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তিনি ছিলেন রুচিতে মফস্বল

April 10, 2013

লৌহমানব লৌহমানবী আমার কাছে এসব অর্থহীন। মার্গারেট থ্যাচার চলতেন সহজ শর্তে — কারো কথা কানেই তুলতেন না, আবার কারো কথা মন্ত্রের মতো মানতেন — কিন্তু কখন কার ব্যাপারে কোন অবস্থানটি নেবেন সেটা ছিল একান্ত তার ব্যাপার। মে ১৯৭৯ থেকে নভেম্বর ১৯৯০ এসময়টা টানা ছিলেন ব্রিটেনের ক্ষমতায়, দ্বিতীয় যুদ্ধোত্তর ব্রিটেনের খুঁড়িয়ে খুঁড়িয়ে চলাকে সুদৃঢ় ভিত্তিতে দাঁড় করেছিলেন থ্যাচার। কোনো এক অনন্য ক্ষমতায় সোভিয়েতকে চিনেছিলেন নাড়িতে নক্ষত্রে, রিগ্যানের সোভিয়েত পাঠ তার কাছ থেকেই নেয়া, গর্বাচেভকে চিহ্নিত করেছিলেন পশ্চিমের আর সব নেতার অনেক আগে। গতকাল সোমবার তিনি ৮৭ বছর বয়সে পৃথিবী থেকে বিদায় নিলেন। নারীবাদ ঘৃণা করে নারীবাদের প্রতীক হলেন তিনি অনেকের কাছে।

তিনি ছিলেন রুচিতে মফস্বল, তাকে নিয়ে ব্রিটিশ জনপ্রিয় সংস্কৃতি ছিল তীব্র দোটানায়। তার অর্থনৈতিক নীতিতেই শিল্পীদের সুখের গড্ডালিকার অবসান হলেও অনেক শিল্পীর অঢেল ধনসমাগমের পথও খুলে গেল ব্রিটেনে প্রথমবারের মতো। এত গান, ব্যাঙ্গ, উচ্ছ্বাস, প্রশংসা, নিন্দা সবমাধ্যমের বৃটিশ শিল্পীরা আর কাউকে নিয়ে করেছে বলে মনে হয় না।

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As you’ve no doubt heard, Margaret Thatcher died this morning, leading to a flood of internet coverage of her divisive years in power and her legacy. The serious commentary is best left to our friends across the Atlantic (if you’re after such, we recommend David Stubbs’ coruscating obituary for the The Quietus.) We’ll limit ourselves to a survey of how the Thatcher era manifested in popular culture — and for all that plenty of outlets have published articles today about anti-Thatcher songs, etc., the truth is rather more nuanced — for every “Margaret on the Guillotine” or “The Day That Thatcher Dies,” there’s a Thatcherite pop star waiting in the wings. Anyway, here’s a brief look at how the Thatcher years and the woman herself have been depicted in popular culture, both at the time and the benefit of hindsight.

The literary world was rather more welcoming to Thatcher than the world of music, particularly one Amis, K, who apparently had quite the raging boner gentlemanly appreciation for her, writing on her election in 1979 that “[t]he British people have seen the future, found it doesn’t work, and want to go somewhere else,” and later describing her as his “dream girl” and also calling her “one of the most beautiful women I have ever met.” Whatever floats your boat, and all that. (Still, not every writer who lauded her rise to power maintained that view: Harold Pinter later described voting Conservative as “idiotic… [and] infantile, on my part.”)

