BBC meekly accommodates their propaganda – and so the right gets bolder and more demanding.
I was on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff as a panellist all week and expressed unfashionably critical assessments of the Thatcher era. Some of the reactions I received made me wonder if I should better conceal or disguise my deeply-held socialist, anti-racist views. Walking through Whiteleys, where the programmes are recorded, a group crowded and abused me. Some were racist, others insulting or filthy. It was horrible. Back home, onto my screen came more from the rabid-right PC brigade. They are offended by anyone who disagrees. Dissent, to them, is treason, an embodiment of the enemy within (Lady Thatcher’s term for striking miners).
Every day we, the people, are instructed on what we should say, think and feel. To belong, we must not only praise Lady Thatcher for her greatness, but also be foolish, doting royalists, hate the poor, approve of welfare cuts, hate the unions, reject the principle of equality and proclaim immigration as a threat. Lady Thatcher, the Boudicca of the fanatical right, reclaimed the kingdom for them and they remain powerful, unbeatable and unbearable.