Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Thatcher

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  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Perhaps that's a 20th Century lesson: don't allow your economy to degrade so terribly that it appears that extremists are the only people who can fix it.

    Franklin Roosevelt mercifully averted this, although it took WW2 for a full recovery. Weimar Germany, on the other hand, was probably the most infamous manifestation of this.

    In Britain, the infamous British Leyland conglomerate is an ideal example. These days, millions of cars are still made in Britain - but it's telling that most of the volume-produced ones aren't British nameplates. It had as much to do with out-of-touch management and bungled merging, as it did Red Robbo's shit-stirring.

    If today's GFC gets even worse, what would be the polar opposite of Thatcher busting the unions? Unbundling the monopolies and cartels?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    "I fully intend to piss on her grave (no matter how long the queue) and believe me she’s still getting off lightly.”

    Banks might like to show some fucking decency and remember his partner is going to be visiting his grave in a few months, Perhaps I should show my disdain for anyone who chunters on about desecrating anyone's grave by paying my disrespects with a diuretic and a full bladder, but that's creepy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called some of the actions of the para-military organisation he founded, and would not denounce, a "gross violation of human rights". Of the 200 civilians who died in its terror, 140 were black.

    Perhaps we should get this right. The exact quote, given at a press conference at the 1987 Commonwealth Summit in Vancouver, is this:

    Just before you, I just remembered I did not answer the second part of the previous question put to me about the ANC, when the ANC says that they will target British companies. This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is. I fought terrorism all my life and if more people fought it, and we were all more successful, we should not have it and I hope that everyone in this hall will think it is right to go on fighting terrorism. They will if they believe in democracy.

    The ANC's militant wing, MK, certainly committed multiple acts of terrorism, but whether the ANC was a "typical" terrorist organisation is debatable, given that it enjoyed mass membership and was already widely seen as a government in waiting. (Mandela does not appear to have planned or participated in any acts of terror, largely on account of having been in prison since 1964, although when he was at large he did countenance that resort to terrorism might be necessary in future.)

    More significant was her long and trenchant opposition to economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa, which I think does put her on the wrong side of history, and certainly made Britain an outlier in the Commonwealth. She saw the regime as a bulwark against communism.

    She changed her mind about the ANC and Mandela at the eleventh hour. In December 1989, she wrote this in the Sunday Express:

    In southern Africa, which I visited earlier this year, freedom and democracy are on the march. After the successful election in Namibia the release of Nelson Mandela, which I hope to see in 1990, would surely speed the end of the decaying system of apartheid in South Africa. And we are working hard for peace and reform in Angola and Mozambique, too.

    Margaret Thatcher -- terrorist-lover!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And frankly, when Mandela dies I suspect he's going to end up being a lot like Thatcher in this respect -- when the dust settles, his life is going to be a lot more nuanced and ambiguous that his fans or detractors will comfortably admit. That's how clear-eyed history tends to work.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Glenn Greenwald sums it up best for me: if you’re a public figure like a politician, then you’re open for criticism when you’re alive, and when you’re dead. To declare otherwise is usually an attempt to further an agenda and often rankly hypocritical. I don’t recall anyone buttoning their lips ‘out of respect’ when Hugo Chavez died, and I really doubt that they will when Castro kicks it.

    I've had an awful lot of links to that in my Twitter feed over the last 24 hours, and the more I look at it the more I come to wonder if Greenwald has adroitly torched a straw Miss Manners.

    And just for the record, Rich, when Chavez died I did ask a few Tweeps to tone down the "piss on his grave"-style rhetoric. I'd also respectfully suggest Greenwald has the dick privilege to not see the pretty rancid and intensely gendered shit that got thrown at Thatcher. And still does at any "aggressive" ANGRY un-woman in politics -- from Gillard through Hillary Clinton to Angela Merkel.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The ANC’s militant wing, MK, certainly committed multiple acts of terrorism, but whether the ANC was a “typical” terrorist organisation is debatable

    I was talking about MK, of which (Wikipedia at least claims =) Mandela was a founding member.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Perhaps that’s a 20th Century lesson: don’t allow your economy to degrade so terribly that it appears that extremists are the only people who can fix it.

    Must ... not ... Godwin ...

    Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Homer,

    Long Walk to Freedom discusses all that fairly candidly, and if anything you’d think it would downplay it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I think that Washington's revolutionary irregulars were considered terrorists by the British, they didn't stand up in ranks and march into fire in battle like men, they hid behind trees and took potshots

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I think that Washington’s revolutionary irregulars were considered terrorists by the British,

    Of course they were considered terrorists (and traitors to boot) - their actions weren't called the American Revolution because it tested really well with the focus group.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    yes ,who's a terrorist depends on who's writing the history

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Fox,

    I was going to wait for the dust to settle to gather my thoughts and commnent here about may own experiences growing up and living in Thatcher's Britain but Russell Brand has done it far more eloquently than I ever could
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/09/russell-brand-margaret-thatcher

    Since Nov 2006 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Are people still all being surprised that Russell Brand is a good writer and a deep thinker?

