Parliamentary sketch – after the handbagging

Posted on: 11th April 2013

It’s not that I feel obliged to add to the wall-to-wall coverage following the death of Margaret Thatcher that I add my own homily below.

I was not in Parliament to be honoured – as many were – with one of her notorious “handbaggings” nor have I any personal recollections of meeting her.

However, although Margaret Thatcher dominated politics for more than a decade, she also defined political debate for more than a generation.  There are few other Prime Ministers to whom an “ite” or an “ism” can be attached and which would clearly mean something.  “Cameronism” would be difficult to define and I’m not sure who “Cleggites” are.

Thatcher was very much a “marmite” politician.  She was adored and loathed with a level of passion rarely experienced in modern day politics.

For my own part, and throughout much of the 80s, I was not a member of any national political party but did engage in single issue campaigning: on the environment, Cornwall, affordable housing, international development and many other issues.

I suppose I could “thank” (or blame?) Margaret Thatcher for getting me into politics.  I suspect that without her I would have continued with occasional single issue campaigning and therefore continued to live a normal, stable, sane existence away from the bear pit and aprobium of politics.

Selling council houses to their occupants was, in itself, not a bad thing.  The problem was not building at least as many houses to replace the ones that were sold.  Ending up with a local government finance scheme which spent millions subsidising the wealthy to have their second homes when there were thousands of local families who didn’t have their first was, to my mind, offensive.  I went into politics to change that.

Some of the privatisations were, on reflection, justifiable, but the inept way in which this was handled with water has left local rate payers with a legacy of crippling high bills.  I also felt that unemployment was used as a political weapon to quell the masses.

The creation of a more greedy dog-eat-dog culture which denied the existence of society was one that I felt needed to be challenged.

In looking for people to do the challenging, my friends said to me:  “Why don’t you do it, since you’ve got such a big mouth”!  This backhanded compliment (if that is what it was?) spurred me into action so you can either thank or blame (your choice) Margaret Thatcher for your local MP.

As a postscript: I personally believe that there are better ways of spending my time (as well as better ways of spending the country’s money) than recalling Parliament this week to honour the memory of this once unquestionably significant former Prime Minister.

Andrew George

MP for the West Cornwall &

Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives

9th April 2013