Recently there has been an upturn of interest in a proposed fifteen million pound museum honouring Margaret Thatcher. The museum, which David Cameron himself gave backing to two years ago (when it first hit the news), has garnered recent interest via a petition against its construction; compiled by the political-activism organisation 38 Degrees.
In my view it is clear that a Thatcher-based museum is a terrible idea. Even privately-funded (as is planned), it is a vast amount of money to be spent memorialising a woman who will eternally polarise opinion – ‘polarise’ being a mega understatement. She’s like supercharged marmite: it’s not really a case of love or hate; you either view her as a modern-day heroine who rescued Britain from the murky depths of ruin, or as the Devil incarnate and the source of all evil in the world.
She has influenced Britain in so many ways, yes, and a person so intrinsic to contemporary British history is not one who should be ignored. However, we live in a time when many people are feeling the crush of what they consider to be austerity. The planned museum would, consequently, leave much of the nation reeling. There are more fruitful ways of spending 15 million quid than on a tribute to someone who is despised in so many corners. To build the museum would be a huge disrespect to many Britons.
The biggest crime here is that money is simultaneously being siphoned away from other UK museums and art galleries, in line with government spending cuts. Squeezing British culture in this way, whilst promoting a Thatcher museum, makes the latter project look like no more than a £15 million exercise in Conservative propaganda and narcissism. It reflects poorly. Really, really poorly. What are Cameron and his associates trying to achieve?
The British political past is a complex, interwoven tapestry. This island has a rich and powerful history of liberalism, trade unionism and working-class culture, which deserves to be remembered as much as anything else. Was Atlee Conservative? Was Bevan? Was David-Lloyd George right-wing? William Gladstone? Gordon Brown? Tony Bla.. hang on.
But Thatcher-haters: rest easy (hear me out). Cameron is the ultimate PR-man. He is slicker than an eel in Vaseline (and only a little less slimy). Building a £15 million museum devoted to Thatcher, whether privately funded or not, would be a display of gross-self indulgence even more wince-inducing than Ed Milibands’ Moses-style ‘stone tablet’ – a giant, £30,000 slab engraved with the Labour Party’s pledges for a “Better Future” (last seen May 2015). There is absolutely no chance of Mr. Cameron, our weasel-like, smoothly-operating PM, falling into the same comical public relations trap. Mind you, he did endorse a funeral for Thatcher which cost the taxpayer over three million pounds.
Maybe lefties such as myself should support the museum then, after all. It would be the ultimate bluff on our part. To build the museum would be an act of PR buffoonery by the Conservatives; akin to that which derailed Labours’ election chances in 2015.
Mr. Cameron, I take back what I said. Thatcher was great. Have you ever seen the working classes suppressed in a way so delightfully brutal and calculated? And Scotland? Scotland can piss off. Lets’ build a museum. No, lets’ build two museums! We can triple the budget and encrust the brickwork with diamonds. The great lady deserves no less. And the public will love it no doubt. Seems like a no-brainer, David.