Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Legacy of Thatchers Children

The BBC is currently agonising over whether to play Judy Garlands 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead', after a Facebook campaign to propel it into the charts in the wake of Margaret Thatchers death. It's hard to know where to start with this one, but if this is society, then maybe Mrs T was right and we'd be better off without it.

The Bishop of Oxford nailed it yesterdayIt's almost impossible to find moderate opinions, for or against, on her style of leadership. 

Along with appropriate respect for Mrs Thatcher and her family, there's inevitably going to be some attempt to evaluate her legacy. All the usual headlines and newsreel are being replayed over and over: poll tax, Falklands, 'the ladys not for turning' etc. There's an opportunity for something a bit deeper than this, an analysis of what kind of people we've become, and how Thatchers legacy has affected us. There's a supreme irony in the Brixton 'party' ending in the vandalising of a charity shop. Remind me, wasn't our problem with Thatcher that she encouraged selfishness and individualism and didn't care about communities?

Apart from the gross tastlesness of the Garland campaign, there's a massive trick missed here. Why not Billy Bragg, or some of the more thoughtful protest music from the 1980s? Irony has clearly had it's day other wise the Pet Shop Boys 'Opportunities' would be heading back to its rightful place. Having a party or buying an ITunes track on a deregulated internet - Thatcher would be proud of you all, children of hedonism and the free market.

Her passing actually marks the death of an era when politicians believed in something, and had a clear philosophy. Her successors have been pragmatists, with Blair the crown prince. Our politics is now back in the 1970s - a coalition government, and no party offering any kind of radical and principled alternative. Ed Balls saying 'it's not fair' over and over again does not constitute an alternative, and the knee-jerk response to UKIP's showing in Eastleigh shows how inconsistent and reactive our political leaders are. With a stagnant economy, social decay, a looming energy crisis, and reruns of the Sweeney on Freeview, are we mad, in a coma, or back in time? Do we still have the ability to think our way out of this, to set out a clear vision of what we are and what we want to be, to articulate any kind of political philosophy that doesn't have a price tag? Or is our legacy a self-indulgent bit of social disorder and a silly record?

So here's my candidate for a tribute song:

Travelling overseas I was accosted by a studentWho asked me where I came from, she was prettyChildren don't put smack in your veinsLennon cut his teeth hereAnd the party-pooping left wingWouldn't play the Tories game
We're always in the market for an off-beat love affairWith a foreign delegation condescending for a shareOf a pressure cooker spouting steamThat threatens to unloadWith a power so formidableThe Russian bear is in the woods somewhere

Television comedians united in approvalThe drama that confronts you with real people in real timesI'm only in a band because I failed my own auditionYou have to see somebody suffer other than yourself
Right now we're in a jamWe'll call you back when we get straight'Cos Townsend's coming 'roundHe understands, he won't be lateThere's lots of food for thoughtBut not a great deal on our plateThe southerners don't like usWho can blame 'em seems we're always in the spotlight

We're always in the market for an off-beat love affairHeseltine came up now trees are sprouting everywhereMcDonalds finally found us and we're folklore in TurinWe used to pull the ships inNow we're goin' downLook at the state we're in

it has the added advantage of being musically excellent, rather than the kind of thing that makes you want to eat kitchen tiles. Sorry Judy, but there it is. 

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