This week, the death of Margaret Thatcher prompted a predictable cacophony of voices from different sides of the political spectrum, keen to make their voices heard over what she meant for the UK and for the world. While there was inevitable praise from her acolytes, there was also condemnation from her critics, the latter of whom I identify most strongly with.
In thinking of the recently departed, an issue that must be faced is that of separating the person from what they did. Can such a thing be done? How can you give dignity to the dead and respect to their family whilst simultaneously opposing their ideology? It’s not easy to get correct and indeed, in my opinion, some have overstepped the mark of decency. There were a small number of parties to celebrate her passing which have been in poor taste. They have demonised the person and missed the real target of her policies and actions.
It seems inevitable that some will protest by attempting to disrupt the funeral. I will not. My hope and plea is that those of us who stand on the left of the UK political spectrum will afford the family dignity and respect as they mourn the passing of an individual who was known and loved. We can take our revulsion for her policies and keep it silent for a while. It does no one any credit to mock the dead, an act which is most hurtful to the family concerned. What if it was your mother, your grandmother?
I will not sing, I will not dance. As a silent protest, I will wear red, the colour which symbolises those who opposed her in her political life. Specifically, given I will be at work, I will wear a red tie and red socks. But the true protest will be doing everything we can to unwind her legacy. She valued individualism, encouraging greed; we should put others ahead of ourselves and protect the most vulnerable. She sought to undermine society by denying its existence; we should seek to affirm it and make society better.