Personally, I'm unhappy with Brown's mayoralty for quite another reason altogether...its tendency to listen to the bully pulpit when it comes to their recurrent attempts to recriminalise soliciting and street sex work on Hunter's Corner in Papatoetoe and Northcrest Car Park, and seemingly no-one else.
On Pinknews, Peter Tatchell has said this about Thatcher’s own connection to right-wing dictatorships and authoritarian regimes in the eighties:
Throughout the 1980s, Thatcher colluded with the right-wing dictatorships in South Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, Chile, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Indonesia and the Philippines. She and her supporters have glossed over this less than seemly side of her freedom crusade.
Ever the Cold War warrior, a country’s stance in the East versus West struggle for global hegemony was the principle basis of her foreign policy and diplomacy. She also indulged dictators if there was money to be made; hence her love of that bastion of freedom, the House of Saud. She sold them weapons and bought their oil. It was a necessity of realpolitik, she said by way of justification. There was not a jot of concern expressed by her about the plight of women or religious minorities under the iron-fisted rule of King Fahd. Freedom for Saudi women and Christians did not concern her.
At a time when human rights organisations were condemning Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, her government sought to sell arms components to the Iraqi dictator in 1981. Ignoring his poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988, which killed at least 3,000 people, she dispatched her envoy to offer Saddam £340 million in export credits; thereby helping sustain his brutal regime and arguably helping make it possible for him to attack Kuwait and ignite the first Gulf War.
Thatcher was also one of the closest allies of the apartheid leaders in South Africa. Although not personally in favour of apartheid she defended their regime because she saw it as a bulwark against communism. To this end, she believed that black freedom in South Africa had to be sacrificed to what she saw as the more important goal of halting the spread of communism in Africa. She smeared Nelson Mandela as a terrorist when she denounced his liberation movement, the African National Congress, as “a typical terrorist organisation” and vetoed Commonwealth sanctions against the apartheid government. During the savage repression in South Africa in 1984, she hosted the apartheid leader, P W Botha, for tea at Chequers. Just a few years before the fall of apartheid, her spokesman scoffed that it was “cloud cuckoo-land” to suggest that Mr Mandela would ever win power. She was an apologist for the white minority regime, right to the end.
Likewise, for the same anti-communist reasons, Thatcher backed the Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, even after his military government was exposed for interning, torturing and killing liberals and democrats. More than 2,000 Chileans were murdered and over 30,000 tortured. She declined requests to speak out for freedom in Chile; preferring to heap praise on Pinochet’s adoption of her monetarist economic mantras.
Even after the Cold War was over, in 1999, when Pinochet was detained in London on charges of human rights abuses, Thatcher denounced his arrest as “unjust and callous” and praised him for “bringing democracy to Chile.”
Despite similar grave human rights abuses, General Suharto of Indonesia – who murdered 500,000 suspected communists following his 1965 military coup – won accolades from Margaret Thatcher. She hailed him as “one of our very best and most valuable friends” and never spoke out against his arrest and detention of journalists, students and human rights defenders. Far from objecting to the military occupation of unfree East Timor and West Papua, she sold Jakarta weapons that were used to suppress the people there. Hundreds of thousands were killed.
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:
Having updated my own blog on the issue, I can only agree with you, namesake. Apparently, two of Cpl Hughes' straight colleagues ended their lives during the same tour of duty- which leads one to consider that indeed, there obviously are some urgent general operational issues that need to be addressed in this context. Damned good article in the Herald on this subject:
”Defense deaths tied to training gaps” New Zealand Herald: 05.03.2012: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10869239
According to a recent article on Gay Star News, LGBT military suicide appears to be a serious problem in the United States:
“Closeted gay soldiers more likely to attempt suicide” Gay Star News: 01.03.2013: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/closeted-gay-soldiers-more-likely-commit-suicide010313
Granted, we officially ended military service discrimination twenty years ago, back in 1993, but do military policies and procedures reflect that state of affairs? And apparently the NZ military is being shortchanged by the government...
NORML and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis, George, but you're right. They don't seem to realise that they're seen as single-issue zealots, apart from the medicinal cannabis issue. It's sad, really. A serious senior politician needs to sit down with them and tell them the political facts of life.
Which does raise the interesting question of how much overlap currently exists between the Christian Right and the narcoconservative 'anti-drug' pressure groups. Konrad is quite right about the Conservative Party and drug prohibitionism, given recent comments by Colin C on that very matter. They've got a funny way of showing it with alcohol policy, given that when marriage equality emerged as an issue, everything else was immediately neglected (including the Alcohol Law Reform Act).
Still, one does suspect that given marriage equality and adoption reform will mostly conclude LGBT legislative reform apart from more substantive protections for the transgender community, the Christian Right will cast around for something else to depict as A Threat to The Family Unit. I suspect either euthanasia and/or drug policy will be the Moral Panics du jour in that context.
What I'd like to know is why TVNZ's Seven Sharp chose to legitimise faux Investigrunt editor Ian Wishart through interviewing the somewhat dotty fundie about his own rancid sectarian anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. And while we're at it, why didn't anyone ask Wishart about why Investigrunt has no published circulation figures, who really funds it, and its actual ownership?
Which isn't to say that I didn't rather enjoy David's stroll down memory lane. Excellent work.
And being (cough cough hack) somewhere on the grey end of the rainbow is a similar such corrective. I'm becoming olde and crinkly enough to remember these alleged 'good old days' myself and they weren't. I tended to pal around with dykes rather than spend much time with the narrow minded brain dead scene queens of ChCh as it was in the early eighties. And we could do with the brutal and repressive homophobia against PLWAs in the early days of HIV/AIDS, thanks very much.
All social movements tend to go through a utopian stage, as a reflection of their marginality. However, the more effective ones settle down to the hard, practical slog of legislative reform and forming strategic professional alliances to advance pragmatic, incremental objectives. And I speak as one who shouldered his fair share of picket signs back in the day...
Ye goddes, I agree with Namesake again. Must be mellowing in my 'middle youth" (shudder)...
Craig Y :)