Formative Politics of the 1970s



What happened to Punk? What happened to counter-punk? At a time of great British demographic social change in the 1970’s, 2 sides drew their swords and tried to impale each other in the 1980s, politically, culturally and economically. Thatcher(MT) set a course to antagonise ferociously against the great implosion of a once proud continent of Britain – but she derived some ammunition as well as sharing psychologically the very bête noire she wanted to obliterate. Does anger, hatred, and confrontationalism remind us of anything other than youthful rebelliousness? She knew what she wanted and knew how to get it? Didn’t she want to destroy unions of industrial might? She didn’t mind the bollocks if they didn’t get in her way. Where EMI was them she was Saatchi and Saatchi. It wasn’t to be that Punk broke the mould of Politics in Britain or some whimsical claret drinkers who preferred Boujolais to the red square, it was MT. As Mr Viscious once said that he did it his way, the great warlord MT only did it her way. She was not just a ‘counter-revolutionary’, she was more belligerently radical than any drugged-up nose-ringed prick of Punk ever was. To some stalwarts she was more vulgar, more offensive, more combatant, more sadistic than all the Sex Pistols put together.

Between the warlords of the North( Scargill) and the East ( Livingstone he presumed), the duffle-coated idealism of Michael Foot never stood a chance, in the 1980s. At the time people of the Left thought MT was a fire-breathing dragon who loved gold too much, and it took a conspiracy of New Labour 20 years later to halt her primary influence. Sorry but Blair trumped her. His ‘precious ring’ wasn’t Thatcher’s and all her underlings but a resistance backed by uncompromising zeal for ‘white collar punk’ in government. Blair’s Britain took “a walk on the wild side with the young American Democrats”, otherwise known as bored undergraduates. I’m sure Blair’s smile launched a thousand dental toothpaste brands ever so umbly grateful for the free publicity. Not only did Blair have the one ring to dominate all rings, but he (like MT) had a need for a fix: I know what I want and I know how to get it. Isn’t it odd that hero/anti hero status we ( the public) assign to our public representatives should be so restricted to MT and Blair when there are bigger fish to fry ? We could begin that process by acknowledging the influential monument to cultural and political paradoxes such as Punk.


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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