I wasn’t the first member of my family to have his views on Margaret Thatcher printed in this newspaper.

In May 1979 my elder brother Vic, then 25, made a very shrewd prediction.

He warned on the letters page: “Watching the election of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister I was reminded of the words of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first ever Prime Minister, who in 1739, said, ‘Today you are ringing your bells but tomorrow you’ll be wringing your hands!’”

Vic’s prophetic words were echoed in the Mirror’s front page following her election 40 years ago today, when we urged her: “It would be a disaster if we became confirmed as two nations, industrially, politically and socially.”

But she didn’t listen to us. She never did.

The woman who famously promised: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony... where there is despair, may we bring hope” was deaf to those who challenged her fanatical neoliberal worldview.

Which was why, for vast swathes of this country, her 11 years in power brought only discord, despair and hopelessness on a brutal scale.

Miners occupying the Coal Board HQ in 1984
 

She launched a seismic shift in wealth to the rich, broke-up traditional industries and working-class communities, sold our assets, attacked local councils, the welfare state and unions and left Britain more deeply and dangerously divided than it has ever been.

Brexit looks like a hippy love-in by comparison.

Ah, say her apostles, but Britain was the Sick Man of Europe by the mid-1970s, and we needed her to save us from bankruptcy.

That’s not how I remember it, nor the New Economics Foundation. Its statisticians proved that 1976 was the best year on record for equality of incomes and quality of life in this country.

When she was elected in 1979, under-investment, poor industrial relations and the effects of the global oil crisis had left inflation high and the economy slumping.

However there were plenty of jobs, wages were growing and for the first time in many working-class families’ history, kids, like me, were going to university.

But Thatcher and her paymasters realised this equality lark had gone too far so she let the free market rip, slashed taxes and regulations and helped the rich fill their boots.

For the economy as a whole, her economic miracle was a myth.

During her time in power, only in 1987 and 1988 did the UK exceed the economic growth witnessed under Labour in 1978. Only in 1988 and 1989 did her policies produce a surplus budget.

Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, right after she was elected Prime Minister
 

And every year unemployment was higher than under any Labour government since the 1920s. From 1983 to 1987 it stood at more than three million.

The true figure was actually higher due to Thatcher’s cynical policy of switching people to disability benefits to keep the numbers down.

Numbers paid for by North Sea oil which could have helped re-invigorate the industrial heartlands she was strangling.

But that did not appeal to her. She wrote off those jobs and heartlands.

And cared not a jot for the shocking human cost. In her contempt for those less fortunate she tore society apart, with inner-city riots in places like Toxteth, Brixton, Handsworth and Moss Side and poll tax riots across the country, book-ending her callous reign.

Throughout the 1980s many families were scarred with unemployment, suicide, shattered self-esteem, house repossessions, depression, drugs and divorce.

She wrecked the chances of a generation of youngsters and threw middle-aged men on the scrapheap. Crime soared and pensioners were locked inside, petrified of being burgled for the price of a quick fix.

We saw state schools and NHS hospitals crumble, while the private ones flourished.

Police in Toxteth, Liverpool, during the 1981 riots

She led us into a land where self-interest was all, where money bought life chances and determined death chances, where ruthless bosses treated workers like cart horses and government split its citizens into two categories: Us and Them.

Us were those who shared its mercenary vision.

Them were the ones who despised that vision, or couldn’t buy into it. And they were cast adrift. If you were with her you were fine as the incomes of the top 10% rose by £50billion.

Against her? You were kicked to the floor and stamped on.

In the first half of the 1980s, my home city of Liverpool lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs as inward investment stagnated, the council’s funding was hammered and the city was left to go into “managed decline.”

I remember signing-on there in 1985 after she’d abolished the Greater London Council where I’d worked, and being asked by the woman in the dole office: “Is there any place that bitch hasn’t closed down?”

My lost dad joined three of my uncles in a Yosser “Gizzajob” Hughes search for a decent pay day. Most were unsuccessful.

Thatcher with her friend, the evil child abuser Jimmy Savile, whom she had knighted

The story was the same in the pit, steel, ship and car building communities of the North East, Midlands, Wales and Scotland.

Per capita income on Merseyside fell to £7,840, lower than depressed parts of Portugal and Greece. In the old mining lands of South Yorkshire, it was £7,700.

The likes of Scousers and Tykes were people Thatcher chose not merely to beat, but to make an example of, for daring to make a stand.

She showed her colours during the miners’ strike and after Hillsborough when she let her private army, South Yorkshire Police, smear the injured and dead.

But some did well by her. She sucked up to despots like General Pinochet, propped up apartheid in South Africa, and loved Jimmy Savile. She had him round for Christmas dinner and knighted him.

She urged us to Tell Sid we wanted to buy shares in our publicly owned ­industries. But she didn’t tell us those xutilities would soon make billions for her rich chums as they ripped off the British people.

She was hailed a liberator of the working class for allowing people to buy their council houses.

A front page story covering Thatcher's initial struggles on 14 March 1980
The fallout of Thatcher's policies as covered on a Mirror front page from 18 December 1987

Many of the minority who could afford it made a tidy profit. But the majority who couldn’t lost out badly.

She so distrusted local councils she banned them from re-investing most of the sell-off cash into building new homes, causing a severe housing shortage and rents to rocket.

It meant the losers, left paying rip-off rents in insecure tenancies, had subsidised the winners who’d got homes cheap.

The same old Thatcherite story. The effects are being felt, mainly by the young, to this day.

She liberated City bankers with a Big Bang, turning London into the speculator’s world capital.

Within a decade we had a banking system which spawned out-of-control Krug-supping spivs who crashed the economy in 2009.

Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney character poked fun at the shallow decadence of the 1980s

Ordinary families were left to be poorer today than a decade ago while the spivs carried on picking up their bonuses.

Those bankers aren’t the only products of Thatcherism that haunt us today.

A generation of young Tories grew up worshipping her free-market views and her Euroscepticism. David Cameron thrust Brexit on us to try to placate them, taking us back to Thatcher’s days as a warring nation.

George Osborne brought in austerity to shrink the state and attack the poor taking us back to Victorian times. Look at her glorious Thatcherite legacy.

We work longer hours in less secure jobs, there are hordes of homeless on the streets, kids go to school hungry, families live off foodbanks, the NHS is in crisis.

Social mobility has stagnated as has productivity and investment. The North/South divide is huge, the gap between rich and poor is off the scale. Some might say, it’s what she would have wanted.

My feelings have never mellowed towards Thatcher and never will.

Like millions of others I hated her and all she stood for because she showed through her actions that she hated us.

A Daily Mirror front page from April 30 1984
The May 5 1979 Mirror front page

We gave her no respect because all she gave us was contempt.

Four years after her first election victory, in June 1983, Neil Kinnock warned the British people “not to fall ill...not to get old” under Thatcher.

Today, the second one gets to tell his big brother how spot-on he was about the right-wing fanatic who left everyone who didn’t buy into her ruthless dogma wringing their hands.

Thanks for the warning, our kid.

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