The death and funeral arrangements for Margaret Thatcher have vividly revealed the two great class divisions within the dis-United Kingdom of Britain. There are those for Thatcher and those against. And the bizarre spectacle of austerity Britain (for workers and the poor), witnessing a no-expenses spared funeral for an ex-champion of the ruling elite, clearly demonstrates the class-based, divided nature of English society. In economic and financial terms the ascendancy of Thatcher represented the interests of the neo-liberal tendencies in capitalism. However, in political terms, her elevation to leadership represented a departure from the previous post-war one-nation Toryism. In other words, Thatcherism represented a return to the previous ‘two-nation’ – rich and poor – economics and politics of the ruling elite. The velvet glove which adorned the iron fist of the capitalist class under the Tory leadership of Edward Heath was openly discarded and wielded by the appropriately named ‘iron lady’.
Despite the initial Conservative and Liberal Democratic rhetoric of ‘we are all in this together’ the austerity measures, tax breaks for the rich and Thatcher’s £10 million plus funeral reveal that we are very definitely not. With few exceptions it is the rich and elite who benefited from the policies she initiated and it is they who have been invited to the funeral and who will affect to grieve her passing. Yet again it cannot have escaped the attention of most people, that whenever, the ruling elite need something done, they are always able to find the money. This is so whether they need to keep control of the oil in Iraq by massive expenditure in arms, get rid of someone such as Gaddafi, blow vast sums on Olympic Games or give ‘one of theirs‘ an extravagant funeral. The sheer hypocrisy of those in the political, financial and economic elite, in the UK as elsewhere, knows no bounds. It is they who dodge taxes, abuse expenses, have numerous consultancies and homes, run up national debts and then introduce cuts and bedroom taxes for the poor.
They are also the ones who will line up in St Paul’s or the Mansion House and listen to the funeral eulogies and prayers. In these restricted venues the bifurcation and hypocrisy of the capitalist mode of production will again be amply demonstrated. Here the collusion between the religious and political establishment will be once again boldly and colourfully underlined. It is said that a reading from Psalm 139 was given. I bet the clergy did not include verse 22 of Psalm 139 which aptly embodies how Mrs Thatcher and her assembled mourning acolytes viewed the miners and all anti-capitalist activists “I hate them with the utmost hatred’. I also guess that those ‘big-bang’ financiers who attended this so-called Christian service will not have been embarrassed by an apt quotation from Psalm 115 “their idols are silver and gold’ or the politicians discomforted by one from Psalm 12 reading ’”..they talk with smooth lip and double heart.”
Meanwhile, in bifurcated Britain the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and those in the now precarious middle are also getting steadily poorer. The Scots are considering making their part of bifurcated Britain ‘official’ by considering independence. The nationalist hyperbole of putting the ‘great’ back into Great Britain was never more than a pompous imperialist boast and hardly any sensible person in Britain or Europe, considers the conquests and atrocities of that period were in any way ‘great’ nor those of the present day. Now the same anachronistic fate falls to the militarily embroidered tapestry of the term United Kingdom. Despite the ideological rhetoric of the ruling class, it has never been united, because under the capitalist system it is primarily divided by class. And as the current crisis develops those class divisions will be further emphasised and fought out once again. The exalted nature of the semi-state funeral of Margaret Thatcher amid welfare cuts, rising unemployment and increased poverty, calls attention to the very obvious fact – the existing and continuing bifurcation of Britain. [See also ‘Death at the Ritz‘. at http://www.critical-mass.net]
Roy Ratcliffe (April 2013.)