I appreciate a woman who won two Oscars for Best Actress, can make one of the most memorable appearances on The Muppet Show, and also captivate British parliament with her sound, coherent, and articulate arguments against free market politics. Labour MP Glenda Jackson vigorously articulates her two cents about Thatcherism in a memorial for Thatcher in Parliament describing the philosophy as having wreaked "heinous, social, economic and spiritual damage upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents."
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died this week and the internet has a lot of opinions about her. Feminist or not, she was influential enough to earn an -ism and that’s saying something. Thatcherism is an aggressive political philosophy:
"At its most crude, Thatcherism represents a belief in free markets and a small state. Rather than planning and regulating business and people's lives, government's job is to get out of the way.
"It should be restricted to the bare essentials: defence of the realm and the currency. Everything else should be left to individuals, to exercise their own choices and take responsibility for their own lives."
Jackson takes aim at the impact of these policies pointing out the resulting poor funding for schools and libraries. "Our school libraries were dominated by empty shelves," she notes. And perhaps most damning is her critique of the deterioration of the health system in the wake of Thatcherism:
"By far, by far the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism was certainly not only in London but across the whole country and metropolitan areas where every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room the bathroom for the homeless. They grew in their thousands and many of those homeless people had been thrown out onto the streets from the closure of the long-term mental hospitals. It was called “care in community.” What in fact it was, was no care at all in the community."
Jackson argues that rather than creating an aspirational society, under Thatcherism all vices were turned to virtue. And the MPs grumble.