I really don’t think we should worry too much that the jaunty little tune from the Wizard of Oz has been hijacked by a ignorant bunch of oiks, who mostly appear to be either anarchists by profession or else teachers of our nation’s children.
She was well used to dealing with such people during her lifetime, and no doubt suffered worse being lampooned in Spitting Image.
The sadness is that the family and friends of Baroness Thatcher may be affected by such crass behaviour and lack of basic human decency at a time of mourning. It is an unfortunate sign of the times.
For Margaret Thatcher’s spells finally and magically brought Britain back to life after the long, seemingly never-ending doldrums of World War 2. She replaced them with the verve and vigour of a conviction politician.
And she understood, from the beginning, that she would make enemies as well as friends during her crusade.
According to the Sunday Times, when Tim Bell of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi first met her prior to her election in 1979, she told him not to use any clever marketing trickery to get her elected. Because if the people didn’t want her, she said, they simply would not fall for it.
She also anticipated and warned him to expect a lot of abuse while working for her and hoped he could cope with it. “I hope you’re a big boy,” she reportedly said.
Such a different attitude from that of the spin-doctors and bury-bad-news manipulators of the Blair era who tried to create a totally artificial Cool Britannia overnight.
I’ve met Margaret Thatcher’s former chief press secretary, Bernard Ingham (he told me he’d read Rogue Element). You could not hope for a more stolid and honest communicator, from the times when Public Relations was an art and respected profession, and not just a dirty word for lying.
Yet urban myths about Margaret Thatcher persist. That somehow she destroyed British industry. Such damage was done by history and changing times, and the all-powerful trade unions which in those days repeatedly held the country to ransom.
She didn’t make British coal uneconomical. History and market forces did. She didn’t decide to sink the Belgrano. Her Chiefs of Staff did. She didn’t destroy British industry, refused to subsidise obsolete manufacturing with taxpayers’ money. Following union reforms, motor manufacturing is now booming along with the defence, electronics, food and IT industries. Others, like clothes manufacturing, that have been lost to cheaper labour abroad, are starting to come home.
Margaret Thatcher put low taxes, free-market forces and personal liberty first. She allowed low and average paid workers the opportunity to buy their own council homes to get onto the housing ladder, and to invest in shares of nationalised utilities.
Her firm belief in democracy helped defeat the Argentinian invaders of the Falklands, galvanised one America president into freeing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s occupation, and worked with another to help bring an end to the tyranny of the old Soviet Union.
Did she make mistakes?
Of course she did. Eggs and omelettes. Winston Churchill, with whom Margaret Thatcher is so often compared, made his fair share.
Interestingly, one was her decision to ban Irish Republican terrorists from speaking on the media, allowing Shakespearean thespians to deliver their weasely words with stirring and theatrical gravitas.
The BBC nearly made a similar mistake over the playing of the witch’s song.
However biggest and final error was trying to force through Poll Tax. PT or “Community Tax” was reckoned to be the fairest of all – especially compared to Rates – because everyone had to make a contribution towards public services that everyone enjoyed.
But was unpopular with all those who had never had to pay before. One suspects they may be the same people who are now rejoicing that the wicked witch is dead.
Some witch. Some book of spells. Some story.
Couldn’t we do with some of her magic now?