Friday, 4 October 2013

Did Margaret Thatcher hate Britain?

Just a thought that occurred to me while replying to an earlier post on the Ralph Miliband furore (is it a furore, yet, or is it still just a brouhaha?)

The Daily Mail's case - if you could call it that - against Ralph Miliband is based on two pieces of evidence.  Exhibit one is his diary entry where he rails against the insularity and chauvinism of the English people he encountered, and their narrow-minded anti-European attitude.  That is not hatred of Britain, but a hatred of a old fashioned, self-satisfied perspective which Miliband could see was already consigned to Trotsky's dustbin of history.

And he was quite right to be contemptuous of it.  Small mindedness, nostalgia and bigoted dislike of foreigners are all hateful attitudes.

His comment about wishing Britain would lose the war seems shocking, but has to be understood in relation to the above.  Miliband is not expressing a genuine desire for Britain to be defeated and for Nazi jackboots to trample all over fair Albion.  That would be a rather stupid thing for a Jewish refugee, who had already had one very narrow escape from the Nazis, to desire.  Rather, he is expressing his frustration with the aforementioned attitude, the complacenty of the British, secure behind their channel, feeding off their Empire, and convinced that nothing - NOTHING - can possibly happen to dislodge Britainnia from her proud place as the greatest nation on Earth - another shabby delusion Miliband could see had outlived whatever dubious truth it had ever enjoyed.

So there is nothing there, really, to justify the Mail's berserk accusation that Miliband hated Britain.

The second line off attack by the Mail is that Miliband longed to reform Britain, which is not surprising when he saw it as so dog eared and fusty.  In this, of course, he was not alone, as the electorate of Britain voted in a reformist Labour government at the first opportunity after that messy business with Hitler was concluded.  Did the 11,967,746 people who voted for Attlee's labour party in 1945 also hate Britain?  Of course not.  Many of them, like Ralph Miliband had been fighting to save it from Hitler, and once that job was done they got on with the matter of making Britain better.

That involved making a lot of changes and doing a way with a lot of things that may have been cherished by the reactionaries and the small minded little Englanders that Miliband expressed such contempt for; but they had enjoyed having their own way far too long.

So is calling for disruption to The Way Things Are And Have Always Been really synonymous with hating Britain?  If so, then Margaret thatcher must have truly hated Britain with a passion, as no-one did more in the 20th century to change it.  Smashing the 'traditional power' of the trade unions, breaking up the old state monopolies, turning London into a modern financial hub, trashing old heavy industries, opening the country to the ambivalent blessings of globalisation ... Almost everything she did would have been decried by the Little Englanders of Miliband's youth, and their successors, who ironically clung to the vision ofMiliband and Attlee as The Way Things Are And Have Always Been.

Of course Thatcher did not hate Britain.  She was, in her own way, a partriot, and while I disagree with her on almost every point (perhaps only finding some common ground over the Falklands - which, oddly would put me at odds with Miliband) I accept she acted in what she thought - in her narrow ideological way - was the interest of the country.  This is why I posted nothing when she died.  Her day had been, whatever damage she did was history, and she even if she was wrong she thought what she was doing was right, and good for the country.

It's a little thing called integrity, and both Thatcher and Ralph Miliband had it, in their own ways.

Unlike the stinking self important yahoos of the left like George Galloway and the idiots who were not even born when Thatcher was deposed. They made themselves as low as Dacre and his nasty minded 'journalists' who smear and misrepresent Ralph Miliband to turn people against his son.

Fortunately it seems both camps are equally stupid, as the revulsion their behaviour has provoked shows.  Galloway proved nothing by gloating over Thatcher's death, other than proving he is a loathsome fool who revelled in the death of an old woman.  Equally, Dacre and those who have followed his lead have shown only that they are as devoid of principle and decency as Galloway.

That is not an accomplishment for anyone to be proud of.

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