Socialists hated Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter, because she didn't know her place. Julie Burchill:
A whole host of characters who had previously passed for decent revealed themselves as sneering snobs when they applied themselves to Thatcher. Mary Warnock said it made her feel sick to hear that Mrs T bought her a pussy-bow blouse at Marks & Spencer; Jonathan Miller whipped himself into a self-righteous frenzy over “her odious suburban gentility.”
Toby Young takes up this theme in The Spectator:
On a warm summer evening in 1986, the crème-de-la-crème of London’s literary establishment met at Antonia Fraser’s house in Holland Park to discuss how they could bring about the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. Among their number were Harold Pinter, Ian McEwan, John Mortimer, David Hare, Margaret Drabble, Michael Holroyd, Angela Carter and Salman Rushdie, who referred to Thatcher in The Satanic Verses as ‘Mrs Torture’.
Strangely enough, no angry Tories called for Rushdie's murder, although the many Muslims who did would doubtless have wanted to see the Iron Lady shrouded in a veil.
With characteristic lack of modesty, they called themselves the 20 June Group — a reference to the plot to assassinate Hitler that was hatched on 20 July 1944.
‘We have a precise agenda and we’re going to meet again and again until they break all the windows and drag us out,’ said Pinter.
Several commentators have pointed out that one of the reasons Thatcher was able to win so many political -battles is because she was blessed with particularly feeble enemies. They’re thinking of Arthur Scargill, General Galtieri and Michael Foot, but these literary giants deserve a mention. They claimed to be of the left and thought of themselves as heroic dissidents, but their objection to the Iron Lady, in essence, was that she threatened the cultural hegemony of Britain’s upper-middle-class elite by unleashing the forces of social mobility. This was obvious from the language that a member of this set, the opera director Jonathan Miller, used to describe her. According to Miller, Britain’s first woman prime minister was ‘loathsome, repulsive in almost every way’. He objected to her ‘odious suburban gentility and sentimental, saccharine patriotism catering to the worst elements of commuter idiocy’. In other words, he didn’t like her because she was a grammar school girl — a ‘Northern chemist’.
Such snobbery was unlikely to turn the mass of the British people against her, yet it was equally apparent in Paradise Postponed, John Mortimer’s 11-part jeremiad against Thatcherism, broadcast in 1986. The central character, the object of all Mortimer’s scorn, was Leslie Titmuss, a farm labourer’s son who becomes a right-wing Conservative MP. Mortimer’s snobbery was so undisguised that even the New York Times objected that the ‘lower orders’ were portrayed as either forelock–tugging peasants or ruthless Tories. The message was clear: Margaret Thatcher should never have attempted to jump the counter of her father’s shop.
Mortimer and others seemed to grasp that the 1945–79 consensus, with its uneasy truce between trade unionists on the one hand and the boss class on the other, depended upon every-one knowing their place. Whatever the shortcomings of the Tory old guard, at least they shared the metropolitan left’s disdain for ‘barrow boy’ City traders and ‘vulgar’ businessmen. Provided the English class system remained intact, the post-war settlement could be preserved.
One day, someone will write a comic novel about Thatcher’s Britain where the ‘satire’ isn’t confined to young men who work in advertising and drive Porsches. Perhaps I’ll do it myself.
You do that. But the BBC won't show it. The Spectator's Charles Moore on BBC bias:
[E]ven in death, the haughtiest elements of the establishment still want to put [Thatcher] down. While the Queen readily pays her the Churchillian tribute of attending her funeral, the BBC scours the country for people to condemn her. On Sunday morning, it lined up its regional stations and I gave interviews to about eight of them in sequence about Lady T. On Radio Nottingham, I had to listen first to an item about local reaction to her death. There were five speakers, all from a mining village, all attacking her. It wasn’t my job to comment on this — I was supposed to be talking about her religion — but since the BBC had offered no counter voice whatever, I pointed out on air that Nottinghamshire, stronghold of the working miners who refused to strike, had been persecuted by the violent pickets of Arthur Scargill. Mrs Thatcher was their ally, a fact effaced by the BBC’s photo-shop of history.
In my own region, BBC South-East, I took part in a television news programme about the Thatcher effect on the economy there. The main part of the package was about the devastation she had wrought by the closure of Betteshanger colliery in Kent. No mention of the coming of the M25 and the Channel Tunnel, or of the emergence of the region as one of the most prosperous in the entire world in the whole of human history! It really was ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ In the Sussex villages near where we live, there is huge respect and often affection for Mrs Thatcher. I am not speaking only of her political devotees, but of people fair-minded and perceptive enough to recognise patriotism and hard work. They are fascinated by the first woman who publicly achieved so much, her unique mixture of ordinariness and extraordinariness. Apart from an interesting item on the Today programme about Basildon, I have not heard or seen a single BBC programme all this week which contained the straightforward tributes of straightforward, unpolitical people; yet they are there, in their millions.