Thatcher's Death Opens Old Wounds

4/17/2013, 9 p.m.
Margaret Thatcher is dead and Marjorie Anne Buckley-Jones isn't sorry.
Courtesy Photo

Thatcher was honored by an elaborate ceremonial, military-themed funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday, April 17. The funeral cost about 10 million pounds.

Milloyd Deans, 51, the son of Jamaican parents, said he was attending university when Thatcher's machinations toppled Prime Minister Edward Heath as party leader and brought her to power.

"She won by default," he said. "She came from a working-class background but had a 'rich' mentality. She brought this country to its knees. There were strikes, shortages, no work. It was serious times. Those who had, held on to what they had because there was a queue (a line) for everything."

Yet Milloyd Deans admits that Thatcher's economic policies did benefit some people, especially those who had an entrepreneurial bent.

The Thatcher era is remembered for the rich with pockets full of cash, who flaunted their wealth and lived an existence of unapologetic conspicuous consumption. The problem was, that only a sliver of society had the opportunity to enjoy this bounty.

Nigel Beckles, 53, remembers those days.

"The large brick Motorola mobile phone was the ultimate status symbol and the counters of black wine bars and nightclubs would be lined with customers' cell phones while the Buppies socialized," he said.

Beckles, who has Barbadian roots, said he was an up-and-coming disc jockey on the black nightclub circuit playing at up to three to four nightclubs per week. He worked full time for a local government department so he earned good money.

"I had a mobile phone, which was rare during the '80s, and drove a nice car," he said.

But Beckles knew even as a 19-year-old, that the cards were stacked against black men.

"I considered myself a Buppy and life was good for me but even during my twenties, I always felt the country of my birth did not really want black people here," he said. "It was clear that we were widely considered to be second-class citizens."

On one hand were police officers who used the stop and search (SUS) law to constantly harass black youth for activities as banal as talking in a group, walking past a store or even waiting for a bus.

"While I was not politically aware, there were certain realities a young black man had to be aware of, such as being picked up by the police on trumped up "SUS" charges," Beckles explained. "The other risk was suffering a beating by racist National Front supporters. Racism was overt with National Front supporters roaming certain areas at night. Many young black men were attacked and stabbed on the streets or outside pubs or bars. And black and Asian families' homes were firebombed at night while the police remained largely indifferent to these horrendous crimes."

Milloyd Deans said he understands peoples' fury, calling it a domino effect.

"[The anger] didn't end when she ended, it rolled over," he said with a laugh. "She was a woman who set out to put herself on top. She had a heart and head of steel and the body of iron. Thatcher didn't lead from the back, she led from the front. She didn't care about the effect of her measures. She set out to do certain things and she embraced power and people of power."