Ten Years on – An Astonishing Thought 30

When the nation basked in new hope as the Conservatives were defeated on 1 May 1997, I never thought I would say this.

Given the choice between dancing on Margaret Thatcher’s grave and dancing on Tony Blair’s, and not allowed to do both, I would dance on Blair’s.

Which would you do?

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30 thoughts on “Ten Years on – An Astonishing Thought

  • Roger Whittaker

    You're right. There's no contest, unfortunately.

    It's extraordinary (and terrifying) to look back at how the world looked 10 years ago and compare it to the state we're in now.

  • NoJags Neil

    I have pondered this one in the past. Thatcher had more of a negative effect on me personally, with her mismanagement of the economy and the trashing of British industry. As a result of her policies my chosen career path came to nought and I was made redundant twice; I ended-up giving up on a career and settled for a job. She was never a war criminal, though, despite all the fuss over the sinking of the Belgrano, which in the cold light of day turns out to have been a legitimate, albeit unfortunate, military decision. So yes, as a result of the premature deaths of over half a million and rising, it has to be Blair.

  • rcx141

    There's no comparison. Whether you liked her or not, Thatcher was a true world-class statesman; one who believed in right and wrong, and said what she meant. It was her misfortune to be surrounded – with a few honourable exceptions – by tenth rate backstabbing creeps.

    Generally the UK does not like competent leadership; deals get done in the background while a nitwit like Neville Chamberlain, James Callaghan or John Major blunders about for the press.

    Of course when there is a real crisis, a proper leader is needed to sort it out (two examples in the last century). Then it's back to "business as usual".

    Blair is a perfect fit for the largely symbolic role of UK Prime minister. With most decisions affecting Britain now taken by anonymous pen pushers in Brussels and Strasbourg, what else is left apart from mugging for the cameras and vanity war projects? He just enjoys what little power he has to reward his friends with non-jobs and hang out with the US president (who probably has to be reminded who he is!)

  • The Antagonist

    Nice post, Craig! This is the sort of thing the British public should be talking about!

    Personally, I'd dance with one foot on each of their miserable graves.

    Seeing as you've opted for dancing on Blair's grave and that it would be unfair to leave the old bitch — sorry, Baroness Thatcher — out of the fun and frolics, perhaps you might like to attend the Class War Party in Trafalgar Square at 6pm on the first Saturday after the troll strolls on.

    Further details here:

    Can't be long now!

  • NightWatch

    I would be interested to know: Who had an opportunity to become a war criminal and then didn't take it. To me, that is one way to better weigh the value of one over the other.

  • writeon

    Dear, dear, Craig; what have you let out of the bag? I think you're playing with fire here and dancing on thin ice! You do, of course realize that you are talking about the possible demise of not one, but two iconic politicians? Is this a secret code directed at a sleeper-cell which activates them? Are your words meant to encourage people to actually look forward to their passing on? One could interpet this as close to incitement to accelerate the ageing process relating to the named individuals.

    But in the spirit of your post and sticking my neck out even further than yours and because I've been imbibing… I think it's perfectly reasonable to contemplate a future where it'll be possible to dance on both of them at the same time. I'll be there with you, along with a fine, old bottle of wine I'm keeping especially for the purpose. Though I suspect it'll be a little crowded around there.

    I propose burying them top of one another in the same plot of unholy ground, preferably a lime pit, and after they've been staked through the heart, as a precautionary measure, one can't be too careful with their kind. Burying them in a single plot would save space, time, expense and the environment.

    I am concerned though that the gravesite might become a kind of shrine for their followers and a possible cause of conflict. Certain individuals might even attempt to salvage relics from the site for use in quasi-religious ceremonies to "conjure" their spirits forth once more from beyond the grave. The thought that a weird cult could develope around the "witch" and the "warlock" is disturbing, and a risk, I, for one, would be loathe to run. As a sensible precaution I would propose burning the bodies and scattering the ashes on the waters of the Thames. Alternatively, one could seal the remains in lead and concrete and bury them at sea at the centre of the Bermuda Triangle.

