Our Crack Tongue & Groove
He’s not getting off with it that easily
While enjoying a day out at the Durham Miners’ Gala recently, I noticed, among the many ‘Justice For Orgreave’ and ‘This is what a trade unionist looks like’ t-shirts, a good few tops proclaiming ‘Still Hate Thatcher’. Fair enough, I thought. Here was a person who set in motion a disastrous series of policies that favoured the rich at the expense of everyone else. Hate is a strong word, but if you’ve got any hate going spare then Thatcher seems a good as recipient for it as anyone.
But while I basked in the general ambience of the Gala, high on brass bands pumping out elegiac versions of All About That Bass, and beer fumes, I pondered on future gatherings, wondering if activists, perhaps yet to be born, would one day attend the Big Meeting wearing t-shirts that blared ‘Still Hate Cameron’. Because they should. For make no mistake, Cameron’s governments were just as pernicious as Thatcher’s.He, along with his water-damaged android sidekick, George Osborne, used the deficit as an excuse to foist austerity measures on the majority of the population in what historians will surely judge as one of the greatest injustices in the history of our nation. The rich and powerful who caused the crash - the investment bankers and other financial elites (or the “socially useless” as Bank of England boss Mark Carney calls them) – received unprecedented state aid while Sure Start centres, libraries, swimming pools, women’s refuges, and countless other vital services were shut down, labelled unaffordable.
The disabled and most vulnerable people in our society had their support slashed, while the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the country doubled. Cuts to social security and regressive measures such as the bedroom tax led to one million people having to use food banks to feed themselves and their families. Huge swathes of the public sector was privatised, while the ill-conceived Health and Social Care Act demanded that all service provision now be put out to tender, meaning that more and more private companies are now getting their snouts in the trough, worried about their bottom line rather than curing patients. Homelessness has doubled (which has led to the shameful rise of constructors placing anti-homeless spikes in building entrances, similar to those designed to keep pigeons off ledges) while conservation measures have been trashed, dismissed by Cameron as “green crap”.
Under Thatcher it was single-mothers that got it in the neck, but under Cameron anyone that was poor got castigated as a “shirker”. And when he called refugees fleeing warzones “a bunch of migrants” he dehumanised all foreigners, legitimised racism and a general fear of the other, and helped create a climate that facilitated our EU exit. Hoist by his own hammy petard.
Thatcher said that there was no such thing as society, but Cameron is the man who really set about dismantling it.