Death is Death is Death

When I got a text this afternoon telling me that Margaret Thatcher was dead at the age of 87 two thoughts occurred to me: she lived sixty years longer than she let Bobby Sands live and, as Stalin commented on learning of the death of Hitler, that’s the end of the despot. Stalin gave it a slightly coarser inflexion.
I have never been of the disposition to join those Facebook groups that have long been salivating at the prospect of her pending demise and who promised all night long parties to mark her passing. It is difficult to reconcile dignity with gleeful gloating. Yet Thatcher, like few others of her era, did arouse that type of unbridled animosity and a burning desire to vent it.

I have not the slightest intention of feigning sympathy, instinctively sharing the view of Salman Rushdie that when despots fall only hypocrites grieve. We will have enough of that over the coming days as her avowed enemies fall over themselves and each other in the competition to be more effusive in their praise; people who had absolutely nothing good to say about her when she was alive and in power, will be found daintily playing diplomacies and niceties, pretending to forget the what others are compelled to remember.

In addition to putting republican hunger strikers to the sword, she razed the British mining industry and strangled the NUM, slaughtered the helpless sailors of the Belgrano, campaigned vigorously for the release of the murderous Augusto Pinochet after his London arrest, and humiliated Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.  There were other acts of intransigence or insensitivity which will no doubt be covered by the obituarists who, true to form, have had their copy ready for years.

In every sense she was an enemy and my enmity for her, molten hot during the hunger strikes, has never abated. In an action most likely approved by one of her fellow Westminster MPs, she was almost killed in a Provisional IRA bomb carefully planted at a Brighton hotel. The Sinn Fein boss then (and now), Gerry Adams, called it a blow for democracy rather than a blow against it. No republican disagreed with him. Thatcher lived long enough to see the defeat of the organisation that almost killed her, although I suspect she was non compos mentis to a point that she was denied savouring the sweet taste of victory.

Her lust for power was the stuff that legends are made from. I recall being told by someone with an ear to the ground in London that for some time after her ousting from the PM spot her aides would issue her with briefing papers and discussion documents so that her need to be in the know and in command could be sated no matter how delusional such satisfaction was.

Although she had established a reputation of ‘the lady’s not for turning’ she proved the old maxim that if you get the name of an early riser you can lie on in bed as long as you want. She did turn. In fact the republican hunger strikers actually defeated her but that knowledge was withheld from them on the 5th of July 1981 for nefarious ends, the precise details of which we can still only speculate about. Their achievement was wilfully concealed from them so that they would continue to lose their lives in pursuit of a victory already secured. Steered into a trap from which six never made it back, they were cheated rather than defeated. 

A couple of years ago my wife tried to open up a line of communication to Thatcher in the hope that she might be forthcoming in a way that the Committee for Organised Lying was not about the 1981 hunger strike. The entreaty failed. The message that came back was that she was not mentally fit enough to be interviewed. An aide it seems made that decision. My wife’s request never made it to her ears.

For those hoping Margaret Thatcher is in hell, there is disappointing news. She is not. In fact she is not anywhere but in the memories of those who loved or hated her alike. I will spare her no more time. Today my thoughts are with Rosaleen Sands not Margaret Thatcher, with the mother who mournfully told the world ‘my son is dying’ and not with the megalomaniac who arrogantly pronounced ‘crime is crime is crime’ and for whom now death is death is death.


  1. O’Hara, Hughes, McCreesh and Sands,
    Doherty and Lynch;
    McDonnell, Hurson, McElwee, Devine

    Their memory is forever on my mind
    Pictures of their faces in my eyes
    My sorrow and grief will not subside
    And my love for them I will not disguise

  2. I rang the BBC today after the one o clock news was extended to cover the death of that waste of space,after an hour of listening to groveling wannabes lamenting the demise of the woman "who saved Britain" and pissed at the lack of balance in this extended reporting,I could take no more it was either kick the tv or get on the phone,eventually a nicccee lady answered and when I asked would we be hearing from anybody from the republican or the mining communities who would be glad of a bit of good news ,the public broadcaster employee hung up..

  3. Just seen the plans for Thatchers grave...beautiful really..but I think they should have made the dancefloor bigger

  4. at a seance Michael Jackson appeared and started singing ;

    She's Dead, she's Dead , She's Really , Really Dead , She's coming down , I've made her Bed.

