Rightward-bound regardless

Regarding Paul Gaysford’s April 14 eulogy of Margaret Thatcher, ‘Iron Lady’ is worth emulating“: I don’t believe history is made only by leaders. With or without Thatcher, Britain would have swung right. It was already happening with James Callaghan (prime minister 1976-79), who could be described as “Thatcher Lite.”

Psychologist Erich Fromm described in great detail his theory that fascism in Germany was powered by the attitudes of the lower middle class. Resentful of the “immorality” of the upper classes, they had even more loathing of the poor, whom they despised as “slackers.” They also took exception to Germany’s “humiliation,” and wanted their country to be “great” and free from immigrants.

Supporters of the “grocer’s daughter” displayed many of the same attitudes, and these attitudes were reflected in policies of the Thatcher era. Immigration rules came in that banned citizens of British dependent territories from living in the United Kingdom. Pesky workers were put in their place with Draconian anti-union legislation, and “short sharp shocks” were introduced to teach manners to young offenders. The lower middle class was actually of little concern to Thatcher’s government.

Leaders like Tony Blair and David Cameron have perpetuated Thatcherite policies, tapping into the same hateful morality.

Most Britons today are far more afraid of terrorists, East-European immigrants, and petty crime than of losing civil liberties or of the constant redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. Such attitudes are promoted by a rightwing media, just as similar attitudes against trade unions, punk rockers and football hooligans were promoted by the same media in the late 1970s.

Life in Britain today is worse for most people than it was for their parents and grandparents. For this we have “Madam Medusa” to thank, along with the millions who allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by her appeal to petty hatreds.

jim makin

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.