Germaine, love, pull yer knickers on and make us a cup of tea

Germaine Greer, writing in today's Guardian, does a stunning and comprehensive hatchet job on Margaret Thatcher, Thatcherism, anybody to do with Thatcher and anybody who once knew somebody who did. This philippic, which has a blunderbuss approach to all around the first female PM (Why was she never known as PMT?) goes into a lot of detail about how unresponsible Thatcher was for Thatcherism and how shitty and supine were her ministers (remember the Vegetables?) Her main thesis is this:

What is clear from any reading of the vast mass of documentation of the Thatcher years is that Thatcher herself is not the author of Thatcherism, which is a thing of shreds and patches. It was put together, as her public persona was, in response to a series of pressures originating in circumstances beyond government control. For years it had been clear that whoever ruled Britain was going to have to deal with the problem of failing industries, excessive public spending, and the power of the elite trade unions. 

I can see Greer's point. Many strong figures in history stand in what Oscar Wilde termed Symbolic Relations to the epoch: Nelson, Hitler, Wilberforce, Churchill, The Borgias, The Beatles, to name but a few, but that is just the point. These were all figures with the strength and personality and talent to light the blue touch paper of change and dynamism - for good or evil. It is a pity that Germaine Greer attributes the latter to one of the greatest Prime Ministers we have ever had. People, as Greer rightly says, coalesced around a figurehead because what happened had to happen.

But it takes more than a figurehead, and this is where the article falls down. That, and the dreary tractor stat roll-call of all the misdemeanors of her nearest and dearest. So, what on the surface appears to be a thorough and coruscating anatomy of Thatcher and her influence is just another hysterical knocking piece; Guardian fodder for the Branch Davidians of politics, with plenty of facts to make it look academic. Some people, plain and simple, were born leaders, regardless of whether or not they had to lose their Lincolnshire accent or lower their public speaking voices (that is the level of the diatribe and times, yes, that the evil Thatcher lost her Lincolnshire accent, which I suppose is on a par with eating the children of asylum seekers). The talent required for leadership is lost on Greer who seems to believe that all Mrs T did was that "she bulldozed and dragooned her cabinet colleagues". Reducing Thatcher to the role of a bully is a cheap shot and quite disingenuous. If you want an example of a bully, why not take a look at recent history and Gordon (bigotgate) Brown.

This Guardian piece is not worthy of an academic or someone with a brain. It's length and primary thesis belies its motive, which at its heart is a visceral hatred of its subject.

Germaine, if you are reading this, try and have a more balanced view of Iron Lady, and, while you are at it, pull yer knickers on, love, and mek us a cup of tea


Jim Baxter said...

Greer just a bitter old bat who has lost what looks she had and now can't stand the fact that nobody fancies her anymore. MT, though not well these days, has worn far better. How Greer must hate her for that.

Ruth@VS said...

I long since stopped reading anything she writes. Maybe she wants to go back to the days when you had to wait 3 months or more to get a telephone installed, or the power cuts when the miners went on strike, or ....

While lots of people still use the word "thatcherite" as an insult, over the years I have gained more respect for what she did. She wasn't perfect, but she moved this country forward enormously.