Ding Dong Battle


In 1974, when Edward Heath had lost office, and there began to be talk of Thatcher taking over as Conservative Leader, my [very] English Aunt, Midlands family background of miners and factory workers, and memories fresh of Thatcher’s dirty work as Education minister, robbing poor school children of their milk, said to me “If that woman ever becomes Prime Minister I’m emigrating to Australia”.

Well, sadly Maggie did, but Ruby didn’t. People don’t of course, even though it is such a common reaction to approaching political storms (“if John Howard wins”, “if George Bush wins”). People like my Aunt don’t anyway, too emotionally rooted in family and community. Too costly to physically and economically uproot. Too loyal, I guess, right down to their bootstraps, to the country of their birth. So they stay, as the political storm clouds gather once more, and batten down what hatches they can.

Bit different when the Gucci Shoe is on the other foot. The mere whiff of what laughingly passes for a Blairite/Keatingesque/Obamacrat/Hollandaise “only-a-few-miles-right-of-centre-social-democrat-party” in the offing, and the Rich are, well, offing. Depardieuing to some less taxing place. And not just individuals – whole companies, corporations, faced with, say, a mining tax increase, threaten to dig up all the Australian iron ore, bury it again in, say, Myanmar, and dig it up again to sell to China, from a new head office in a tax haven.

But the poor stay behind, and watch as swine like Thatcher graduate from stealing milk from children to stealing mines from miners, factories from communities, houses and services from families, and set free the dogs of banks and financiers to ravage the economy. Oh, they try to fight back, some ding dong battles, but the power of the state, riot police on flying monkeys, is never so starkly on display as when it is being used by the rich, for the rich, against the poor.

Nor is the power of the media more starkly displayed than in these circumstances, when Rupert’s Unlimited News Bugles consolidate the gains made by the corporate and public order shock troops (while using some themselves to smash print unions), and convince the suddenly out of work and homeless that they will never have it so good again unless they vote the “bosses’ party” in again, or a “worker’s party” that has absolutely indistinguishable policies, because “socialism” is so nineteenth century. Like laissez-faire capitalism, I guess.

And then, when the Great Leader has trashed her (or his) own country, spread the disease to others, cosied up to even more obnoxious foreign dictators who stop at nothing until the jackboots are stamping on faces, and helicopters are flying out to sea, and, retired or been, finally too extreme even for his (or her) colleagues, shunted out, the Trumpets of the Free Press move in to start rewriting history even as the removalist vans are passing each other at the entrance to 10 Downing St.

And, when the Angel Gabriel’s trumpets sound to summon the old, cold, warrior to Valhalla, the Press write effusive, white-washed eulogies as if preparing for sainthood application, and any suggestion that history, real history, should be referred to, is shouted down with that old saviour of horrid right wing leaders (though not, apparently, those of the left), “Don’t speak ill of the dead”. And even the public broadcaster, in the face of widespread demand from people trying to fight back, refuse to play a very appropriate song from Wizard of Oz. Well, bugger that for a game of soldiers, a game of battleships – there’s a Class War going on all over the word, and it’s the Class of ’79 that’s winning it. Time to join the battle.

I wish my Aunt had come to Australia, unexpectedly turned up on my doorstep, rung my bell, ” Ding Dong”. Escaped from the stealer of milk, winner of battles, Boadicea risen again to fly in a Harrier Jump Jet. Mind you, with the advent of John Howard I think Ruby would have been packing her bags again in 1996 for Blighty, sure, and rightly, that Oz was also in for rule by a potential milk stealer and armchair warrior.

And with Tony Abbott now looming in Australia like a Wicked Wizard from the East, I think it might be time to pack my bags and join her. Well, except for David Cameron already at the other end stealing hospital services from old ladies, and old gentlemen, and taxing their homes, completing Thatcher’s work.

Where has that Yellow Brick Road gone?

13 comments on “Ding Dong Battle

  1. eremophila says:

    Reblogged this on Eremophila's Musings and commented:
    This sums up the situation brilliantly.


  2. Joy Cooper says:

    Great post David which has said it all so succinctly . Thatcher did make it ok for other “leaders” to grind their own down into the dirt all the while allowing the wealthy to get even wealthier. Disgraceful..

    Do recall Thatcher being described as a psychopath & she certainly did display many of the characteristics for this as do/did many of the other far right wing leaders. Being a psychopath almost seems to almost be mandatory for the conservative leaders. How else could they willingly, unfeelingly & needlessly, inflict so much damage & pain on their own people if they aren’t?


