Milk Snatcher And The Arts

This morning’s Daily Telegraph had an article by Sarfraz Manzoor entitled “Thatcher, the creative catalyst for a generation”. It had some interesting observations and quotes:

“Margaret Thatcher was, the obituaries tell us, a divisive prime minister, but this is not quite the full story. For film-makers, musicians, comedians and others in the creative community Mrs Thatcher was a person around whom there was a broad consensus: the consensus was that she was a malign and destructive influence on Britain in general and the arts in particular …

Maggie Regina 1983 by Peter Kennard born 1949Maggie Regina – Peter Kennard (1983)

“Richard Luce, an arts minister during the second Thatcher administration, was quoted as saying that many in the arts world ‘had yet to be weaned away from the welfare state mentality’ and that ‘the only test of our ability to succeed is whether we can attract customers.’

“During the Thatcher years funding to key arts organisations was dramatically cut, prompting the novelist Hanif Kureishi to claim years later that the former prime minister was ‘basically vulgar, and has little cultural sophistication or understanding … she actively hated culture, as she recognised that it was a form of dissent’. ….

“It is hard to imagine Mrs Thatcher laughing along with [Ben] Elton or Alexei Sayle but without her it is doubtful there would have been the emergence of alternative comedy …

“Meanwhile, the roster of rock bands who recorded songs in which Thatcher or the Tories were the enemy is an impressive one: a playlist – call it ‘Now That’s Why I Hate Tories’ – would include Margaret on the Guillotine by the Smiths; Ghost Town by the Specials, the Jam’s A Town Called Malice; Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding; and pretty much everything by Billy Bragg. …

“… These were the years of economic turbulence and social upheaval: widespread unemployment, the last days of mining, the rise of the yuppie and mass home ownership and race riots. It is not surprising that these were also years when writers such as John Sullivan, Alan Bleasdale, Ken Loach, Dennis Potter and Jimmy McGovern were able to create some of the defining television drama of the Eighties.

‘Without Thatcher Yosser Hughes wouldn’t have been saying ‘gissa job’ on Boys from the Blackstuff, … and Del Boy wouldn’t have been telling Rodney that this time next year they’d be millionaires.

“Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 and yet, through her legislation and her legacy, her influence remains. Two of the most successful British films made since she departed Downing Street – The Full Monty (1997) and Billy Elliot (2000) – are both set in communities blighted by her economic policies. …”

Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing 2004 by Tracey Emin born 1963Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing – Tracey Emin (2004)

The Tate website makes it clear that the references in this textile are to Margret Thatcher and the Falklands War: “The ensign flag used in this work – the Royal Navy White Ensign or St George’s Ensign, which is flown on Royal Navy ships – the reference to 1982 and war, and the accusations of a guilty woman all indicate that Hate and Power can be a Terrible Thing is based on The Falklands War. This seventy-two day war fought in 1982 between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic caused the death of nearly 900 men. Margaret Thatcher was the British prime minister at the time.”


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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6 Responses to Milk Snatcher And The Arts

  1. kestrelart says:

    Interesting reflection.
    Left wing politics was more fun then too.

  2. Interesting, but flawed – as much interesting music, art and comedy have/ had been made without her influence. I suspect the artists mentioned would have been successful anyway but with different subjects for their art.

  3. The art of political opposition was certainly alive and well back in the ’80s and is emerging now, so in one way, adversity is a catalyst for artistic output. But at what cost to people and communities? Interesting article.

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