    As you can see I am at a loss to choose between them. Which is worse; cholera or the plague? Which eye would you rather loose; the left or the right? I honestly can't tell the difference between them. Which of them was the most destructive? Which was the most warlike? Which had the most contempt for the Labour Party? Which of them was the most dictatorial? Which of them caused the most suffering and despair? Which of them was the bigger demagogue? Whose "legacy" will live longest? So many questions. I give up. We'll have to leave it up to posterity to decide, or we could save time and just flip a coin?

  • Randal

    Personally I never wanted to dance on Maggie's grave anyway. She was far and away the best Prime Minister Britain's had in the last few decades, and her policies were the closest we were ever going to get to what this country needed in the late 1970s and 1980s.

    That said, she was still a professional politician and therefore inherently suspect. We do, after all, labour under a system of governance that actively selects for the best liars to put into power over us. (And in the current incumbent, the system really has excelled itself.)

    Anyway, I'll happily take my turns on Blair's grave with you and all the others, Craig.

  • Justice_For_All

    Dear Craig

    Hope you are in fine spirits.

    These two overglorified satraps are just serfs for a much wider agenda controlled from a "higher office" to further tyranny, war mongering, suffering of the people in their own land and places afar…neither deserve the grace of decent men and women even urinating on their graves let alone dancing on them. However if one had to make a choice, then a full "moshing" on Blair's grave would be have to be the first choice.

    Where Thatcher left off, Blair picked up the baton with full sleazy and hypocritical gusto that this baffoon has the effrontery to be so open and arrogant about it (WMD lies, Cash for honours and the rest)…

    Though instead of burial both of them need the send off the French gave Jean D'Arc…a more fitting recompense. Perhaps then Cherie could use Blair's ashes is some bizzarre ritual…

  • kazbel

    I'm not much given to dancing on graves. I have better things to do with my life and I think neither deserves such a degree of attention. However, I did celebrate when Mrs Thatcher resigned and again when the tories lost the 1997 election. When Blair resigns and when/if Labour lose the election, I don't think I'll be celebrating. The disaster Blair and his party have visited on us and the world is so great that the most I shall experience is mild relief. I shan't expect the world to recover from his regime within my lifetime.

    "solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant" Tacitus, Agrippa 30 – attributed to Calgacus (= they make a desolation and they call it peace)

    and in case anyone wants a little more of the context, "Raptores orbis, postquam cuncta vastantibus defuere terrae, mare scrutantur: si locuples hostis est, avari, si pauper, ambitiosi, quos non Oriens, non Occidens satiaverit: soli omnium opes atque inopiam pari adfectu concupiscunt. Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."

  • Nas

    I would dance on Blair's grave too. Thatcher did Tory things as she was Tory; Blair did more than Tory things after deceiving us to vote for him as a Labour which he certainly is not. What really gets me is why most of the Labour MP's have followed Blair's extreme Tory line.


  • Strategist

    Blair. To start a war of aggression is the paramount war crime. (Just another 138 or so dead in Baghdad yesterday…) For all her genuine crimes against the British and others, Thatcher does not have that on her conscience.

    How many people in today's sorry Labour party would have the decency and humanity to admit that fact? By leaving Blair in power so long and doing absolutely nothing effective to challenge & get rid of him (even if they did claim to be against the war), pretty much everyone in the Labour party is tarred with the brush of paramount war crime. Blair has destroyed the Labour Party and we won't sort out British politics till we're dancing on the grave of New Labour: Brown, Straw, (Hilary) Benn, Dickhead Hain, the execrable Hazel Blears, the pathetic compliant & compromised Labour membership, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.

  • Craig

    So far that's seven dancing with me on Tony, and a few on the fence. Remember, dancing on both is not an option.

    Of course they could always bury Tony on Parliament Square so dancing on him would become an illegal demonstration. We would need to send in Mark Thomas with a grave dancing application.

  • ChoamNomsky

    I think my grave dancing criterion would have to be based on some kind of death count. Who killed the most people by supporting dictators, supplying arms etc?

    In the Red Corner..Tony Blair

    Supplying Arms to Suharto – Deaths ??

    Illegal Invasion of Iraq – Deaths 650,000

    In the Blue Corner – Margaret Thatcher

    Supplying Arms to Suharto – Deaths 100,000 (ish)

    Supporting and encouraging Saddam Hussein throughout the 80s in his pointless war against Iran – Deaths 1000,000

    So Thatcher wins on Deaths, mostly due to support for Iraq in its war on Iran. She was smart enough to stick to the standard practice of supporting carnage from a safe distance. Blair was stupid enough to get blood on his hands in a direct invasion.

