Though I think British comedian Russell Brand is irritating most of the time, he’s shown an ability to write a nuanced and unique obituary. His earlier meditation on Amy Winehouse, where he used his troubled past to discuss the tragedy of addiction, has been followed up by a column that looked at Thatcher as a matriarch. Brand’s childhood coincided with Thatcher’s eleven years in power, so her philosophy of individualism rather than community became tied in with how that generation grew up.
The column features some substantial attacks on Thatcher’s record- not only her privatization and union-busting, but her indifference to apartheid South Africa and autocrats like Pinochet. However it also brings up the topic of celebrating someone’s death. The Iron Lady’s demise has been met with spontaneous celebration- particularly in Scotland where her reforms hit hardest.
But can you really celebrate the death of someone if they died old and feeble and pathetic, rather than the strong-arm prime minister who left office over twenty years ago? There was a time, perhaps, to celebrate and let loose. That was when she left Downing Street. Much like confronting a childhood bully, if they’re on dialysis and can’t defend themselves, is it really satisfying to beat them up?