Tony Blair believes that the street “celebrations” following Margaret Thatcher’s death are disrespectful and in poor taste. By extension, this likely includes many of the offensive and vile comments made about the late former UK prime minister on social media.
Tony Blair, a member of the Labor Party, served as prime minister from 1997 through 2007. Baroness Margaret Thatcher, a conservative, was prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and is the only women to have held that office in the UK.
Street parties staged by left-wing Thatcher haters have sprung up in London as well as Bristol, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, and Glasgow following Thatcher’s passing from a stroke at age 87 on Monday. Blair, who fundamentally disagreed with Thatcher on many political issues, said in a BBC interview that these demonstrations are way out of line.
Current Labor Party leader Ed Milibrand expressed similar sentiments according to a party spokesperson: “Ed Milibrand categorically condemns any celebration of Lady Thatcher’s death. As he made clear yesterday she was a huge figure in British politics and on the world stage. While the Labor Party disagrees with much of what she did, we can respect her personal achievements.”
In a related development, the London Telegraph had to disable comments on all Thatcher-related articles because of the offensive nature of many of the postings.
Blair noted that Thacher was a controversial, polarizing figure who stirred up hatred or dislike in some portion of the British electorate. That should not detract from the respect that she is owed for her achievements, he suggested:
“If you take a more object and broad historical perspective, you’ve got to say She was a huge political figure and changed not just her country but the way people look at the world … we as a country can should look on her with a sense of national pride even though there are areas … where I would disagree strongly … if you going to be fair about it, this was a highly significant leader.”
Addressing the leftist street celebrations in particular, Blair added: “I think that’s pretty poor taste really. You’ve got to, even if you disagree with someone very strongly by the way, you can still, particularly at the moment of their passing, show some respect.”
The interviewer then asked Blair if the same kind of demonstrations might occur upon his passing, given that his decision to deploy British troops in the Iraq war was very unpopular: “It’s part of modern political life; If you are a leader for three terms as she was and I was — you take decisions … that are very difficult, you take them in circumstances where you are the leader at the time and have to take them. I’m afraid that when you decide you divide.”
Blair added that he thought Mrs. Thatcher would be “pretty philosophical” about the criticisms following her death and that he hopes he will be too.
The New York Post has a for more positive take on the legacy of the “Iron Lady”:
“Thatcher, who was schooled in the free-market theory of F.A Hayek, replaced [Labor PM] Callaghan, crushed the striking unions, beat inflation (then in double digits) by tightening the money supply and unleashed the wealth creation of the marketplace by privatizing a huge chunk of the state-run economy … Thatcher launched a boom in high-tech industries such as finance, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. Government spending plunged from 48 percent of the economy to 39 percent when she left office.”
The Post added: “Far from being ‘heartless,’ as she was frequently accused of being, she enabled middle-class strivers to prosper. Real per-capita income rose by a third during her tenure, then continued to shoot upward as market efficiencies multiplied.”
A separate Post article opined that “Standing up to rapacious trade unions, privatizing nationalized industries and cutting back on government spending reflected her determination to stop Great Britain’s slide into socialism.She was equally firm in ending appeasement of the Soviet Union. With President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, she helped win the Cold War and defeat communism.”
We have closed comments on every #Thatcher story today – even our address to email tributes is filled with abuse
— Tony Gallagher
(@gallaghereditor) April 8, 2013
When it comes to politics, are we beyond the point of disagreeing without being disagreeable?