When I think of Margaret Thatcher, I think of coal miners. I think of the movie Billy Elliot, and the scene where the son sees his dad in the bus driving through the picket line. I think of the 1981 song Ghost Town, by the Specials, which talks about riots and urban decay and “too much fighting on the dance floor” and “all the clubs have been closed down”. I think of the IRA, and hunger striker Bobby Sands. I think of the Falkland Islands, and the apparent Dave-and-Goliath conflict that erupted for a few weeks in 1982.
The Thatcher era was, to put it mildly, one of unrest and upheaval. The quintessential conservative, Maggie took no shit from anyone, be they miners in the Midlands or residents in some far-flung colony in South America.
While I never agreed with her politics, I admired her guts. And from a personal standpoint, she is part of my youth. I remember news clips of her with Reagan; I remember scenes of rioting; I remember IRA bombings.
The anniversary of her death today makes me think of all these things. Here are a few memory-joggers.
“No, no, no.” This is Thatcher at her best, asking rhetorical questions — and answering them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tetk_ayO1x4 (1 min, 11 sec)
The poll tax riot The poll tax was a flat, per-person ‘head tax’ first introduced in Scotland in 1989. On Sat Mar 31, 1990, shortly before it was to come into force in England and Wales, people from across Britain came to London’s Trafalgar Square to protest. Along the way, things turned ugly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5o98_hia8tA (9 min, 28 sec)
Thatcher’s resignation This vintage BBC coverage looks back at her reign, offering interview clips and live coverage the day of her resignation. In the presenter’s words, “the Thatcher era is over”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im9c1JHtrI0 (13 min, 45 sec)
Billy Elliot — the strike / bus scene If you haven’t seen Billy Elliot, you MUST!!! Superb acting, excellent soundtrack and one of THE BEST movie endings ever. This particular scene is of the strike at the local mine, where father and son both work. Both start the strike committed — then one caves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWtTtXBPW9s (2 min, 39 sec)
“Sink it!” This scene from the movie The Iron Lady has Meryl Streep as Thatcher in the war room being advised on naval strategy in the Falklands — one ship in particular. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcBkvr_PGaY (1 min, 40 sec)