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Tariq Ali: 'Thatcherism continues'; Gerry Adams: `Thatcher did great hurt'

For more on Thatcher and Thatcherism, click HERE.

April 9, 2013 -- SinnFein.ie -- Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting on the death today of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said:

Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British prime minister.

Working-class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.

Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge.

Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations, including the targeting of solicitors like Pat Finucane, alongside more open military operations and refused to recognise the rights of citizens to vote for parties of their choice.

Her failed efforts to criminalise the republican struggle and the political prisoners is part of her legacy.

It should be noted that in complete contradiction of her public posturing, she authorised a back channel of communications with the Sinn Féin leadership but failed to act on the logic of this.

Unfortunately she was faced with weak Irish governments who failed to oppose her securocrat agenda or to enlist international support in defence of citizens in the north.

Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.

Her Irish policy failed miserably.

Tariq Ali: Thatcher's legacy, from austerity to apartheid

April 8, 2013 -- Democracy Now! -- Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87. Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister, serving three terms in office. Known as the "Iron Lady", Thatcher became synonymous with austerity economics as a close ally of US President Ronald Reagan. She famously declared to critics of neoliberal capitalism that "there is no alternative". Her long-running battle with striking British miners dealt a major blow to the trade union movement in Britain and ushered in a wave of privatisations.

On foreign policy, Thatcher presided over the Falklands [Malvinas] war with Argentina, provided critical support to Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet and famously labelled Nelson Mandela a "terrorist" while backing South Africa’s apartheid regime.

We go to London to discuss Thatcher’s legacy with Tariq Ali, writer, activist and editor of the New Left Review.

This is a rush transcript.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq, talk about the legacy of, talk about the tenure of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

TARIQ ALI: Amy, there’s no doubt about it. She transformed British politics. She basically won over the opposition. Her legacy is still very much in force, so she’s not at all dead in terms of what is going on in this country. Her policies are being carried out by the [Conservative-Liberal Democrat] coalition government. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour prime ministers, were completely enthralled to her. She was the first person invited by Blair to 10 Downing Street when he became prime minister, to show how much he owed her, and Gordon Brown did exactly the same thing.

So we have had a continuum, that the process Margaret Thatcher started off was carried on by Blair, who used rhetoric on the Iraq, Kosovo and Afghan wars very similar to the rhetoric she used on the Falklands. And this policy has continued. So her legacy is effectively to have wrecked Britain economically and to have made it a total vassal state of the American empire.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq, can you talk about the legacy of Thatcherism for the working class in Britain?

TARIQ ALI: Well, basically, she took on the workers’ movement, which had become very strong. Trade unions were very powerful in this country, and they were effectively challenging capital by demanding a share of the cake, and being quite successful. The miners’ union, one of the most respected unions in the country, challenged her. She organised the state, the use of the police, use of the secret services, to defeat them. And she did it, and she referred to union militancy as "the enemy within". She was very hot on enemies, either abroad or at home. And that phrase "the enemy within" has been used subsequently against dissidents of other sorts by her successors.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about her foreign policy, from the Falklands War—and we only have a minute—to her support of the apartheid regime, calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist?

TARIQ ALI: Well, she did call Nelson Mandela a terrorist, but one should remember that the Western governments as a whole were not at all friendly to the ANC, sustained and maintained apartheid, with a few exceptions in Scandinavia, throughout it. And Thatcher was upfront about it. Her foreign policy was deeply conservative and reactionary, and that foreign policy has not changed since she was forced out on Europe. Europe is still a big, big divisive issue in the country and within the Conservative Party as a whole.

And so, on every level, Amy, domestic level, international level, Thatcherism continues. One shouldn’t imagine that it’s over. And I hate to say this, but the fact that we haven’t come up, or no one has—neither the centre-left or anyone else has managed to come up with an alternative to the Wall Street crash of 2008, does indicate that there was some truth in her statement that there is no alternative, at least as far as the mainstream is concerned.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, I want to thank you for being with us.

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