Thatcher’s Scotland?

When the news broke on Monday about Margaret Thatcher’s death I knew the focus of this weeks roundup was pre-determined. Like many others I chose to avoid Twitter, feeling at risk of reading things I would rather not. Her death has polarised our  society yet again and we do ourselves a disservice by over simplifying the messages from the past. Scotland’s bloggers have brought a thoughtful range of opinions.

Ellen Arnison expressed her concern about any kind of celebration associated to someone’s death and shared from twitter the amazingly accurate predictions of the range of reactions. Kate Higgins on the other hand challenged those who claimed that Mrs Thatcher as the first female prime minister was good for women, where is the evidence for that she asked us.

Raymond  Weir shared Ellen’s distaste in the behaviour in response to the news, including the efforts to get THAT song to number one. Recognising the polarised beliefs hid an uncomfortable truth:

“And it’s not just that she won; it’s that in her winning, she changed the rules of the game. ”

Mike Small in BellaCaledonia in a piece called “the patriot prime minister” challenged the many who have lined up to praise her and her impact in the UK saying the  “apologists for the society she created can keep lining up to explain and revise her legacy, but few of us who lived through it will be convinced.”

Gerry Hassan asked that we recognised the myths around Thatchers legacy from both the right and left. He challenges Scotland’s “false memory syndrome” and reminds us we can choose what the legacy of those earlier times is for our country now:

“Margaret Thatcher may have inadvertently contributed to the self-governing Scotland of today, but the time has come for us to stop playing games with shadows, hunting for the pantomime villain to blame all our woes on, and get on with creating a better, fairer nation.
These few days should be a time for reflection and release. We don’t have to be Thatcher’s Scotland if we don’t want to be.”

In Think Scotland Euan McColm shares with us the tale of his grandfather who was a late convert to conservatism because of Thatcher. At retirement when he saw need around him he set up a cafe in the basement of a high rise flat for isolated older people, using the profit to take them on trips. A wonderful story of compassion and social entrepreneurship. In Euan’s  words:

“My grandparents and those who worked alongside them knew that Thatcher was – literally – correct: society is not a thing to which we turn. It’s a thing we are.”

Leaving politics for a moment I have also been reading about health and healthcare ( as I do!).  The Silver Linings Pixlet has blogged about returning to work after illness, always a difficult time but as she explains having mental health problems feels an even greater challenge. However as a blogger she feels a responsibility for the many others who too will have a mental health problem. She shares her own learning :

“I’ll continue to beat myself up over it, but I’m learning not to be ashamed. And that’s as much a start as any.” She does many a service through her honesty.

I was pleased to see the new AHP blog aiming to share the experiences of allied health professionals. Social media can support the change of culture we need to see in health and social care so great to welcome them to the blogosphere. The Ayrshire blog too about health attracts many interesting guest bloggers. This weeks blog discusses the power of an unusual integrated approach to improving health care: integrating ethics, aesthetics as well as science.

In my own blog I remembered a book I read as a student nurse by Ivan Illich, called “Limits to medicine” about iatrogenic disease.  A challenging read in all respects when it came out 30 years ago, but it’s current resonance leads me to ask, who should we be listening to now to avoid us waiting another 30 years to learn the lessons of today?

And finally as someone who grew up in mining community in Fife, my father working in that industry most of his life. I of course have not been immune to this week’s events however chose not to blog on the subject,  others have said it all. But I did recall my reaction to the film Brassed Off which I watched just a few short years after my father’s death. The speech at the end left me sobbing, recognising well  the truth it illustrated for those fragile communities, damaged not only by the government but by a union leader who also had an ideology to prove and a society who stood by and accepted it.  I leave you with the wonderful Pete Postlethwaite.

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