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People wonder… ‘who the **** is Margaret Thatcher?’


4:05 pm - April 8th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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This list was almost inevitable, wasn’t it?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Kismet Hardy

I’m sure many of us wish we could say the same…

They all appear to have been born after she left office, so not too surprising.

Be warned Mt Bieber.

Mr Bieber rather.

4. Mark Dragilocevic

Shocking to see some young people totally unaware of one of our greatest Prime Ministers. They benefit from her legacy after all.

Tell them she was the runner-up on America’s Got Talent.

Thatcher the Milk Snatcher – Kenneth Baker’s national curriculum obviously did a good job of keeping latest 20th Century Political History.

Not very sure Gove will make an improvement here.

7. Peter Thompson

Can’t understand why they have access to Twitter but not Google.

Where the **** is Mt Bieber?!

9. Man on Clapham Omnibus

4. Mark Dragilocevic

The legacy of no access to a decent job or future. Probably best not to tell them.

10. Mark Dragilocevic

“Man on Clapham Omnibus”

There are jobs out there for young people. They just have to get off their bottoms, improve their skills and seek employment.

There’s also the inevitable Tumblr

http://whoismargaretthatcher.tumblr.com/

Kenneth Baker’s national curriculum obviously did a good job of keeping latest 20th Century Political History

Reasonably certain none of the above were at school in the 1980s…

13. Elizabelta

Mark tell me again how many people applied for 9 minimum wage jobs in Costa Coffee and how many applied for 1000 jobs with Jaguar!

10. Mark Dragilocevic

This is what happens when young people get on their bikes:

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/1-700-chase-just-jobs-new-Costa-Coffee-Mapperley/story-18190765-detail/story.html#axzz2PtEtC7ya

The big flaw with government policy here is blaming lack of economic growth on the work shy feckless poor, when in fact most people and business are choosing not to spend whatever money they have.

15. white trash

“Who’s Margaret Thatcher?”

Truly, a most fitting tribute!

Says it all about this country.

16. Matthew Blott

I think the ignorance of the Facebook generation is shocking. Like her or loathe her Margaret Thatcher was one of the major figures of the late twentieth century, not just in Britain but globally – the fact a lot of young people know nothing about her tells you a lot about the state of education in this country.

17. Vague Englishman

This is a condemnation of today’s youth.

“the fact a lot of young people know nothing about her tells you a lot about the state of education in this country.”

Alternatively, it tells us a lot about those who post to Facebook.

School history tends to end with WW2 or thereabouts for fear that anything more recent would be controversial.

IMO adults aren’t conspicuously good at asseessing the history of Thatcher’s government. Most seem to think that posting a heap of abuse settles all that needs to be said.

IFS: “During Margaret Thatcher’s premiership public spending grew in real terms by an average of 1.1% a year, while during John Major’s premiership it grew by an average of 2.4% a year.”

Sam Brittan in the FT: “The relative decline of the British economy in the century up to the late 1970s has been reversed. Since then, the UK has caught up with and even overtaken its principal trading partners. The previous two sentences are neither a typing mistake nor a daydream. They are the sober conclusions of the country’s leading quantitative historian, Prof Nicholas Crafts”
http://www.samuelbrittan.co.uk/text399_p.html

19. Gilbey Strub

Well, at least they’re asking. Curiosity better than indifference.

@16
“I think the ignorance of the Facebook generation is shocking”

I can think of no better tribute. When she was ousted in 1990, a mate suggested going out for a pint to celebrate.

I suggested that the best insult is to ignore.

Maggie who?

21. Shatterface

Can you tell where they’re from? I mean, how many here can name the last five prime ministers of Canada or New Zealand?

It’s a bit Anglocentric to think the entire world is familiar with Thatcher – we’re not talking about Susan Boyle here.

22. Matthew Blott

@davidh You are a moron.

23. AngryYoungLady

Oh my God, it’s true! I just asked my little sister who’s born in 93 and all she could say was that Margaret Thatcher “had something to do with politics”. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

24. badstephen

A number of explanations:

1. As @21 suggests, maybe some of these people are not from this country.

2. Those pesky youngsters are just winding us up, pretending to know nothing about a seminal figure from our generation in a “too-cool-for-school” kind of way.

3. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect people to know too much about someone who left power three years before they were born. I couldn’t tell you that much about Douglas-Home (even whether he was Alex or Alec)

4. They are making a sophisticated satirical point that Thatcher as an individual was not that significant, merely a catspaw for the grabbing of resources by the wealthy which has occurred pretty much everywhere worldwide for the last 30 years.

25. Derek Hattons Tailor

State education – all those bearded lefty teachers airbrushed her from history to free up the curriculum for relevant stuff like climate change, healthy eating and using google. They don’t know who Churchill was either. Whereas I, at that age, knew who Lloyd George, Beveridge, the jarrow marchers, etc were.

School history leaves out recent history as it could be “controversial”. In Minister Gove’s new fangled school curriculum, compulsory history ends at 14, by which time young teens will have reached the industrial revolution.

