Thatcher passing draws mixed response

WITH news that Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the one-time prime minister of Great Britain has passed, tributes have been flooding in from many sources. However, there are many from the coal sector in the UK with a different view.

Noel Dyson

It is fair to say that Thatcher and her no nonsense approach to government was a very divisive figure.

There are many people in Britain who define themselves by whether they were Thatcherites or Thatcher haters. Clearly, given she won three elections in a row, it appears there were more in the former camp.

Her passing has led to an outpouring of emotion from those who believe she did a lot to revitalise a once great nation and those who loathed her. Arguably the most bizarre offshoot of this was reports from the twittersphere that her death had led to a belief that US singer Cher had died instead. Probably something to do with # and Cher, but who knows.

That Thatcher had a profound effect on the UK is unquestionable. Her deregulation of the financial industry there led to London becoming a key financial hub.

There are many who say that Thatcher took a nation that had been on its knees since World War II and allowed it to stand again.

She privatised government-owned entities, many of which have gone on to become leading global companies in their area. She was considered by many to be a key figure in the victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Thatcher also dismantled industries in Britain that had been stalwarts of communities, particularly in the nation’s north.

Gone was a lot of the once proud steel industry and eventually gone were a lot of the coal mines too.

With National Union of Miners leader Arthur Scargill in the van, the coal miners went on strike, an action that would last for a year. This strike led to, in some cases, pitched battles between strikers and the police, and renewed sales of the Strawbs Part of the Union.

At the end of it all Britain’s trade union movement was in tatters and coal mining was on the way out.

Many of the old coal miners from that era interviewed today suggest that they would be celebrating Thatcher’s passing.

They point to the devastation her policies on coal did to the industry and the communities around those mines.

This helped spark the generational unemployment that still blights part of the country.

It also left the UK’s coal industry in a parlous state indeed.

This was highlighted with the announcement the Daw mine would close due to a ferocious fire sweeping through it.

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