There is a lot to be said for being left wing/socialist/Marxist, it allows the mind to run free to conjure up thoughts of the unimaginable, such as common ownership, equality for all and even sometimes, a dream of what life could have been like had the Iron Lady never been elected. The year is 2012 and her legacy still lives on. For one Labour Party Councillor, it would appear the memories are as painful and gut-wrenching now as they were then.
Sunderland City Councillor Florence Anderson is, I am told, a left wing Socialist member of the Labour Party. Having been brought up in a working class background, she has remained fully committed to her roots.
Like many women in her local area, she was married to a miner. It is therefore unsurprising that when the former Prime Minister, now Baroness Thatcher, declared war on these miners, many proud family men fought back, as did their wives, as did entire communities. It is difficult to imagine how these people felt fighting back against an elected Government. However, it would have been worse to betray their own communities, beliefs and the togetherness that had been borne out of years of working in the dangerous, dark and dismal circumstances of the pits. The fight was not something into which they chose to go, it was forced upon them. Florence was one of the ‘miners’ wives'(a subject that would make a much better film than the ‘Iron Lady’) who supported their husbands in a fight for jobs and wages.
Thatcher immediately brought in an oppressive army of police to crush the strike. Plucked from the picket line, Florence was arrested, assaulted by the oppressive forces of the police, and thrown into a ‘Black Maria’.
Why did Thatcher beat her own people, the working class, into a situation where they were expected to survive on low pay, something she had an understanding of, being from a working class background in Grantham. Thatcher betrayed Florence, she trampled on this country and left it for dead.
Fast-forward to a bright morning in 2010: Cllr Anderson clicked ‘Like’ on a Facebook post which demonised Thatcher in a satirical manner, poking fun at how the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had narrowly missed killing her at the Conservative Party conference in October 1984. Many would consider making fun out of a situation where people had died, left others permanently disabled and many more traumatised for life as distasteful and possibly even warped. However, the view that it was a malicious and vindictive bombing for unethical reasons such as money or land is nonsense. The bombing was a consequence of the IRA’s view that they were at war with the British Government.
The Labour Party have set themselves up to fail in the sense that they appear to be falling over themselves to suspend a member of their party who has been banging the red drum for over forty years. Florence, is a woman of true community grit and a person of moral values who champions social justice. She cannot even recall the incident, has always opposed war, and mourns all victims of military conflict.
The history of the Conservative Party could have probably been allowed to rest with sleeping dogs, had it been acknowledged from within that Thatcher made a mistake. Taking a look at the history of the conflict gives people a much better perspective of the issues. In the early 20th century, a Conservative/ Liberal Coalition Government sent in the ‘Black and Tans’ to beat and terrorise the people of Ireland, a Conservative Government held people without charge in prison camps, boats and buildings for fighting to rid their country of occupying forces, and considering the tragic events of Bloody Sunday, is it any wonder individuals on the left express solidarity and prayers for the people of Ireland? Could any of that be allowed to rest whilst David Cameron and his cronies continue to twist the knife into the gut of the hard working people of this country? How much can one person witness, learn about and experience before that individual says “enough is enough”? Cllr Anderson appears to have said that, and thank God she did, as surely now, enough is more than enough.
For the Labour Party, a party I love and aspire to play a role in, to turn its own back on such an important, albeit small part of the membership is shameful. The Labour Party would have been right to dismiss the indignation felt by some as a ‘storm in a teacup’ , or even used the opportunity to reflect on why so many people still feel a deep seated anger towards Margaret Thatcher.
The Labour Party must urgently re-consider their decision to suspend Cllr Anderson as doing so plays into the hands of the right wing. Not only is it telling them that people are wrong to express disgust against Thatcher, it is also giving them free rein to squash freedom of speech.
Florence was merely expressing her depth of feeling for the victims of the Conservative Party and showing that many Labour supporters still feel very strongly about the manner in which the working class has been crushed into the ground.
We have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression- Florence has stepped forward and attacked the political right and this is what separates rousing stalwarts of the community from the injustices perpetrated by Thatcher.
Many, including rank and file Labour Party members, believe that Florence Anderson’s suspension is grossly unfair. There is a Facebook group dedicated to supporting her and calling for her reinstatement as a Labour party councillor – CLICK LIKE TO SUPPORT FLORENCE ANDERSONTags: Domestic (UK)
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This post was written by Patrick Cawkwell