“Prof Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education at the University of London, said: ‘If you teach chronologically [as is proposed] you end up with a seven-year-old understanding of the Saxons, a 10-year-old understanding of the Middle Ages and a 14-year-old understanding of the industrial revolution.'”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21600298

14 year-olds are going to understand a whole lot about Adam Smith and laissez-faire market capitalism during the industrial revolution, aren’t they?

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 17 Vague Englishman

“This is a condemnation of today’s youth.”

Yes, god forbid they shouldn’t know anything about a person who has no real relevance to their lives. And we should definitely judge an entire generation on the basis of seven tweets.

If someone doesn’t know something that you know, that just proves that they’re stupid, right?

28. Robin Levett

To those excusing the Twits as either too young or too foreign to remember her; see #7:

Can’t understand why they have access to Twitter but not Google.

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Robin

Yes, but the general thread here is “OMG PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF THATCHER ARE IDIOTS!”. I agree it’s dumb to ask Twitter who someone is when Google’s right there, but that’s a different thing.

I agree who cares, she left power 23 years ago. It only matters to the baby boom generation. To the rest it is like getting wound up or loving Stan Baldwin

In 100 years time thatcher will looked upon as the 80’s version of Stanley Baldwin conservative government of the 1930’s.
1. Bringer of necessary anti union legislation
2. Whose government fought needless wars on the edge of the empire.
3. Whose ministers associated with fascist dictatorships
4. Associated with an economic boom in the last days of their administration.
5. Associated with high unemployment

“State education – all those bearded lefty teachers airbrushed her from history to free up the curriculum for relevant stuff like climate change, healthy eating and using google. They don’t know who Churchill was either. Whereas I, at that age, knew who Lloyd George, Beveridge, the jarrow marchers, etc were.”
No stereotypes there then.
Will not climate change and healthy eating be taught in science or citizenship.
In year 7 are they not taught UK Medieval Realms and in year 8 Tudors and Stuarts. I think they are taught about the 30’s in year 10 if they take the option of History, so my wife explains.

“I think the ignorance of the Facebook generation is shocking. Like her or loathe her Margaret Thatcher was one of the major figures of the late twentieth century, not just in Britain but globally – the fact a lot of young people know nothing about her tells you a lot about the state of education in this country.”
How many young people knew about Macmillan in the 1970’s.
I find it quite refreshing they are not politically absorbed fanatics.

Lloyd George, Beveridge, the jarrow marchers, etc were

etc? Brilliant!

As mentioned before, school history tends to finish at about the end of WW2, if not before, and avoid recent events for fear of being controversial.

By reports, the most popular special periods chosen for history A-level courses were the Third Reich and the Soviet Union.

At the time of the federal elections in Germany in 2005, I wanted to look up some finer points about the German constitution so went to the well-reputed central reference library in the London borough where I live. I sought the help of a librarian to consult the computer-based catalogue.

There was just one book on modern German politics – a thoroughly respectable academic text – but several dozen texts on the Third Reich. A week or so later, I thought I check France to see if there was a bias. The result was similar: one text on modern French politics and dozens of texts on the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. All very curious.

36. Daniel Factor

Yeah chances are some of the middle class kids partying over her death only just heard of her and thought “Dunno who she is but it’s a chance to get lashed”.

“As mentioned before, school history tends to finish at about the end of WW2, if not before, and avoid recent events for fear of being controversial.”
You can understand why ?
Look at the fuss now, some poor teacher makes a statement one way another and the Mail/Mirror will be over him like s**t on a shovel

“Look at the fuss now, some poor teacher makes a statement one way another and the Mail/Mirror will be over him like s**t on a shovel”

Absolutely. In Mrs T’s case there are fundamental issues about economic theory and policy, which are still be argued over in academia. How well are school kids – and their teachers – placed to deal with that? On top of that, there is controversy over Gove’s recent proposals for a new history curriculum for schools as reflected in this BBC report:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21600298

There are a few reputable British history texts dealing with the 20th century up to, or focused on the post-war period but the selection is narrow and intended more for informed adult readers:

Peter Clarke: Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-2000 (Penguin Books)
Kenneth Morgan: Britain Since 1945: The Peoples Peace (Oxford UP 2001)

I suspect politicians would fall out even over those.

Another reflection

An altogether more polemical assessment of Mrs T is Simon Jenkins: Thatcher and Sons (Penguin 2006).

One great merit of this book is that the narrative is extensively documented with numerous citations of press reports. The book won’t make comforting reading for either self-declared Thatcherites or for those who cheered on New Labour.

More thoughts on historic sources: A valuable, easily accessible online listening resource on the history of post-war politics is these broadcast reminiscences of Brian Walden:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/the_westminster_hour/4603210.stm

His reflections on Mrs T are well down the menus of choices.

