Around 150 students crammed into the Revolution Coffee Bar at Sheffield University on Monday 30th September to hear John Dunn - Socialist Appeal supporter, ex-miner, and current member of Unite the Union - debate against a motion proposing that Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister was a triumph, leading to long term prosperity for British people that we should all be very grateful for today.
Joe Rollin, the local organiser of the South Yorkshire Unite Community branch was asked by the Sheffield University Debating Society to provide a speaker for the debate and John - a miner during the 1984-85 strike, which was a landmark event during Thatcher’s reign as Prime minister - readily agreed to speak.
Following the speaker from the Tories, who opened for the proposition by claiming that Thatcher really was the best thing that has happened to Britain since the invention of sliced bread, John passionately described the reality of Thatcher’s Britain and the economic and social effects of Tory policies on the coal and steel industry in the Sheffield area and elsewhere.
John described the disasters that ensued from following the capitalist mantra of relying on "the invisible hand" of the market and explained how the promises made by Thatcher that she would give the British people a “share owning" part in the wealth of Britain were nothing but an excuse to privatise and dismantle nationalised industries in the interests of profit-making big businesses.
As a result of Thatcher's attacks on the trade unions and the driving down of wages, working people, John said, were forced into a credit bubble in which the hard earned savings of ordinary people were gambled away by the bankers, leading eventually to the huge finance crisis of 2008. The British people are now paying for the nationalisation of the debts created by this crisis, whilst the bankers are still receiving their huge bonuses.
John reminded the meeting that this - the decimation of communities, the present austerity, high youth unemployment and continuing poverty - was the real legacy of Thatcher.
Following lively and interesting contributions from the floor the debate was wound up by John who urged students to join Unite the Union, become politically organised, and begin the fight back against this current anti-working class, Tory-led coalition government.
John ended by appealing to the students that the best way to secure their own future and put an end to the legacy of Thatcher was to join in the struggle for a socialist society. The debate was put to the vote and the argument put forward by John and Unite the Union was carried by a huge majority to loud applause and cheering.