    I'm just thinking, If she had have been blown to bits in the Brighton Bomb , would things be different , would the war still be going on, would we have had our country united, but, then again, everything was left to Gerry and his army council, and , MI5. Will he be going to her funeral?, Martyboy has to go because he is one of the Royals now.

    Have to disagree with you Anthony , She is stoking the fires down below.

  5. Reading the comments about Thatcher on the internet today it struck me that when she went to war with Argentina she was the most unpopular PM in British history. She got a victory 8000 miles from home and went on to complete three terms in office on the wave of patriotic fervour the Falklands war created.

    During her decade + in office she decimated all things British, electric, gas, telecom and govenment housing. Her government selling them all off on the cheap and and ministers invariably resigning their MP seats for positions on the board of directors of the new privatised companies. The coal, car, shipbuilding and manufacturing industries were decimated to wreck trade unionism. Entire mining communities were laid waste and have never recovered. Then she began importing cheap coal from Poland (eastern Europe) and Argentina! How patriotic for a woman ratchetting up the cold war and who went to war a few years previously over the Falklands.

    It just seems to me in order to destroy and sell your own country you first need to get everyone all jingoistic and patriotic then you can do as you like. Did the SF leadership employ the same tactic post hungerstrike? Being in a solid position they did a u-turn on everything they ever stood for and still the muppets in SF are blinkered and hypnotized enough not to see where they are.

    Funny old world. But there's one less cunt in it tonight. She'll be waiting for Gerry and Marty boy in due course, i'm sure they'll have plenty to chat about.

  6. Fuck her, we celebrated for a few hours after the news broke. Then I got fed up, not worth caring about. As a few commentators on this blog said the media coverage has been pretty unbalanced.

    Anthony, I like that quote from Salman Rushdie, plenty of hypocrites getting airtime mourning now. That's why I've turned off the news media.

    Just thinking about all the lives she ruined now is making me upset, would rather not think about it.


  7. Interesting piece, Anthony. I've been thinking of a separate question tonight that your piece does't directly answer, but definitely sheds light on

    My hypothetical was: If the British prime minister in 81 had not been Thatcher but *had* been A.N. Other leader of the Tory Party, would the outcome have been different?

    I suppose my initial instinct had been that her character and her very being seemed so uncompromising that maybe even another Tory would have yielded more in search of a compromise deal.

    But then you here bring up the O'Rawe stuff, which (without wanting to jump into that whole thing again) suggests she did, in fact, yield.

    So maybe her approach would have been replicated by any other Tory leader of that time on the substance, even if others would not necessarily have used her particular tone?

    Anyways, if you have time or inclination to address this, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

    For the sake of clarity, I am asking as a private c
    citizen (!), not as a reporter!

  8. Cf. Morrissey: ""Every move she made was charged by negativity; she destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the Irish Freedom Fighters and allowed them to die, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the Ivory Trade, she had no wit and no warmth and even her own Cabinet booted her out." One wonders if the bomb had hit its primary target how the "long war" might have fared.

  9. Will the OFMDFM have to attend next weeks funeral or will SF send a scapegoat to represent them?

  10. In the midst of all this whipping up of anti-Thatcher hysteria (and rightly so!!) it as good to see Bríd Rogers last night say on UTV Live that 'SF mainipulated the Hunger strikers'..Raymond McCartney seemed very taken aback by her comments and fortunately for him the discussion to another topic..

  11. The passing of Thatcher is bringing a great variety comments from so many people throughout the world, but probably none more so of interest are the comments of Irish people. Listening to the radio as I do it was one programme after another talking about the life and times of the past PM of Britain. After being saturated with so much news and also having my own thoughts on her I tried to collate all this information.
    Firstly the people of England voted her into power 3 times plus making her the first woman PM
    Because of the mandate given to her by the British people she set about breaking the will of what she termed the “bully boys” the NUM and the IRA which she done with great gusto. She was the first PM to set in train a process , The Anglo Irish Agreement were the demise and the surrender of weapons of a once powerful Provo IRA came to pass
    Of all the comments I listened to I thought the TD for Louth Gerry Adams smacked mostly of jealousy.
    He said she “caused great suffering” at this point my thought process stopped and laughter took over. Gerry would love to have been as powerful as her, imagine him being able to tell a whole population it’s his way or the highway, he sounded envious that he could only control a small percentage of the population
    My own thoughts were that it’s a pity someone like her was not in power in Ireland over the past 10-15 years when we had Bertie, Brian Cowan and co raping our economy for their own greater good
    If we had a choice of Bertie, Cowan, or Adams as leader, would someone like Thatcher not be a better choice

  12. fenian

    McCartney was spared because of the ongoing media self-censorship. If any journalist stops going with the flow of positive GFA/piss-process spin, even briefly, their jobs will be in that precarious geographic location of all jobs, a town called Jepardy.

