Me, Myself And I

Some friends of mine insist that Margaret Thatcher remains the most hated prime minister in British history.
She gets the blame for pretty much everything, sometimes fairly, sometimes not.
I was 10 years old when she won a landslide victory after dismal failures by James Callaghan’s Labour government. People often forget that. She talked about law and order, putting British industry back on its feet, tackling the abuse of power by the unions and restoring faith in the London Stock Exchange, a reflection, I learned a couple of years later in economics, of investment in our island’s future.
Her vision for many aspects of life and the economy, even now, look good on paper.
Privatise the nationalised industries that were strangled behemoths, a shadow of their former selves, held back by greedy unions, with too many workers doing too little. The idea was to bring in outside investment – including making shareholders of the British John and Jane Does for the first time – to lessen the burden to the taxpayer, and bring in individuals with outsider knowledge and a history of success to run them.
And while the ability for council tenants to buy their homes had been there for some while, Thatcher made it a policy that caught the imagination of hundreds of thousands.
We, as a country, bought into it. Not everyone, but most were hooked.
The major criticism I heard during those times, was that Thatcher was building a Selfish Generation. And boy, did everyone buy into that! Even the Labour Party, at the time her fiercest critics, changed for the worse.
It was the big problem. The John and Jane Does sold their shares to the big boys as soon as they could. The newly-privatised industries were sold off to cronies to axe many more jobs than were necessary to pay the dividends on the shares now owned by the big boys. The talk of cheaper gas, water, electricity, bus and rail tickets came to naught, as well as the promise of more competition. We got cartels to screw us more than we’d been in a century of more.
The common human failing of greed.
People got rich, for a time. Until the rich picked them off, one by one, and became richer themselves. Former council house tenants bought their homes and sold up, leaving rows and rows of former social housing in the hands of the new Rachmannites.
The ethos of Buy British trumpeted by Thatcher resounded until pretty much every big firm had been bought up by foreign companies or foreign hedge funds and investment banks.
And Labour did sod all to change it when they came into power. Instead, they saddled schools and the National Health Service with the ill-advised Private Finance Initiatives, a part-privatisation plan that Thatcher would have been proud of and possibly angry she didn’t come up with it.
Tony Blair and his cronies looked the other way when the banks, more powerful than in the days when Thatcher swept to power, found new and corrupt ways to screw John and Jane Doe over. They took us to war in the Middle East on a lie they helped fabricate and four others, too – getting Blair into the history books as the most warmongering of British prime ministers ever. Then, for incredible sums of cash, the New Conservative, sorry, Labour leader, was then made an international peace envoy for the Middle East. Incredible, eh? You couldn’t make it up.
And all the while, people became more selfish, more greedy. The Me, Myself And I generation, who often don’t know, or speak to, their neighbours in the wider sense. The people who have to have the latest gadgets, the big screen TVs, the cars, who don’t stop at red lights anymore because they’re in a rush, who don’t shop in the fast disappearing small shops in their neighbourhoods because they want the cheapest bargains in the supermarkets. Who care not one jot whether the latest acquisition is made in China by an exploited worker because it’s the price to their pocket that matters. The people who turn blind eyes to corruption, to human rights abuse, animal abuse and all the ills of the world because they’re more interested in X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, the raft of house-buying shows and cooking shows and reality crap on TV.
The children of Thatcher’s generation.
And it’s about to get worse.
For a long while politicians haven’t been about the people they represent. They’re the worst examples of Thatcherite greed. In it for themselves, sacrificing a belief for power or money, or both.
Remember that come polling day. In days gone by, people would have been out on the streets demanding change. It’s how we got rid of the Rotten Boroughs. It’s how we got rid of ignorant, arrogant tyrants on the throne.
But while we sit, worried about ourselves and nothing else, we get what we deserve.

Father To Son

My heart is ready to break yet again, dear son.
I’ve two days left to spend with you on this trip, which, like all the others is all too short.
I love spending time with you, watching you grow and learn and smile and run round recklessly, as if every day was meant to be enjoyed to the max.
Most of us lose that as adults.
When I say goodbye, see that smile, feel that hug and enjoy the particular smell of you on Sunday morning, I’ll be helpless, weak, hurting and so sad. The plane will take me 2,500 miles away from you.
I won’t be there to hug you, help you, hold you when you’re upset. But you’ll have Mummy for that. She does a wonderful job, even though sometimes you don’t appreciate her.
We’ll be able to chat on Skype, if you can drag yourself away from the fun of TV, DVDs and Lego, but I know it’s not the same. Even so, I love talking to you and hearing how you’re doing, what you’ve done and what you plan to do. I love hearing how well you’re doing at school and the new foods you’re trying out. I love seeing your art, your new toys and most of all, that smile, which radiates through the computer to make me feel so happy.
Most of all, I like to hear how well you’re behaving and how good you’re being for your Mummy, who deserves the best from you as she gives you her best, better than all the rest.
In less than three months, I’ll be flying out to bring you back to England for what I hope will be a really cool holiday for you, that will see you and I both enjoy every day we’re together to the max. Scant time together, but every second is precious to me.
You are precious to me.