Thatcher had an ambivalent relationship with the art world. In 2009, for instance, the Guardian asked a bunch of musicians, artists, and writers about the effect she had on British culture, and the verdict was that if nothing else, she gave artists plenty of motivation. Beyond that, though, there have been genuinely pro-Thatcher artists — conceptual duo Gilbert and George, for instance, have long been vocal supporters of madam, notwithstanding her cuts to arts funding: “She deregulated everything, so [artists] could become rich… for the first time. Before that they had to be art-school teachers, mostly.” Margaret Thatcher: indirectly responsible for Damien Hirst? Ew…

Hilariously, the ubiquitous pop producers were once voted the worst thing about the ’80s, after… Margaret Thatcher. And indeed, their über-commercial and apolitical pop made them the perfect soundtrack to the era. Of course, it’s generally been the pop side of the musical spectrum that’s embraced the right (with a couple of notable exceptions, of course.) Which brings us to…

The whole Thatcher-was-a-feminist angle reached the heights of asinine simplicity with the Spice Girls, who lauded her as “the original Spice Girl” in their Girl Power hierarchy. (And still do, apparently.) All this rather ignored the fact that Thatcher herself had said things like this, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story etc etc?

বিস্তারিত পড়ুন : British Pop Culture’s Ambivalent Relationship with Margaret Thatcher: A Retrospective

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4 Comments
  1. Secret files shed light on first Thatcher-Gorbachev talks

    Classified documents made public Tuesday shed light on the political courtship between Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev — whom she famously declared she could “do business” with.

    After Gorbachev’s first official visit to Britain in 1984, four months before he became Soviet leader, Thatcher praised his “charm and humour” as both sides sought to improve East-West relations.

    The warmth of their relationship even survived one of the most notorious defections of the Cold War — double agent Oleg Gordievsky, who had been head of the KGB’s London station, in 1985.

    The documents were released by the National Archives in London under the 30-year rule, which allows previously secret government files to be made public three decades on.

    Thatcher, who died in 2013, wrote to then US president Ronald Reagan following Gorbachev’s visit.

    “He is relatively open in manner and intelligent. He is affable and has some charm and humour,” she wrote. “I certainly found him a man one could do business with. I actually rather liked him.”

    Despite that positive impression, Gorbachev was also subjected to the “Iron Lady’s” legendary sharp tongue.

    “He was clearly not used to the sort of rigorous questioning which he got from me on things like human rights in the Soviet Union,” she added.

    British officials also were struck by his vivacious wife Raisa, who at one point on the trip dropped in to royal jeweller Mappin and Webb to buy some gold earrings set with diamonds and rubies.

    Less glamorously, she also sent a book of 500 Belarusian potato recipes to Britain’s agriculture minister after the trip, following a conversation the pair had on the subject.

    “If you have anyone who reads Russian and has a fondness for potatoes, we would be happy to lend it,” wrote senior agriculture ministry civil servant Ivor Llewellyn to Downing Street colleague Len Appleyard after receiving the book.

    – ‘Values different from ours’ –

    Gordievsky’s defection to Britain — he shook off KGB agents trailing him in Moscow and boarded a train to Finland before being taken over the border in the boot of an embassy car — threatened to cast a major shadow over improving East-West relations.

    The files contain a string of documents about Gordievsky under the codename HETMAN — the title used for Cossack military commanders — including a letter from Thatcher to Reagan informing him of the defection on September 6, 1985.

    Britain was concerned about Gordievsky’s welfare without his family and pushed for his wife and two daughters to be quietly allowed to leave the Soviet Union and join him.

    The MI6 foreign intelligence agency even got word to their Soviet counterparts that there would be a high-profile mass expulsion of KGB agents from London identified by Gordievsky if they did not agree.

    But Moscow did not budge.

    On September 7, amid a wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions, Thatcher wrote to Gordievsky and told him that Britain would not be pushing Moscow for his family to be returned.

    “We had to face up to the reality of the kind of people with whom we are dealing and the fact that their values are very different from ours,” she wrote.

    “Please do not say that life has no meaning. There is always hope. And we shall do all we can to help you through these difficult days.”

    Gordievsky’s family eventually joined him in 1991, but the years of separation had taken their toll and the marriage soon broke down.

    The next recorded correspondence between Thatcher and Gorbachev after Gordievsky’s defection came when he sent her early birthday wishes on October 12 and suggested that their cooperation should continue.

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