Anyone who knows me well will be used to one of my favourite phrases, "I blame Margaret Thatcher". Its a phrase that I use regularly and think way more often so Hilary Mantel's new collection of short stories, titled 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher', rang a profound bell with me. What is interesting is that the story which lends its name to the title of the collection is based on an event in Mantel's life where she watched Thatcher from a distance. At the time it occurred to Mantel that, had she been an IRA assassin, Thatcher could easily have been dead from an IRA bullet.
Whilst on one level, the idea is really attractive, in reality, I'm glad that it didn't happen. Not because the old bag didn't deserve it but because, had it happened, we would, as a nation, have suffered far more than the damage that she inflicted upon us. She, and her policies, would have been set in stone for generations.
Thatcher's dream, being the daughter of a shop-keeper, was to turn Britain into a nation of shop-keepers or, in another way, she sought to turn Britain into a service industry island. And she succeeded. In her world, she held manual labour in contempt which was most probably the driver behind her desire to destroy unionised labour. She attacked on two fronts: on the one hand she attacked the power of the unions themselves and, on the other, she sought to destroy the employment base of the unions. In both, she succeeded and, as a consequence, today we have a nation which broadly reflects Douglas Adams' 'useless third' from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
So who does the manual labour in our post-Thatcher, 'everyone is a consultant' Britain. Well, from my limited experience, its people from abroad, from member nations of the EU, who have come to Britain to fill the gap created by Thatcher's grand plan. And now we have Nigel Farage, AKA 'Thatcher-lite', who wants to send everyone home, back to where they came from and that begs the question, 'who is going to fix the drains when all the Poles leave?'. I doubt our battalions of hairdressers are going to manage it, or management consultants so maybe our nation will have to rediscover, and honour, those manual labourers held in such overpowering contempt by that daft old bitch.