Mrs. Thatcher, Talks with the IRA and Islamist Terrorists

The opinionated, and very well-informed Yorkshireman of the Another Angry Voice website has this article taking apart some of the spurious right-wing claims about Premier Thatcher’s supposed achievements. One of the claims he tackles is that Margaret Thatcher did not kow tow to the IRA. AAV’s point of view is that Mrs. Thatcher, by continuing the war against the IRA, actually did more harm than good, costing innumerable lives and perpetuating the sectarian divisions and bitterness in Ulster.

There’s clearly much truth in this. Years ago the BBC did a series on how Mrs. Thatcher appropriated Winston Churchill’s heroic view of British history to provide historiographical support for her regime. One of the speakers was a former Republican terrorist. This particular individual said that they found it far easier to recruit members during Mrs. Thatcher’s premiership than under her Conservative predecessor, Ted Heath. This was partly due to her invocation of Winston Churchill. For Brits Churchill is the hero, who saved Europe and gave Britain its finest hour as we took on the might of Nazi Germany and its jackbooted allies. For Irish nationalists, however, Churchill is the monster, who unleashed the Black and Tans and their atrocities.

Apart from the force of Mrs. Thatcher’s rhetoric, I’m not actually sure how staunchly opposed to the I.R.A. she actually was. Way back in the 1990s the Financial Times reviewed a history of the Troubles and the negotiations between the British government and the IRA by a senior figure in either the IRA or Sinn Fein. The author states that after the bombing of Canary Wharf, the British government initiated secret talks with the Republicans. He recalled how very strange it was to be saluted by a British soldier, when he entered a British army base where the negotiations were being held.

Not only does this show that Mrs. Thatcher was indeed prepared to ‘kow tow’ to the IRA when it finally suited her, it also demonstrates her duplicity. Part of the Conservative’s rhetoric during Mrs. Thatcher’s administration attacked the Labour Party and the Left for its lack of patriotism in its sympathy for Irish Nationalism. Some of that criticism is perfectly valid, considering the suffering caused by the IRA. However, it also shows that even while she was attacking the Left as an unpatriotic threat to Britain, she was doing exactly the same.

Another myth that needs to be tackled is the recent that claim that Mrs. Thatcher would have stood up to the Islamist terror groups that now operate in Britain. This is doubtful, as Mrs. Thatcher’s policies towards Afghanistan are part of the reason the Islamist radicals are in Britain in the first place. Under Mrs. Thatcher, Britain offered sanctuary to members of the Mujahideen in the proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. These included some deeply repulsive individuals responsible for quite horrific atrocities. One of the individuals Mrs. Thatcher allowed to claim asylum was responsible for the bombing of a Soviet passenger aircraft. The target had been a number of Russian officers on the flight. The casualties also included tens of schoolchildren being taken back to school in Russia. Under the Blair administration the government and police certainly did not want to take action against radical Islamist preaching and terrorist activities. Those moderate Muslims, who attempted to inform the authorities were ignored. Nevertheless, this seems to represent a policy that once again, can be traced back to Mrs. Thatcher.

If would appear from this that, far from being the Iron Lady, who never gave in to terrorism, she was quite prepared to do so, or give aid and sanctuary to its perpetrators, when it suited her to do so.

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