    Good for Brid Rodgers. Bit more of the same would be great.


  14. Marty, it's for the bankers to make a few quid (how else are they going to pay for austerity)...Just think about the advertising, TV time..Book's to be written...

  15. Should have said...How else are they going to pay themselves (not just austerity).

    Bookworn, Fionnuala, Helen..Even men have 'Blonde moment's'..

  16. Niall,

    I suppose a ‘what if question’ typically gets a ‘perhaps but’ answer.

    I don’t believe the outcome would have been a great deal different. And consideration of it would need to evaluated in terms of who were the constraining influences she worked with. Despite her will power and ambition which had not waned throughout her premiership when it was time to go she was told to. And she was also picking up a hard line baton from Labour who had let two hunger strikers die in 1974 and 1976. Indeed during the hunger strike Don Concannon made an intrusion into Bobby Sands’ ward to tell him Labour supported the Tory policy. So the political mood of the governing class was to be inflexible. Had the political class been opposed to her stance she would have been cute enough not to face it down.

    And as I pointed out she did switch lanes on the hunger strike. Even if we are not persuaded by O’Rawe’s line (and I am persuaded) the considerable concessions once the hunger strike ended – including the decisive one on clothes - are revealing.

    My own speculative view is the difference between her and a possible alternative was more a matter of style rather than substance.

  17. Frankie,
    I'll forgive you that one because I am in a very forgiving mood today. Us Blondes do alright and then get forgiven for our trespasses quicker than the average dumbo

    I enjoyed watching Maggie's pre finale, all over the place and no doubt climbing walls and not knowing why!
    She was cruel and lacked even the very basic grasp of empathy and sometimes that comes back.

  18. Mackers

    Those who moulded Thatcher, the likes of Airey Neive and those who surrounded her in Government turned on her when she went from attacking individual sections of society like the miners to pasting the entirety of society with the despised pol tax. Perhaps a game of sums where as long as the oppressed were half or less than half it was safe for their jobs. The poll-tax tipped the scales completely and she was dumped pretty swiftly.


    Not a tear for the tens of thousands of miners who had followed their fathers and grandfathers down-t-pits...nor for the wives, communities and kids of any of the families on the recieving end of her policies for over a decade. BUT teary eyed leaving number 10 in November 1990. A wee tear was only ever shed for herself.

    Is there not a word that describes people like that? I dont mean the 'C' word I mean a proper psychology term?


    it most certainly is a FUNFERALL and not a funeral!!

  19. Supremely well said, Mackers.

  20. I have just read that Jim McAllister has passed away.Jim was a prominent spokesman for psf over the years,in the last few year Jim was to the forefront in seeking justice for the Quinn family whose son Paul was beaten to death by the pira,a regular contrbutor here on TPQ,Jim had a great sense of humour and was a staunch republican he will be missed.

  21. Margaret Thatcher the only person to fuck more minors than Jimmy Savile and the catholic church

  22. Marty

    That is truely sad to hear regarding Jim. A real pitty. God bless him and his family.

  23. Veteran republican McAllister (68) dies after cancer battle

    The last sentence reads like this.(change the names and it reads like a carbon copy of what I read about Marian Price wanting to say goodbye in private to her sister)

    He [his son Turloch] has also been refused parole to attend the funeral in Cullyhanna tomorrow but the family's lawyer is seeking a judicial review of that decision.

    And next week Thatcher get's a military funeral funded by the tax payer. Something is very wrong.

  24. Frankie,

    I attended the funeral today in South Armagh. Jim was a solid republican and independent mind who did not simply give up his beliefs because somebody in leadership directed him to. His son was able to attend the funeral although the time given was grossly insufficient. Pat McNamee gave a fitting oration.