Voices from Russia

Monday, 22 April 2013

Speaking Ill of the Dead

00 Margaret Thatcher caricature. 09.04.13

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Following the death of Margaret ThatcherBritain’s first and, so far, only female Prime Minister… many in Russia are still struggling to understand the polarised reaction to her death back home. On Facebook, Russian playwright Yuri Klavdiyev praised Thatcher’s achievements, writing, “Rest in peace, Comrade Thatcher. You did for your country a thousand times more than [members of the Russian Occupy movement] have done for theirs”. Yet, whilst tributes poured in from landmark figures across the world, in Britain, the song Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead from The Wizard of Oz controversially reached no. 2 on this week’s BBC Radio 1 music chart. On the day of Thatcher’s passing, the Daily Telegraph announced that, given the volume of abusive messages it had received, it was blocking all comments on any Thatcher-related article. That was besides the street parties and other impromptu celebrations.

By her own admission, Thatcher had inherited a country rendered ungovernable by the influence of the trades union movement. Her solution was stark. Thatcher chose to pick a fight with their most powerful and, in doing so, break the will of the movement as a whole. The resulting 1984-85 conflict between the government and the miners’ unions at times bordered on civil war, with British police forces accused of acting more as militia than as law enforcement. That the government won is a matter of historical record. More subjective is the question of cost. Last week, former miner Darren Vaines told the BBC, “The cut went so deep, people have never been able to forget about it”.

When she came to power in 1979, Thatcher’s monetarist government was on a collision course with a young generation radicalised by the extreme politics of the late 1970s. As the government lurched to the right, the educated liberal opposition would step to the left. Joe Strummer, poster boy of the New Left, wanted to illustrate The Clash’s Cost of Living EP with a picture of Margaret Thatcher’s face and a swastika. Alexei Sayle, firebrand of the early alternative comedy scene, joked, “In the old days, people used to be named after what they made. Carter if they made carts, Cooper if they made barrels, Thatcher if they made people sick”.

Many seized upon the Falklands War, which almost certainly saved Thatcher from an early resignation as her popularity waned, as an example of her political opportunism. To howls of popular protest, Thatcher also resisted sanctions against South Africa, branding the African National Congress a “typical terrorist organisation” and inviting apartheid-era President P W Botha on a state visit in 1984. Elsewhere, Thatcher proposed that the deposed Khmer Rouge retain their UN seat for Cambodia. Even after her removal from power, she continued to infuriate the left, calling for the release of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

Last Tuesday, former Irish Republican Army chief of staff Martin McGuinness felt obliged to urge Republican households to stop celebrating the death of the IRA’s former “Number One Target”. Republican resentment of Thatcher grew throughout the 1980s, after her refusal to consider the political status of prisoners at Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison resulted in the deaths, by hunger strike, of Parliament member Bobby Sands and nine other prisoners.

Mass unemployment, climbing since the global recession of the early ’80s, snapped at Thatcher’s heels as she led the way toward her vision of a deregulated economy. Joblessness in Britain reached record highs not seen since the Great Depression. Dramatic cuts in government spending on arts, healthcare, education, and welfare, plus the deliberate sacrifice of many of Britain’s manually-intensive staple industries on the altar of modernity, further alienated an already-disenfranchised poor. All of this, coupled with the internal machinations of Thatcher’s own Conservative Party, would force Thatcher from office in 1990 amidst yet more riots (this time against her government’s poll tax).

For Russians struggling to understand the response to Thatcher at home, it may be useful to recall the polarising reactions to her Cold War contemporary, Mikhail Gorbachyov. Thatcher’s role in the end of the Cold War is debatable. Paul Dukes, professor emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, said, “Her role in bringing the Cold War to an end was probably not as significant as she and her admirers asserted. At least, the individual contributions of Gorbachyov and Reagan were far greater”. Yet, both Gorbachyov and Thatcher, though lauded internationally, engender, at best, mixed reactions on home soil. Gorbachyov, with his surname a global byword for postwar tolerance, only polled 0.5 percent in the first round of the 1996 presidential election. In a 2011 opinion poll, 47 percent of Russians claimed “not to care about him at all”. A significant 20 percent, reported “active hostility” to the former Communist General Secretary. As Gorbachyov leads the eulogies to Thatcher, he may be watching the dramatic reactions to her death unfold in Britain with one eye fixed firmly on his own legacy.

15 April 2013

Simon Speakman

Moscow News

http://themoscownews.com/international/20130415/191442888/Speaking-ill-of-the-dead.html

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Russia Won’t Send an Official Delegation to Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral

00 Margaret Thatcher caricature 01. 09.04.13

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On Tuesday, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov stated that Russia wouldn’t send an official delegation to the funeral of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died at the age of 87.

9 April 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_09/Russia-won-t-be-officially-presented-at-Margaret-Thatcher-s-funeral-official/

Editor’s Note:

Do you need proof that Russia’s turning leftward? Look at the above. VVP is 180 degrees removed from the antics of rightwing bozos such as Potapov, Paffhausen, Dreher, Mattingly, and Trenham. There are unsubstantiated rumours that VVP wants to institute a “Red Monarchy”… don’t laugh… that’s what the Scandinavian monarchies are. After all, Jens Stoltenberg is a leftist Socialist Prime Minister who knelt before his king to receive his office. This shows VVP’s wisdom… he’s the Great Restorer… of Tsarist Russia and the USSR… both at the same time! He’s taking the best of both and tossing out the bad… what’s not to like in that?

