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on 25 March 2003
This fascinating book studies how the ruling class created an image of Thatcher, to try to make her appeal to those whose interests are totally opposed to the rulers’ interests. Ms Nunn draws on a wide range of material – speeches, press photos, campaign posters, radio interviews, memorabilia, magazine articles and political biographies.
The ruling class’s propaganda agencies portrayed Thatcher in the redtops’ image of the heroic scab, as ‘defiantly’ standing up against their trade union, the posturing heroics of taking ‘tough’ decisions, the lone embattled strike-breaker, ultimately triumphant.
Her fabled housewifely virtues covered the deliberate destruction of industry. Thatcher undermined many institutions of ruling class power, the EU, Parliament, the judiciary, the BBC. Her subservience to the USA masqueraded as independence. Her ancient, discredited capitalist thinking was called new and progressive. Thatcher’s simplistic moralism, that all economic, political and social problems can be solved by appealing to ‘good people’ to punish ‘evil-doers’, that war, crime and unemployment are due to other people’s immorality.
But Nunn unnecessarily uses the prism of psychoanalysis, invoking the discredited theorist Freud. She imports a vocabulary that screens rather than describes reality, unsurprisingly, since she is a Lecturer in Middlesex University’s the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies.
Also, like many academics, she privileges her subject: she sees propaganda as determining how people think, assuming that images lock into a set of psychological constructs, rather than appreciating that people’s ideas come from their real-life experiences. How much did the image really affect the way people thought? Thatcherism did have a substance, of turning your back on your trade union, of denouncing (other people’s) pay rises, of seeking the easy solution, of avoiding political thought and work, relying on ‘capitalism to do it for you’. It is never a matter of just passively blaming leaders: our class has to take the responsibility for Britain’s future.
Of course, it’s so different now under Labour.
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