So we bid farewell to the year 2013, the year in which we have also bade farewell to two of the most significant politicians of the latter part of the 20th century – Mandela and Thatcher.
But what different legacies they bequeathed their respective countries. Thanks to Mandela, South Africa has undisputedly become more united today than at any time in its history. Yes, there is still poverty, but progress is being steadily taken to address this. In stark contrast, Thatcher’s legacy will forever be remembered for her promotion of ‘get-rich quick’ City slickers, the highly divisive Poll Tax, the obscene tax giveaways to the richest in society at the blatant expense of the poorest and for the privatisation of our publicly owned utilities which are now almost exclusively controlled by faceless corporations based overseas.
On the world stage, the internationalist Mandela rightly sought peace and reconciliation as the first option whereas Thatcher bizarrely viewed herself as some sort of gunboat-handbag diplomat who, for all her so-called ‘batting for Britain’ anecdotes, persistently kowtowed to the war-mongering Ronald Reagan – a man who effectively became the ultimate controller of Britain’s foreign policy.
The fact that Thatcher branded Mandela a terrorist whilst sucking up to the murderous regime of her dear friend General Pinochet in Chile just about sums it up. And lest we forget, in the early 1980’s members of the ardently Thatcherite organisation, the Federation of Conservative Students, proudly wore “Hang Mandela” T-shirts in a disgraceful and open display of their true feelings – just the sort of age-group who, thirty years on, now have seats in the House of Commons.
by Adrian Hardy