Margaret Thatcher’s Criminal Legacy
By Finian Cunningham
Clearing House" -
Hours after the death of former British prime minister
Margaret Thatcher, the history books are being re-written
and the beatification of the Iron Lady is well underway.
British premier David Cameron praised Lady Thatcher for having
“saved Britain” and for making the has-been colonial power
Tributes poured forth from French and German leaders, Francoise
Hollande and Angela Merkel, while US President Barack Obama said
America had lost a “special friend”.
Former American secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former
Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev also lamented the loss of “an
historic world figure”. Polish ex-president Lech Walesa hailed
Margaret Thatcher for having brought down the Soviet Union and
Such fulsome praise may be expected coming from so many war
criminals. But it is instructive of how history is written by
the victors and criminals in high office. Obama, Cameron,
Hollande and Merkel should all be arraigned and prosecuted for
war crimes in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan,
Somalia and Mali, among other places. Kissinger has long evaded
justice for over four decades for his role in the US genocide in
Southeast Asia during the so-called Vietnam War in which over
three million people were obliterated in Vietnam, Laos and
The British state is to give Thatcher, who died this week aged
87, a full military-honours funeral. The praise, eulogies,
wreaths and ceremonies are all self-indictments of association
with one of the most ruthless and criminal political figures in
So, here is a people’s history of Thatcher’s legacy.
She will be remembered for colluding with the most reactionary
elements of Rupert Murdoch’s squalid media empire to launch a
war over the Malvinas Islands in 1982, a war that caused
hundreds of lives and involved the gratuitous sinking of an
Argentine warship, the Belgrano,
by a British submarine.
By declaring war, rather than conducting political negotiations
with Argentina over Britain’s ongoing colonial possession of the
Malvinas, Thatcher salvaged her waning public support in
Britain, and the bloodletting helped catapult her into a second
term of office in Downing Street. Her political “greatness” that
so many Western leaders now eulogize was therefore paid in part
by the lives of Argentine and British soldiers, and by
bequeathing an ongoing source of conflict in the South Atlantic.
It wasn’t just foreigners that Thatcher declared war on. Armed
with her snake-oil economic policies of privatisation,
deregulation, unleashing finance capitalism, pump-priming the
rich with tax awards subsidised by the ordinary working
population, Thatcher declared war on the British people
themselves. She famously proclaimed that “there was no such
thing as society” and went on to oversee an explosion in the gap
between rich and poor and the demolition of social conditions in
Britain. That legacy has been amplified by both successive
Conservative and Labour governments and is central to today’s
social meltdown in Britain - more than two decades after
Thatcher resigned. Laughably, David Cameron, a protégé of
Thatcher, claims that she “saved” Britain. The truth is Thatcher
accelerated the sinking of British capitalism and society at
large. What she ordered for the Belgrano has in a very real way
come to be realised for British society at large.
During her second term of office in the mid-1980s, the Iron Lady
declared war on the “enemy within”. She was referring to
Britain’s strongly unionised coal-mining industry. Imagine
declaring war on your own population. That is a measure of her
pathological intolerance towards others who did not happen to
share her obnoxious ideological views - ideological views that
have since become exposed as intellectually and morally
For over a year around 1984, her Orwellian mindset and policies
starved mining communities in the North of England into
submission. Her use of paramilitary police violence also broke
the resolve and legitimate rights of these communities. Miners’
leader Arthur Scargill would later be vindicated in the eyes of
ordinary people, if not in the eyes of the mainstream media.
Britain’s coalmines were systematically shut down, thousands of
workers would be made unemployed, and entire communities were
thrown on the social scrap heap. All this violence and misery
was the price for Thatcher’s ideological war against working
people and their political rights.
The class war that Thatcher unleashed in Britain is still
raging. The rich have become richer, the poor decidedly more
numerous and poorer. The decimation of workers’ rights and the
unfettered power given to finance capital were hallmarks of
Thatcher’s legacy and are to this day hallmarks of Britain’s
current social decay. But that destructive legacy goes well
beyond Britain. The rightwing nihilistic capitalism that
Thatcher gave vent to was and became a zeitgeist for North
America, Europe and globally. The economic malaise that is
currently plaguing the world can be traced directly to such
ideologues as Margaret Thatcher and former US President Ronald
A final word on Thatcher’s real legacy, as opposed to the fakery
from fellow war criminals, is her role in Ireland’s conflict.
Her epitaph of “Iron Lady” is often said with admiration or even
sneaking regard for her supposed virtues of determination and
strength. In truth, her “iron” character was simply malevolent,
as can be seen from her policies towards the Irish struggle for
independence from Britain. In 1981, 10 Irish republican
prisoners, led by a young Belfast man by the name of Bobby
Sands, died from hunger strikes. The men died after more than 50
days of refusing prison food because they were demanding to be
treated as political prisoners, not as criminals. Thatcher
refused to yield to their demands, denouncing them as criminals
and callously claiming that they “took their own lives”. No
matter that Bobby Sands had been elected by tens of thousands of
Irish voters to the British House of Parliament during his
hunger strike. He was merely a criminal who deserved to die,
according to the cold, unfeeling Thatcher.
As a result of Thatcher’s intransigence to negotiate Irish
rights, the violence in the North of Ireland would escalate over
the next decade, claiming thousands of lives. As with Las
Malvinas dispute with Argentina, Thatcher deliberately took the
military option and, with that, countless lives, rather than
engage in reasoned, mutual dialogue. Her arrogance and obduracy
blinded her to any other possibility.
As the violence gyrated in Ireland, Thatcher would also embrace
the criminal policy of colluding with pro-British death squads.
Armed,funded and directed by British intelligence, these death
squads would in subsequent years kill hundreds of innocent
people - with the knowledge and tacit approval of Lady Thatcher.
It was a policy of British state terrorism in action, sanctioned
by Thatcher. One of those victims was Belfast lawyer Pat
Finucane, who was murdered in February 1989. He was shot 12
times in the head in front of his wife and children by a British
death squad, after the killers smashed their way into the
Finucane home on a Sunday afternoon.
Thus whether in her dealings with Las Malvinas row with
Argentina, the British working people or Irish republicans,
Margaret Thatcher was an intolerant militarist who always
resorted to demagoguery, violence and starvation to get her
political way. She was a criminal fascist who is
now proclaimed to be a national hero.
Reports this week say that Thatcher died with Alzheimer’s, the
brain-degenerating disease in which the patient loses their
faculty for memory. Western leaders, it seems, would also like
to erase public memory of Thatcher’s criminal legacy.