Chris Reed
Apr 10, 2013

What did the Thatcher brand mean to Asia?

It’s truly a fascinating experience living in Singapore and seeing the world’s reaction to the joyful, sorry, very sad death of the wicked witch, sorry Margaret Thatcher.

What did the Thatcher brand mean to Asia?

As you can probably tell I am no hypocrite and will happily speak ill of the dead that I had no kind words for in life. If you can’t be true to yourself how can you be true to others? Death makes no difference to how you should feel about someone or something (not implying Thatcher was something but she was often call inhuman.....).

I digress but this is one of the curious things about the Thatcher brand. The full range of passions and views that it provokes in the UK, US, Europe and Asia. As I lived with her evil machinations in the great city of Newcastle Upon Tyne for all her years in office I saw the full brunt of her brutal politics and how they crippled families, industries, the Irish, the north, gays and the working man but only when they were “not one of us” as she saw it.

In the UK they appear to be having two completely divergent views. Hatred or love. Nothing imbetween. Cheers in bars, cafes and the workplace is some areas and outrage at this hostility in others.

I do love the irony of celebrating her death with riots in Brixton and Belfast that ironically she caused decades earlier in the same places when she was alive. The Thatcher supporting Daily Telegraph newspaper has had to close its email and website to views on her such was the vitriol pouring out of people about her. Judy Garland's song "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead" is surging up the UK singles charts in celebration.

Twitter is having a field day. Lots of debate and lots of jokes as you can see:

In China’s equivalent of Twitter Weibo Thatcher’s death is trending top as it is on China’s Google equivalent Baidu and apparently it’s more positive than negative in the reaction and comments. Ignorance is bliss.

In the US her brand has always had some kind of weird halo effect as if the Americans were so devoid of any idea of how to treat working people….but they were led by the vacant Ronald Reagan at the time. It’s amazing that American’s are so passionate about her brand when the very same things that they loved about her were the same as those that the UK reviled about her.

I don’t think the perception of Americans in the UK has ever recovered from this weird love of the Thatcher brand.

In Singapore and Asia the views appear to be mixed. In Australia the foreign minister called her racist and Aussies appear split 50/50. In Singapore the reaction appears to be muted with the usual political inferences of reverence as they dealt with her. She had not great effect in Singapore but she would have approved of many of the government policies.

The selling of the council houses in the UK which she is infamous for came from the way that Singapore did it. However she missed the point of the Singapore social program which was to house the poor, give them responsibility for their homes and ensure everyone had a roof over their head. And to keep building them – 90% of Singaporeans live in these homes. Thatcher skewed this policy by not building any more council homes and told the poor to go to hell.

I liked the Taiwanese twist on events. They started by showing pictures of the Queen when announcing her death and then moved onto pictures of Meryl Streep who played the “iron lady” in the Oscar winning film.

Fact/fiction…they all mould into one when it comes to the Thatcher brand. No one’s views will be changed now. She has divided the UK and the world in death as she did in life.

 

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