The Division Lobby

The Aye Division Lobby of the House of CommonsEver since the death of Maggie Thatcher on Monday, the media has bombarded us with questions:

Should she be given a state funeral? Was she the greatest post-war prime minister? Should there have been a minute’s silence before the Manchester derby match? Should the BBC chart show play Ding Dong The Witch is Dead?

The list goes on and there has been no shortage of pundits, politicians and public phone-ins telling us exactly what they think. And the one phrase they all have started or finished with has been: ‘In my opinion…’

But never have I known such diametrically opposite opinions – it is as if they are talking about two different people, one a near messiah and the other the prophesied anti-Christ.

Thatcher's PoliciesAnd it seems that everyone you meet really does have an opinion on the subject. It’s as if the silent majority is in a minority for once and for me this is perhaps the point of Thatcher’s life – she embodied political, social, monetary and industrial policies that completely polarised public opinion.

The pie chart on the right from the Guardian’s ICM poll on her policies illustrates the point. About the only policy with a plus score is the sale of council houses – even if it is the root cause of the current housing crisis.

So, in my opinion, she shouldn’t be given a state funeral because there simply isn’t a precedent for it and setting one is not necessarily a good thing.

If it is because she was successful and won three elections, then Tony Blair should get the same treatment when he pops his clogs, and somehow I can’t see Daily Mail editorials clamouring for that.

Was she our greatest post-war prime minister? In my opinion, no she wasn’t. Great prime minister unite the country and clearly she didn’t. History might treat her better, but even after twenty years there is an incredible rawness.

Should there have been a minute’s silence before the United/City match? In my opinion, definitely not. There wouldn’t have been a cat in hell’s chance of it being observed and the boos of the crowd for Thatcher would have demeaned both.

Should the BBC play Ding Dong The Witch is Dead? In my opinion, probably not but mostly for the BBC’s sake since it is already accused of being institutionally bolshie, plus it wouldn’t be good for the blood pressure of Daily Mail readers.

Sadly the BBC will be damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t with the response from listeners and viewers being split down the middle which  ironically reflects the Thatcher years perfectly.

Stop Press: The BBC has fudged the issue by deciding to play just a five second clip on the chart show, but as a news item to explain why they don’t think it would be in good taste to inflict the whole 58 second track on the listening public.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

11 comments… Add yours
  • Katherine 12th April 2013

    Ian – yours seems to be the voice of reasonable reason. Why do you think she got in for three terms? I don’t really understand politics…

    • Mr Parrot 13th April 2013

      A simple question, but a complicated answer. Partly due to the first past the post voting system which meant that she was elected to power with a minority of the popular vote, but you could say that about almost every UK government.

      She won in 1979 because of all that had gone before under Labour. The 1983 followed the Falklands War and her opposite number was the disheveled Michael Foot (another conviction politician), neither of which did her any harm.

      1987 was the strangest result with Labour under Neil Kinnock managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

  • Trevor Rowley 12th April 2013

    The Guardian’s ICM Poll, eh? What conclusions would you expect the kaftan-wearing, cannabis-smoking, polytechnic lecturers from Hebden Bridge to come up with, anyway? Precisely.

    • Mr Parrot 12th April 2013

      Well it is an ICM poll, a reputable company. And as for Hebden Bridge, isn’t Bernard Ingham its most famous son?

      • Trevor Rowley 13th April 2013

        I wouldn’t question the “reputability” of the company carrying out the poll, Mr P, I’m sure they’re as trustworthy as anyone in that field of work. My point would be around who you are going to invite to take part in your poll. I’m tempted to say that, if the Guardian newspaper commission the poll, they’re bound to want the voting to be aimed at the readership of the Guardian newspaper. They would want the result to please their readership. They’re hardly likely to want the poll results to go against their own views of Maggie are they?

        • Mr Parrot 15th April 2013

          I have a less jaundiced view of opinion companies than you do Trevor! From experience, they take a representative sample of the population to survey and the client cannot influence that. The sample may be weighted of course. For example, if you wanted opinions on the MMR vaccine, you might be more interested in the opinions of people with very young children. I suspect that specifying Guardian readers would have skewed the results far more than we’ve seen!

          • Trevor Rowley 15th April 2013

            Representative sample, my eye! The last thing they would consider doing would be to check out the chavs at Salford Shopping Precinct or the lads on E Wing at Strangeways. For this one, it just had to be the semi-intellectuals. Sorry, Mr P, I remain unconvinced.

  • rhymeswithplague 12th April 2013

    On this side of the pond we rather liked Mrs. Thatcher (except for that nasty episode involving the Falkland Islands), and she was great friends with Ronald Reagan. There’s no explaining our feelings, rather like your country’s infatuation with our Mr. Obama.

    • Mr Parrot 12th April 2013

      To my shame I haven’t mentioned Mrs T’s work on the world stage which to be fair was pretty successful, apart from the odd unfortunate friendships with South American dictators. I’m sure there are some who would have preferred it if she’s spent more time meddling in foreign affairs than those at home, as I suspect you feel about your Mr Obama!

  • Roger Green 13th April 2013

    Those of us on this side of the pond, who were irritated by the deification of her contemporary, Ronald Reagan, are nevertheless fascinated by the vitriol spewed her way. You Brits are a hoot!

  • rhymeswithplague 14th April 2013

    As used by Roger Green to describe the ones spewing all the vitriol about Lady Thatcher, “a hoot” must mean impertinent buggers who bring shame to your mothers, your wives, your children, and your country.


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