Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: My Part in Her Downfall

CPSA & NUCPS Strikers Outside EOC HQ Sept 1989

With the tremendous news of the departure of Thatcher I am reminded of my own part in her demise as Prime Minister - or at least, this is the story I've been peddling for decades.

Prior to heading off to Ruskin in 1989 via a TUC scholarship I was a CPSA activists occupying various branch roles in what was then the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in its head office in Manchester.

Then, as now, the Tories took the opportunity of being in office to hammer those statutory agencies which in any way addressed the inequities of capitalist society. So, under various Home Secretaries from 1979 the EOC suffered yearly cuts in funding and influence. In addition, the Commission was one of those organisations which was treated as a pilot under Thatcher's infamous Next Steps initiative to commence the path to outsourcing, privatisation etc.

Quite rightly the EOC decided that enough was enough and by 1988 we decided that a strike was on the cards. And, in an early crowning achievement as the EOC Branch Secretary I worked with the Branch Chair (Mark Dodman - to my left in the picture above) to steward and organise a joint strike with the more moderate members of what was then NUCPS.

The picture above was taken in September 1989 and shows the vast bulk of staff out on a day's industrial action, supported by colleagues in regional offices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The strike was a succes in as much as it united staff and brought a sense of solidarity - even if not the extra cash we were after.

A month later and I was starting my Diploma in Labour Studies at Ruskin and, with this news this leaked to Downing Street, Thatcher starts to crumble and at this point the likes of Heseltine et al commence the slow, steady process which witnesses her tearful exit from No. 10 in November 1990.

So, farewell Thatcher, you are as despised as you are venerated and I, like many hundreds of thousands of young men and women in the 1980s, remember starkly an era of hopelessness and despair. Thankfully I was able to pursue a route out of this vacuum via the labour movement - and remain thankful for tis- but for far too many others this was not the case. For the gross negligence of the misery your wrought I am one amongst many who are glad to see the back of you.

In Solidarity


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