Saturday, 4 July 2020

Motherwell Rings Hollow



When the Coronavirus lockdown started I decided to get some more reading in and one of the titles I chose was Motherwell by the former Guardian journalist Deborah Orr, a book growing up in the shadow of Ravenscraig.

I thought I was in for a treat, but sadly I couldn't have been more wrong because the book is a bitter affair which struck a discordant note for me again and again. 

The most telling example was the portrait of Deborah's  parents (John and Win) who were working class Tories and big supporters of Margaret Thatcher in both the 1979 and 1983 elections. 

In the book Deborah explains that if John were alive today he'd be regarded as 'alt-right' - see extract below.

"Things in Scotland were already grim. Even John and Win were concerned about the Thatcher government, although they'd voted her in for a second time. They'd been particularly irked by the legislation giving people the right to buy their council house. They felt that all the good places  like Clyde Terrace - would fall into private hands. Families in the position we were in in Shields Drive would be stuck with no choice except the worst of council accommodation."

"I remember perfectly the moment when I realised the john got into arguments about politics all the time because ehe was a Tory. And that my mum was a Tory too. Win was more liberal than dad. If the John who existed back then, was around today he'd be alt-right. He had that US-style belief in total independence, in fierce pride in your virtually nothing because it was ALL YOURS."

Now I was very active politically in the early 1980s and I remember well that Margaret Thatcher came to power (in 1979) on the back of her flagship 'Right to Buy' policy which gave council tenants the right to purchase their homes at a discount of up to 70%. 

Many people did, of course, including voters right across the political spectrum.

So I'm afraid I don't understand how anyone could say with a straight face that such committed Conservatives and great admirers of Margaret Thatcher were 'troubled' by one of her best known, most popular policies.