(Text of a letter sent to Glenda Jackson, MP, following her speech in the House of Commons)
thought twice about writing to you, not because I doubted that it was a good
thing to do, but simply because I was sure that you and your staff would be
drowning under a considerable number of similar missives. Nevertheless, I
wanted to congratulate and, equally to the point, to thank you for your speech
in the House of Commons debate on Margaret Thatcher. Not quite singlehandedly,
but not so far off, you transformed a dubious state-sponsored eulogy into
something a little more akin to a debate and, needless to say, found yourself
heavily criticised for having done so. Although there will doubtless be no need
for such reassurance by this stage, I can certainly say that you gave voice to
a significant proportion of the population, both in and beyond London, a group
which, in the face of relentless hagiography and stifling of our ability to
speak, has found itself almost voiceless, at least in any official context.
What I thought most admirable was the combination of a reminder of just how
desperate our social plight had become during the last years of Conservative
government and your concentration not upon personality but upon ideology and
policy. A personal attack would have been unnecessary, or at least not the priority.
(Thoughts of General Pinochet might tempt me to say otherwise, but let us leave
him on one side for the moment.) However, to attack the catastrophic
consequences of policies pursued and, in many cases, intensified during
succeeding governments was absolutely necessary, especially in the context of
the present government’s seeming intent to exceed the wildest of Margaret
Thatcher’s expectations and dreams.
is probably the last thing you would want to hear, but I cannot help but wonder
whether you might be persuaded to consider standing as a future candidate
London’s mayoralty. Someone needs to say these things, to repeat them, and to
continue to do so in public political life; we shall certainly not hear them
from the present Mayor of London with his insidious cocktail of infantilising
demagoguery and extreme neo-liberal ideology.