  • rcx141

    Craig, you make a good point about "illegal demonstrations". Everywhere Thatcher went, there were large crowds of extremely vocal demonstrators who made a thoroughly obnoxious nuisance of themselves, to little purpose. But that was their right.

    She handled that with dignity and grace, as she did when the IRA tried to blow her up in Brighton.

    Compare that to Blair. He passes a law specifically to get rid of a solitary protester against his stupid, pointless war.

    The more tin-pot the dictator, the thinner the skin, it seems!

  • johnf

    The Iron Poodle or The Touchy Feely Poodle? What a choice. I think I agree with you. Reagan would never have allowed Thatcher to be as outrageous as Blair.

  • writeon

    Just a little attempt a alternative history.

    Many journalists are impressed by Blair's rhetorical flair and facility with words. They fail to examine beyond the surface and look at substance of what he's saying at that particular moment in time. What characterizes Blair is his belief in his own charm and abilities. He really fancies himself and has to almost physically restrain himself from preening like a peacock, this is probably connected to his rockstar pretentions.

    He has always said how much he admires Thactcher. Recently he remarked on her courage in sending a taskforce to the Falklands. As we all know, this victory laid the foundation for her subsequent electoral success, legend and legacy. I believe Blair thought that the invasion of Iraq would become his Falklands moment, after all success was not in question, Iraq was a country on its knees, led by an unpopular dictator and it had been disarmed. Invading Iraq seemed like a no-brainer, what could possibly go wrong? For Blair, war was a short-cut to immortality.

    But even I, who despise both of them, have to admit that Thatcher was a better politician and leader than Blair. Simply because she won her wars and he did not. Whilst Thatcher is seen as a "success", Blair's legacy is one of failure. His name will forever be associated with the crime and debacle that is Iraq. Even a man with his inflated ego is troubled by this irritating fact, it's a small compensation I know, but probably the most we can hope for. Once in while a twinge of irritation will cross his mind.

    Thacther was also more intelligent than Blair. Whilst both of them loved the Big Picture, all Blair got was the Big Picture, whilst Thatcher understood detail far better than Blair; and as we know, the Devil…

    All that boring, time consuming detail, can be left to dour, old, Gordon, who actually seems to get off on all that stuff, guys.

    But what has characterized both of them is, shockingly, their destructiveness. Who would have imagined ten years ago just how destructive Blair was? I certainly didn't. Although I never trusted him, surprisingly, precisely because of his greatest asset, his way with words. After Thatcher, who also impressed when she was in full-flow mode, I was sceptical of Blair from the very first time I heard him speaking on the radio, but I did give him the benefit of the doubt for a long time. I mean, how bad could things get? After all he was only one man. But I think we sunstantially underestimated his ruthlessness, love of power for its own sake and just how dangerous a prime minister with a massive majority, a docile party and a weak opposition, can be.

    Much of this is a result of the British electoral system, which seen from a european perspective is bizarre and blatantly undemocratic. Most people around the world still think that Thatcher and Blair received massive electoral support from a majority of voters because of their huge parliamentary majorities. They assume, wrongly, that loads of seats mean loads of votes! When one explains that the British system doesn't quite work like that and isn't even close to being proportional, like europe, and that Thatcher's "landslide" victory and Blair's "landslide" victory, was actually based on a minority of votes they look ahgast and then say, but that's not democratic! One can argue about the merits of proportional representation compared to the British system of first past the post till the cows come home, or is it till the chickens come home to roost? But "fair" it isn't, at least not to most of the europeans I've discussed it with.

    So for decades in Britain we've been ruled by leaders and parties who haven't really got that much electoral support, yet they have huge majorities, massive, almost unbridled power to force through unpopular "sectarian" policies, and they are led by strong leaders prepared to act as if they had overwhelming popular support when clearly they do not.

