The Past Is an Occupied Country

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I don’t recall the Miners’ Strike; I was busy in the womb for most of it. So it’s a strange experience when I see people a decade younger than I commenting on Margaret Thatcher’s passing with as much vigour as if they’d been on the picket lines.

I’m too young to remember Thatcherism; I’m young enough to remember, as an adolescent, frustratedly trying to follow political articles in the broadsheets which assumed that every reader had lived through the era in a state of political awareness and had formed passionate opinions accordingly. Time, and mindsets, march on: there’s now a large section of the adult population with no political recollection of the Eighties, or no recollection of the period at all. Presently it’s the Blair premiership that’s entering that peculiar state of being vividly recent for most of the political nation, but an effectively historical era for its youngest members.

One thing I certainly learnt, as a teenager grappling with those articles, is that the dictum that history is written through the lens of the present rings especially true of an aspect of the recent past about which an awful lot of axes continue to be ground. I’m not bothering to scan much of the commentary on Lady Thatcher’s death, because I expect a great deal of it to amount to thinly disguised opinion pieces on David Cameron. Perhaps that’s why there are people rather younger than myself who feel that the matter has been adequately explained to them.

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