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Sunday, 14 April 2013

'This puts a question mark over / Thatcher,' I told you.

Margaret Thatcher's death last Monday has provoked waves of nostalgia and hatred in Britain.

Without Thatcher, I'm not sure I would have gotten involved in politics, as I did, when I was fifteen years old. Much terrible stuff would have been avoided. But also I'd never have gotten to be part of the anti-poll tax movement, which was certainly a great thing to be involved in; no regrets about that.

These days I am self employed, and can't really deny that I'm now part of the world which her policies brought into being.

Below is a poem I wrote a few years back. Thatcher was always going to lose the next election. Except she never did.

           Comrades
               “As an ex-member of the Militant Tendency I wanted to bring down the State
               that most people supported. I'm glad the likes of me … were prevented from
               doing so … Thank you Special Branch.” (Stephen Brent, Chichester, on the BBC website.)

              1981. Capitalism was a Dimplex heater
              with a broken switch. We'd
              rush across the greasiest Formica,
              the nastiest carpet to agree with each other
              and cheer the news: redundancies rocket,
              stock markets on the floor.

              'Another Tory government
              is out of the question,' you told me.
              It was February, 1982. The daffodils
              couldn't have cared less.

              'This puts a question mark over
              Thatcher,' I told you.
              It was November, 1989. Hailstones
              on Stoke Newington High Street.

             Today, we meet with a history
             of fried bread and picket lines
             behind us. We believed in each other.
             Now, it's a hundred years

             since those afternoons
             full of sunlight and clenched fists
             when – in miners' strikes and poll-tax riots –
             we were like boys playing
             in hoped for snow.
This poem is also published here in the American current affairs magazine Dissent
http://207.97.238.133/keywords/index.php?subSearchText=Kevin+Higgins
and is included in my 2010 collection Frightening New Furniture,
which is available from Salmon Poetry.
http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=186&a=108