    Interestingly, one mate of mine, a proper leftie, in his heyday all Red Wedge and right-on punch-ups, was melancholy. "I thought I'd be overjoyed, but really it's just... another one bites the dust..." This demonstrates I suppose that if you opposed Thatcher's ideas it is likely because of their lack of compassion, which is really just a word for love. If love is something you cherish it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one's enemies.

    And on Thatcher and feminism:

    It always struck me as peculiar, too, when the Spice Girls briefly championed Thatcher as an early example of Girl Power. I don't see that. She is an anomaly, a product of the freak-conomy of her time. Barack Obama interestingly said in his statement that she had "broken the glass ceiling for other women." Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Robert Fox,

    Ha, snap.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I was talking about MK, of which (Wikipedia at least claims =) Mandela was a founding member.

    Yeah, he was -- and he backed sabotage and even countenanced terrorism as an extreme option. MK was initially a separate group but came to be regarded as the ANC's militant wing.

    But I was just trying to sort out the claims. I don't think that Thatcher's claim about the ANC being "a typical terrorist organisation" was accurate, given that by 1987 everyone knew it was the government in waiting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Marvel's Wolverine put it best for me: "Terrorist is just what the big army calls the little army".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    No one's mentioned Thatcher's specific antigay period, during Clause 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, in response to the inclusive policies of the Labour Left-led Greater London Council. It may have been a paper tiger, but UK Christian Right groups like the fundamentalist "Christian Institute" later tried to use it to stop local councils from supporting local HIV prevention programmes, and providing ameliorative social services to lesbians and gay men, as well as inclusive educational curricula.

    It fell to her successor, John Major, to preside over the long overdue reduction of the gay male age of consent from twenty one to eighteen, and for the Blair administration to legislate for age of consent equality at sixteeen, a mistake that New Zealand fortunately never made.

    Here's my take on her legacy:

    http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/31/article_13148.php

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    It fell to her successor, John Major, to preside over the long overdue reduction of the gay male age of consent from twenty one to eighteen, and for the Blair administration to legislate for age of consent equality at sixteeen, a mistake that New Zealand fortunately never made.

    Fairness would dictate an acknowledgement that Thatcher did support decriminalisation of homosexuality long before that was a mainstream position in the Conservative Party, as far back as the 60s. But she pretty much trashed that with her full-throated support for Section 28 and more particularly the party conference speech where she mocked the very idea of anyone having a “right” to be gay. I was living in London at the time, and it really was vile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I can't find her in the voting list for the second reading of the relevant legislation:
    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1966/feb/11/sexual-offences-bill

    (In the UK parliament, second readings are the key one. They do have a system of "pairing" which may mean that she didn't have to vote because paired with an opponent of the Bill.)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Also from Brand

    but it seems Thatcher's time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most

    Which seems awfully familiar.

    I think asking people to be above celebrating her death is failing to acknowledge just how much harm she did ... individually to real people with real lives. I may not condone pissing on her grave but I understand the emotion that leads people to that.

    She led a government that did very real personal harm to very many people. That some of them are genuinely still bitter ... that doesn't explain the block parties by folks were weren't even born then.

    I was at university half a world away and focussed very much on getting full of knowledge, but even so I remember riots in Britain ... WTF! Britain was civilised, how could they have riots?

    Yes some things were a mess, but it wasn't necessary to use the methods she and her government used in order to make the changes Britain did indeed need to make. They chose a path they knew would cause significant personal harm - and forty years later some of those people remember the very personal harm for which she was responsible. Yeah it's Ok that those people are still angry.

    That might be a lesson that some of our current politicians might learn before they choose the path of most harm.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    ...the clemency and respect ... are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate

    (From Russell Brand's piece in The Guardian)

    This is why I loathe Maggie Thatcher and all who sailed with her. Brand nails the core dysfunction of her politics and her political style. It is nothing whatever to do with gender: I am infuriated that you are trying to pin my abhorrence of her style and her political beliefs on her being an aggressive woman. Unlike you, I lived for years under Thatcher and felt and saw the consequences of her policies on me and my closest friends.

    Please do not try to pull a gender politics smokescreen over total political diasgreement.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    yes ,who’s a terrorist depends on who’s writing the history

    And pace Morrissey and the IRA, “freedom fighters” is what you call people who aren’t strenuously trying to murder you and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity at the time. (I wish Our Steve would put as much effort into making music that isn't akin to be fucked in the earhole with a factory farmed bratwurst as he does into troll-tastic interviews.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fairness would dictate an acknowledgement that Thatcher did support decriminalisation of homosexuality long before that was a mainstream position in the Conservative Party, as far back as the 60s.

    I think I have expressed here before my surprise at finding out what Enoch Powell was all about, instead of just the River of Blood headline: co-sponsiring bills on the decriminalisation of homosexuality as far back as the 60s, opposition to the death penalty, and corporal punishment in schools, support for unilateral nuclear disarmament, no fault divorce and relaxation of abortion law etc.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hebe,

    I lived for years under Thatcher and felt and saw the consequences of her policies on me and my closest friends.

    Me too. You did rather feel like The Enemy at the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    feel like The Enemy

    here ya go...
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5046 posts Report Reply

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