The New Russia rising will be both Red AND White… that’s why the extremists on the Far Right fringe of the ROCOR better get with the programme… or leave us. That would leave the decent ordinary folks… that can’t come too soon for me (and for many others, too)…

BMD

 

Ken Livingstone: “It’s a Tragedy Mrs Thatcher Ever Came to Power”

00 Margaret Thatcher caricature. 09.04.13

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Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was a fierce critic of Mrs Thatcher when she was in power. The British media gave him the moniker “Red Ken” for his socialist beliefs during her tenure. Thatcher viewed the Greater London Council, of which Livingstone was leader, as a political threat and a waste of money. In 1986, Thatcher’s government abolished the GLC, putting Livingstone out of a job.

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There are two things to say about Mrs Thatcher. Unlike most politicians, who’re spineless, who never want to actually lead, and who wait to see where public opinion’s going, she had beliefs that almost no one in her cabinet actually shared at the time she became the leader of the Tory Conservative Party. However, she ignored them, she drove ahead, and she made the changes that she believed that Britain needed… you have to respect that. I can’t think of any other modern Prime Minister with that degree of self-confidence and courage in their beliefs.

The tragedy for Britain is that almost everything she believed in was wrong, and almost all the problems that assail us today are the legacy of her neoliberal economics… the high unemployment, the collapse of our manufacturing industry. She inherited a nation that had some problems, but she made them infinitely worse… she deregulated the banking industry, she decided to write off our industry, she wouldn’t build good homes for ordinary people to rent, and she’s left a terrible legacy that’ll take a generation to clear up.

She did terrible things, such as abolishing the Greater London Council because she didn’t agree with it; it was the first real rolling back of democracy in a hundred years of British history. It’s very hard to think of anyone in a modern democracy who’d do something like that. The US President always has state governors and mayors critical of their policy, it’d never occur to them to do away with them. That meant terrible problems for London; we had a decade-and-a-half with no leadership. We actually proposed that we should stop discriminating against black people and against homosexuals; we recognised that women had equal rights… hardly insane, but just a bit ahead of its time.

Clearly, [the state funeral] isn’t right. The only politician of my lifetime that had a state funeral was Winston Churchill, who was a decisive force in the defeat of Adolf Hitler. If we’re to think about anyone today, it should be those whose lives she destroyed. We used to have a sound manufacturing industry; she wiped it out. Look at people’s lives… our suicide rates have gone up since the financial crisis; the bankers abused all the freedom that she gave them. We had a country used to virtually full employment before she got in… ever since, we’ve had people and whole communities just written off.

Overwhelmingly, it’s a tragedy Mrs Thatcher ever came to power. I respect the courage of her convictions and the way she led; the tragedy is she led us in the wrong direction.

9 April 2013

Ken Livingstone

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_09/Its-a-tragedy-Mrs-Thatcher-ever-came-to-power-Ken-Livingstone-211/

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Leftist Fico Wins Massive Mandate as Slovak Prime Minister… First Non-Coalition Government in Slovakia’s History

Slovak PM Robert Fico (1964- )… a man of the Left… massive victor over the rightwing “privatisation” scummers. The image shows him at a ceremony honouring Victory Day.

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On Wednesday, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič appointed centre-left leader Robert Fico as Prime Minister after his SMER Party won a landslide victory in an early election last month. The 47-year-old lawyer, who concluded Slovakia’s accession to the Eurozone during his previous term as prime minister in 2006-2010, replaces Iveta Radičová, whose centre-right government collapsed in October last year. Fico has said he would honour pledges to cut the fiscal gap below the EU’s official limit of 3 percent next year, flagging higher taxes for wealthy Slovaks and companies.

4 April 2012

Reuters

http://news.yahoo.com/slovak-president-appoints-leftist-fico-prime-minister-102141213.html

Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep this simple. The rightwing government (that lasted less than two years) was the darling of Western rightwingers in the media and blogosphere. Well… the Slovak people resisted the rightwingers’ attempts to destroy the Slovak safety net à la the US Republican Party… which led to the coalition partners of the rightwingers taking to their heels, bringing down the pro-American lickspittle government. The position of the USA’s been on the fritz since the Iraqi aggression in ’03, and it’s been critical since the defeat of the Bushies’ pals in Georgia in ’08 (the disastrous South Ossetia adventure, which started with a sneak rocket barrage on sleeping civilians… which was approved by GWB, McCain, and Palin).

Robert Fico’s a genuine man of the people… his father was a forklift operator and his mother worked as a shop assistant. The people love him, and he learned valuable lessons from his defeat in 2010. He’s a communist and man of the Left… nothing to be ashamed of! If the rightwing loonies want to call you a “Socialist” for being rational and decent, there’s only one rejoinder to that… “Thank you!” That’s the way it is…

This is turning out to be a “RED” year… don’t let the unhinged bellowings of the Right unnerve you… they’re not what they appear to be… they’re just a loud set, not a dominant one. The only poll that counts is the one in November… and you KNOW what to do. Either it’s the President or it’s The Handmaid’s Tale… not a hard one to decide, is it?

BMD

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