    This isn't just an academic discussion. In practice this had led to Britain being ruled by extremist minorities for the last thirty years. There unpopular ideas have not only affected Britain, they've spread abroad and influenced the wider world too. "Thatcherism" influenced the Right in the United States profoundly, with tragic consequences. On a very fundamental level the "Triumph of Thatcherism" was based on a Big Lie, the lie was that she, her party and their ideas were massively supported by the British people.

    So, before you all fall asleep, and while we're thinking about burying things, let's bury the British electoral system too. It's way past it's sell-by date!

  • Craig


    Undoubtedly true. From memory New Labour got about 37% of the votes cast at the last election. It is ludicrous that can get you total power. Thatcher's elections were generally around 42%, I think.

  • CGB

    You and Elvis Costello?

    When England was the whore of the world

    Margaret was her madam

    And the future looked as bright and as clear as

    the black tarmacadam

    Well I hope that she sleeps well at night, isn't

    haunted by every tiny detail

    'Cos when she held that lovely face in her hands

    all she thought of was betrayal

  • Craig

    I am very fond of Oliver's Army, which seems to have an anti-war message. Actually my favourite Costello song is Girls Talk, but I can't be profound all the time.

  • Craig

    Anyway CGB, what is your grave dancing preference, Thatcher or Blair? But suggestions of what music to dance to could be fun, too.

  • NoJags Neil

    Well, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" from Wizard of Oz is a bit of a no-brainer for Thatcher. But I think "Things Can Only Get Better" would highlight everybody's astonishment that things could be this bleak ten years on from 1997.

  • NoJags Neil

    BTW, while I'm on… reading back my post yesterday, I can see that people would assume Thatcher wrecked my career because I was in steel or heavy industry. Actually far from it: my degree was in Physics with Solid State Electronics, and I specialised in III-V semiconductors. I was supposed to have been on the leading edge of one of the new "sunrise industries". What became of them? They're all in Korea and China now.

  • Manic

    I have taken a solemn vow to one day piss on Tony Blair's grave. I advise anyone who plans to do any dancing on it to first check with my schedule, purely for H&S reasons.

  • writeon

    Yes, Craig, dancing, wine and music. That's more like it. I'm tempted to move towards wine, women and song, as well! Roll on the happy day! It's probably a sign of our collective desparation that we find such pleasure in such thrilling trifles.

    We'll all have to vow to meet on one of the graves, armed with my vintage wine, fresh bread, cheese – and your whisky for desert. We'll need music of course. I'll lug my beatbox, if it kills me, and sneak out of the old-people's home at the dead of night.

    I'm aware it's against the rules, but I fear we may have to dance on the "witches" grave first, while we still can, and have the strength to dance, without keeling over. If we wait until the "warlock" goes to his maker, we may all be rockin' and rollin' in Roolators by then.

    Cheers and have a nice weekend!

  • NightWatch

    Bonfires are nice when dancing on graves. A nice tinder would be worthless peerages. So now we have food, booze, and a bonfire. Perhaps someone should issue an invitation to the objects of Blair's attentions…the indigenous peoples of all the far away lands.

  • kazbel

    Come to think of it, could we do the dancing etc. while Blair is still alive. It would be much more worthwhile if there was a chance of annoying him. Perhaps we could persuade him to commission his tomb before his death, like one of those Renaissance princes, bishops, lords, ladies, etc. I'd like to be quite sure that he knew what people thought – though someone who can ignore a march by a couple of million people is pretty good at ignoring what people think.

    Do you think anyone could persuade him of the benefits of a tomb in Parliament Square, where we could have mass lone tomb-dancing protests?

    And is any particular style of dancing preferred? – jig? wardance? even the Carmagnole?

  • gerardmulholland

    Thatcher and Bliar are both mass murderers.

    My wifr, who died of a gas gangrene contracted from unsterilised bandages in an NHS Hospital in 1981, was one of Thatcher's victims.

    But Bliar has managed to kill more people than Thatcher.

    So I'd love to find Bliar and Thatcher buried next to each other so that I could take turns dancing first on one and then the other and all the while pissing on both of them.

    I wish there were a Hell.

    It would be so pleasurable to think of the two of them shrieking, hollering and stenching for all eternity in its deepest pit.

  • Drumcondra

    If you bury them close enough together, could I dance on Tony's grave whilst p*ss*ng on Thatcher's?

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