  3. Iain Davidson says:

    You must catch Glenda jackson MP paying appropriate tribute in the House of Commons. Makes Carr’s truthtelling seem like a kiddies’ bedtime story.


  4. Alan Phillips says:

    The yellow brick road is still there, but in Australia the yellowness is created by the excrement of the mining magnates (and their pals), and on which the poor still have to walk.


  5. Alan Phillips says:

    Also, Thatcherism is still rampant in the world, where governments and even local councils dump their responsibilities and let private enterprise run their bailiwicks for them. After all, they don’t have to take the blame for rising costs or when things go wrong. And in Australia the political left is as much to blame as the right. Thatcherism is one of the greatest frauds played on the world since WW2.


  6. Joy Cooper says:

    What is frightening is that the word Thatcherism has entered our lexicon as a synonym for all the worst excesses of hard right conservative politics.


  7. Don says:

    It seems that there will always be two very opposed and unchanging views (rusted-on is the current jargon) of how to manage a large body of people. The trouble with such analysis as David’s one here is that the tone matches the unswerving mindset and fanaticism that are laid out as hallmarks of the “other side”. The “left”, when in control, don’t always get it right for the less fortunate, however their plight has come about. Continued power corrupts and despite efforts from those that have genuine compassion, the “left” have periods of incompetence, greed, corruption, mismanagement etc., and in some countries, their own version of dictatorships. Luckily our system allows for change and to see how it goes. We are stuck with democracy as giving us “the worst form of government” some times (Churchill) but as the rest of his quote implies I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I didn’t like Churchill.


  8. roshart1 says:

    Here is an email from @JillFavero who is languishing (ahem!) in Argentina at the moment. She’s asked me to cut-‘n-paste her comment on this post as she’s forgotten her password!! PS Couldn’t agree more on your reflections here. The glorifying of Thatcher in death is making me feel a bit ill.
    Here’s the message from Jill.

    “Excellent piece, David. Media barons deserve a special place in hell (metaphorically speaking) for herding sheep voters into the race which makes them vote for the politicians who will ruthlessly change their lives for the worse.
    BTW, am now in Argentina and wish I had enough Spanish to understand what locals are saying about the death of the person who warred with them and gave orders for sinking of the Belgrano.” (Jill Favero.)


    • David Horton says:

      Thanks Jill, and Ros, Belgrano little short of war crime as I recollect.

      Jill, I see you are gallivanting again. Password? I don’t know how to check it. Is there a reset function, or are you signed in using a different application you’ve forgotten the password for?


      • Don says:

        Oh dear! “Who warred with them”, “Belgrano little short of war crime” – are we talking about confronting a military junta that invaded South Georgia and the Falklands and disposed of protesters from their own people somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean? Or did I miss something? Now who is rewriting history, but Spanish former colonies are so romantic.


        • David Horton says:

          Well, no, I’m talking about bombing and sinking a ship full of naval cadets etc, fleeing the scene, and of no threat, but deliberately sunk to, what, show how ruthless a woman could be?


  9. Implicit in your analysis is the notion that Thatcher screwed the poor in order to benefit the rich. While they accept that she hurt a lot of innocent people along the way, the Tories have always put their hands on their hearts (if they can find them) and claimed that it was necessary medicine for the economic future of Great Britain. What is rarely admitted is the fact that Thatcher was only able to crush the miners and close down the coal industry because of the North Sea oil bonanza. Without it she would simply have turned out the lights.
    But instead of using that windfall to build infra-structure and a ‘future fund’ like Norway, Britain tore a great hole in her own heart, squandering the proceeds on a ridiculous war and excessive consumption. Thatcher created a deregulated financial sector that attracted billions of pounds of foreign investment, driving up the pound by 40%. In this process she managed to make the already struggling (Tory owned) manufacturing industry history. Unemployment rose to 3 million – all of whom became wards of the State at a time when Thatcher was supposed to be dismantling the welfare state. Inequality rose to social contract destroying levels, crime rates ballooned, police numbers exploded, prisons overflowed. To this day, many regions of the country remain permanently depressed and impoverished.
    When the mess that is Britain today is compared with Norway and it’s oil sponsored future fund, or Germany which has survived the cost of re-building East Germany with its manufacturing sector more or less intact, perhaps the Thatcherophiles might do well to re-evaluate her legacy – ‘Ding Dong’, indeed.


  10. Joy Cooper says:

    Excellent comment, johnsaintsmith & one you aren’t likely to hear about as Thatcher is sanctified by the Tories world wide.

    Here’s hoping history will not do the same.


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