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Issue #1707      October 21, 2015

Editorial

Shades of an aspirational fascist

The political shades of the federal government have made themselves clearer; ironically they are standing out in sharper relief now that the snarling, attack dog approach taken by Tony Abbott has been replaced by the mealy mouthed style of Malcolm Turnbull. From former Attorney General George Brandis (“I want the right to be a bigot”) to the abuse of children, women and men in offshore detention centres (most recently a pregnant rape victim returned to Nauru) to Queensland Liberal MP George Christenson speaking at rallies organised by fascist group Reclaim Australia.

Now there is newly appointed Employment Minister Michaelia Cash trumpeting her anti-union credentials and extolling the virtues of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “They are militants,” she is quoted in the Australian newspaper (October 1) in reference to the CFMEU. “They don’t play by the rules and they should be held accountable.”

She praised Thatcher as someone who “found her way in a man’s world”. In a speech to her former high school in 2011 Cash gave forth: “She was a great stateswoman and an icon of our times.”

So a reminder is in order as to just who and what Margaret Thatcher was. Thatcher’s funeral took place in London with full military honours in 2013. Not since Sir Winston Churchill had the British state bestowed such an honour on a deceased prime minister.

The forced mourning and the military trappings were an ideological, propaganda stunt by the British state in the face of public opposition to the stately honouring of Thatcher. The occasion – paid for by the austerity-clobbered British taxpayer – was also seen as an indulgence in British jingoism and imperialism.

As in life, so too in death, Margaret Thatcher continued to incite controversy and public outrage. Britain’s only female premier, she was elected three consecutive times between 1979-1990 before she was ousted from Downing Street by her own rat-like Conservative Party to appease growing public anger over her destructive policies.

Despite successive elections, her victories in the polls never commanded an outright majority among the British electorate, and her success was more to do with political weakness among Britain’s other main parties, Labour and the Liberals. Even members among her own party referred to her rule as “elected dictatorships.”

More than 20 years after her ouster, millions of Britons detested her memory for the mass unemployment and poverty that she inflicted with her apocryphal ideology of unfettered capitalism. Millions, too, detested her militarism, which cynically used war over the remote British colonial possession in the South Atlantic – Las Malvinas Islands – as a re-election stunt. Her covert war in Ireland in which she sanctioned the use of death squads and shoot-to-kill policing to terrorise Irish citizens also remains a source of ignominy.

The South Atlantic connection is rather appropriate. During Thatcher’s war with Argentina over Las Malvinas, also known as the Falklands, Britain received crucial military assistance from Chile’s fascist dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet’s regime afforded Britain surveillance and territorial cover to defeat neighbouring Argentine sea and air forces.

Thatcher remained life-long friends with the Chilean dictator and ensured that his junta received British military contracts despite its appalling human rights record. (Pinochet came to power in a bloody US-backed coup against the elected Salvadore Allende government in 1973.)

When Pinochet died in 2006, he was facing hundreds of indictments for human rights violations, murder and embezzlement of millions of dollars. During his 17-year reign of terror more than 3,000 Chileans were murdered, thousands were disappeared, 30,000 were imprisoned and tortured, and some 200,000 political opponents were forced into exile. 1Fittingly, among the hundreds of foreign dignitaries at Thatcher’s funeral was FW de Klerk, the last white leader of the apartheid South African state. Thatcher was an ardent supporter of the racist regime that for decades brutally suppressed democratic majority black rule. In her support, Thatcher defied international sanctions imposed on the regime and she denounced Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist.”

Like her close friend Augusto Pinochet, Thatcher’s bodily remains were cremated. Pinochet’s family said that procedure was taken in 2006 to avoid vandalism of his burial site – such was the hatred of the fascist dictator. To paraphrase Thatcher's own summation of herself, the lady was not for turning, but the lady was for burning.

Cash’s role model was an aspirational fascist.

Next article – MUA-CFMEU merger considered

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