With new National Archives information on Margaret Thatcher, it’s clear the Conservative Party has always been intolerant of other cultures

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Friday 28 December 2018 19:38
Thatcher supported the racist apartheid regime and thought Mandela had a ‘rather a closed mind’
Thatcher supported the racist apartheid regime and thought Mandela had a ‘rather a closed mind’

Newly released material from the National Archives give a fresh insight into the twisted xenophobic world view of Margaret Thatcher and her continued influence on today’s Tory Party.

The archives reveal Thatcher’s disappointment with Nelson Mandela, then only recently freed after serving 27 years in South African prisons for fighting apartheid. Thatcher supported the racist apartheid regime and thought Mandela had arather a closed mind following their telephone conversation in July 1990. Thatcher also met England’s 1990 World Cup squad following their exit at the semi-finals that year and told them that unlike other teams, our players did not immediately seek the Oscar for best actor”. Thatcher’s little Englander xenophobia is undisguised.

There is a clear continuity between the Thatcher who blew the dog-whistle of anti-immigrant racism when she spoke of immigrants “swamping” the UK in 1979 and the Thatcher who dismissed the valiant anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as “disappointing”.

There is also clear continuity between the Thatcher who stoked anti-immigrant racism in 1979 and Theresa May, who as home secretary between 2010 and 2016 consciously passed legislation that would create a hostile environment for immigrants and who laid the basis for the Windrush scandal. There is clear continuity between May, who claimed she would deport first and hear appeals after and current home secretary Sajid Javid who has recently proposed immigration legislation so draconian it would have prevented his own father from coming to the UK in the 1960s. More recently, he is displaying his own fitness for leadership of the Tories by suggesting there could be “cultural reasons” for Pakistani grooming gangs.

The newly released material on Thatcher is yet another reminder that the Conservative Party is an institutionally racist organisation in which racism is not only widespread, it’s a near mandatory requirement for membership.

Sasha Simic
London N16

I must congratulate The Independent on the very fine articles from the National Archives focusing on the one around the release of Nelson Mandela. I noted that Margaret Thatcher was slightly disappointed in him.

I would strongly suggest that even before meeting her, Mandela would have been extremely disappointed in our prime minister for not supporting sanctions on the vile apartheid regime over many years.

Robert Boston

According to referendum rules, we must have a final say on Brexit

Theresa May has stated that she and the UK government would honour the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum. What May seems unwilling to recognise is that she has already achieved what the country asked her to do. The referendum was “advisory” and not “mandatory”.

“Advisory” means to consider, take thought of, to reflect on, to recommend. In this context “advisory” applied to the referendum result granted May and her government permission to investigate the options and the impact of taking the UK out of the EU. It was not a mandate to go ahead with any one specific option. That would have been impossible at the time of the referendum because nobody knew what the options would be. In fact I suspect that many, like myself, did not really appreciate the differences or alignments between the EU, single market and the customs union. Indeed not only does May not have a mandate to take the UK out of the EU, at present neither does the government or parliament. The only body that can give that authority now is the electorate because it was the electorate that gave May permission to investigate the options and not parliament.

May was obliged to trigger Article 50 because the EU would not consider any negotiation with the UK until that happened and, because May was forced into that position, it is quite right that Article 50 can be rescinded unilaterally as has already been suggested by senior Conservative members. There is nothing lost or “loss of face” in doing that while the country decides whether the deal that was negotiated is what they really want, and May can claim that she has already achieved what the country asked her to do.

What must not happen is the UK leaving the EU with no deal by default on 29 March. An advisory referendum result was not a mandate for that to happen.

If there is no People’s Vote but the government takes the UK out of the EU, yet the benefits promised in the June 2016 referendum do not materialise and it is the economic forecasts that become a reality, the UK government cannot blame anyone but themselves for not heeding the warnings. Let the British electorate take the responsibility for the future of the country by supporting a second referendum. It is the responsibility of the electorate to make a decision now, not the government or parliament.

Ian Williams

Non-believers like myself should stay away from church on Sundays – and Christmas

I was brought up as a Catholic and went to mass on Sunday, followed, if I remember correctly, by Catechism class. I think it was in this class when I was 11 or 12 that I fell out with the priest and lost my faith. I asked him a question to which he replied that it was not our place to ask searching questions, but simply to put our faith in the Almighty. I continued to go to mass to please my mother but refused to go the class.

On the other hand I continue to believe it important to respect those who still believe. The churches should be for them primarily but others should be able to visit to admire the wonderful architecture of many of our churches. But on Sunday and at other times when the church is occupied by the congregation, non-believers such as myself should not intrude.

Jenny Rampton

The Queen’s speech showed how out of touch she is

The Queen is not normally prone to “faux pas”, but her Christmas message this year certainly was.

At a time when we don’t know the outcome of Brexit and how that will affect our daily lives, and when the rollout of universal credit has had devastating consequences for many families especially over the Christmas period along with the ever increasing numbers of food banks up and down the country, Her Majesty opined her views and hopes for unity amid a backdrop of opulence (including a gold piano).

Maybe the queen is no longer “in touch” with the masses, or maybe she was ill-advised. Whatever the reason, it seems that part of society no longer cares what befalls the other as long as they don’t have to face the consequences.

Alan Barbour

I feel I must somewhat disagree with letter writer John McLorinan (“Right message, wrong messenger”). I am by no means a royalist but I do have a certain respect for a very knowledgeable, well travelled, and certainly well informed wise elderly lady, our head of state, the Queen. No matter what her status or social class, she is first and foremost the matriarch of a very large family, who – as we have all witnessed over many years – are not immune to anything life chooses to send their way be it good or bad. She is a human being with all the sensitivity of most other human beings and deserves respect.

Our useless, self satisfying and egoistical members of parliament would do well to listen to what she has to say. She does have over 60 years’ experience in “the top job” as a well respected diplomat and ambassador to the UK.

CK Younis

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