@ #31 p.diddy
High unemployment occurred under Ramsay MacDonald and reduced under Baldwin.
What unnecessary war? None under Baldwin.
The opposition to fascist dictatorships was led by Churchill and Eden

42. Derek Hattons Tailor

@ 35 When I was doing O level History in the mid/late 70s the course text finished with the Vietnam war, which had only ended a few years earlier and was both controversial and relevant at the time with the cold war still at its peak and the US having a collective meltdown over its conduct in Vietnam and absorbing the fact that it lost. I actually remember us having a debate in class about when history stops and the present starts.
History should not try and avoid being controversial, otherwise it risks being just a list of dates and “facts”. Ironically the very thing the progressives, who are the keenest on airbrushing history to avoid offence, are vociferous in criticising the traditionalists for.

I doubt how many history teachers are capable of dealing with the controversies over economic policies in the post-WW2 period, especially since the controversies still haven’t been resolved.

“High unemployment occurred under Ramsay MacDonald”

True – because the minority Labour government bought the Treasury line that public spending on an employment creation programme – as advocated in Keynes’s pamplet for the Liberals: Can Lloyd George do it? (1929) – would crowd out equivalent private spending. Oswald Mosley, a cabinet miniater in MacDonald’s government, resigned in 1930 saying the governement was doing too little to tackle unemployment.

One of the first actions of the incoming National Goverment in September 1931 was to take the Pound off the Gold Standard, whereupon it depreciated by about a quarter. Snowden, who had been the Labour chancellor, reportedly said: They didn’t tell us we could do that.

With the Pound floating in the foreign exchange markets, the Bank of England could cut the Bank Rate. By June 1932 it was down at 2pc where it stayed until August 1939. One result was a speculative housing boom in the south of England and parts of the midlands – those rows of 1930s semis. Most of those Odeon and Gaumont cinemas were built around the mid 1930s. But the speculative building boom didn’t spread across the country: Wales, Scotland and the North of England remained deeply depressed.

44. Chaise Guevara

@ 42 Derek Hattons Tailor

“History should not try and avoid being controversial, otherwise it risks being just a list of dates and “facts”. Ironically the very thing the progressives, who are the keenest on airbrushing history to avoid offence, are vociferous in criticising the traditionalists for.”

Um, what’s your basis for saying that progressives are the most guilty of this? Last major attempt at airbrushing I heard of was Gove’s plan to rewrite the syllabus to make the UK look blameless and super-awesome. You can only get “Gove” and “progressive” into a sentence if you have “is not a” in the middle.

Oh, and progressives aren’t against teaching facts. They might be against teaching “facts”, depending on what your scare quotes indicate.

I recently puchased from Amazon one of the last few remaining copies of Southgate: English Economic History, which is very much a dates approach. That is why I wanted a copy even though it has the supposedly dreadful drawback of treating history thematically, not chronologically. This thematic approach to economic history has long since been superceded by the likes of:

MJ Dauton: Progress and Poverty – An economic and social history of Britain 1700-1850 (CUP 1995)
MJ Daunton: Wealth and Welfare – An economic and social history of Britain 1850-1951 (CUP 2007)
Stephen Broadberry (ed): The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe Vol 2, 1870 to the present (CUP 2010)

I’ve a lingering suspicion that economic and social history matters more to most folk than does knowing about kings and queens.

46. Sian Stewart

I, personally, would be embarrassed to show the world that I was such an ignoramous, that I have to ask the question…Who was Margaret Thatcher?’ Unbelievable. The history taught in school these days, must really be poor!

47. Chaise Guevara

@ 46 Sian

“I, personally, would be embarrassed to show the world that I was such an ignoramous, that I have to ask the question…Who was Margaret Thatcher?’ Unbelievable.”

If you don’t know who Thatcher is, then you don’t know whether or not it’s embarrassing not to have heard of her.

“The history taught in school these days, must really be poor!”

Yes, it doesn’t cover modern politics and therefore must be rubbish *rolls eyes*

“!High unemployment occurred under Ramsay MacDonald and reduced under Baldwin.”
In 1931, Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald formed a National Government, most of whose ministers were Conservatives and which won an enormous majority at the 1931 General Election. As Lord President of the Council, Baldwin took over many of the Prime Minister’s duties due to MacDonald’s failing health. So he was part of that government of high unemployment.
What unnecessary war? None under Baldwin.
Sorry no necessary wars under Baldwin
“The oppositions to fascist dictatorships was led by Churchill and Eden.”
No Lord Halifax’s , no Tories supporting Franco, Mussolini and Hitler, no right club or Tory aristocratic with leanings to Mr Hitler under Baldwin’s watch.
Actually you make point, Thatcher was the Baldwin of the 80’s
“What a man! I have lost my heart!… Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world… If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely from the beginning of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passion of Leninism.”
Winston Churchill quote on Mussolini, after a visit to Rome (1927).
from the Illustrated Sunday Herald – 8th February 1920:
“The part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistic Jews … is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from Jewish leaders … The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in (Hungary and Germany, especially Bavaria).
Winston again


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