Girl power? Why I won’t mourn Thatcher

File photo dated 12/12/2005 of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 8, 2013. Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said. See PA story DEATH Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
File photo dated 12/12/2005 of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 8, 2013. Baroness Thatcher died this morning following a stroke, her spokesman Lord Bell said. See PA story DEATH Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

When news of Margaret Thatcher’s death broke on Monday there was a momentary fear the internet - and Twitter in particular - would implode upon hearing the news.

Thousands of people took to their keyboard to voice their opinion on a woman who made an indelible mark on our society - the comments ranged from the sublime to the horrific and everything in between.

There were calls for ‘Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead’ to rise to the top of the charts and anger at the notion a woman who crippled the very notion of society would get a send off with military honours - her remains wheeled through the streets of London as if she were a hero.

Politically, there is much I could say about Thatcher. Her policies were not ones I would find easy to reconcile with my conscience. I was not raised in an political household - but in latter years have become only too aware of her policies regarding Ireland, the North and the Hunger Strikers.

I have become aware of how her policies brought entire communities to their knees in the North of England, how under her leadership the police were allowed to cover up the true horror of what happened at Hillsborough.

And, as a child of the 80s, can she really be forgiven for taking away our milk? The epithet Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher will forever play in my head when I hear her name mentioned.

These are but a few of things which have convinced me that Thatcher was not, at any time, a member of the great and good - and that her greatest legacy is one of hurt and damage to our society as a whole. (Except perhaps for the rich people - they came out of it quite well, didn’t they?)

There are those, I suppose, who would re-write history. Who would take this time as an opportunity to slip on those rose tinted glasses and - in some quest to be respectful of the dead - focus on the positives rather than the glaring negatives.

There are those will say she was a pioneer for women - the first female Prime Minister in the UK - a front runner for all successful women who came her.

Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell (who admittedly will never win anyway awards for her political insight) tweeted upon news of her death that Thatcher the original example of “Girl Power”.

“Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power, Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter who taught me anything is possible...x,” she Tweeted.

Let’s make no mistake about it - Margaret Thatcher may have been the first female prime minister of Britain but she was no friend of women, of families or exponent of girl power.

With the exception of one female, who happened to be her friend, she did not not promote anyone of her gender in a cabinet role during her time as Prime Minister. No one is saying it should have become a case of “jobs for the girls” but you would think that once she had punched her way through that glass ceiling she would have reached down to help others up? Instead she called in the (male) glazers and had it repaired.

Although a career woman - a mother with two young children at home to care for - she cared not for the idea of mother’s forging careers of their own.

Writing in the Guardian this week journalist Jenni Murray, who interviewed Thatcher several times during her years in power, recalled: “She had, she confided, been in Russia recently and had been desperately saddened to see the poor little children being dropped off at nurseries by their mothers who were forced to go out to work. She did not want to see Britain turned into a creche society.

“Her patronising advice for those women who wished to keep their hand in while their children were young – and she was all in favour of a little part-time work to keep the brain engaged – was to find an aunt or a granny who might have the children for a few short hours a week. No acknowledgment of a woman’s need or ambition to earn her own living at all, even though she had always had a job, whether working for J Lyons and Co, reading for the Bar or becoming an MP.”

She did not like to pain herself as a role model - she saw nothing in her position as the most powerful woman in the Western World that made her feel like she had to embrace some sort of sisterhood.

She was, singularly, cold, calculated and at times one would say divisive. As Murray pointed out in her column: “She was the Mummy, the Nanny, the Governess, the Wife, the Matron, the Flirt or Boudicca, depending on which role was required for any given moment, but woe betide the hapless hack who asked what it was like to be a woman PM. “I have no idea, dear,” she would sneer, “as I have never experienced the alternative.”

There is nothing to say, of course, she should have made a special case for women merely because of her own gender. But let not the world remember her as a pioneer for feminism, a friend to women or a role model for our daughters. She was none of these things.