THATCHER was a visionary says David Lammy. That would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.

Thatcher was a political thug. And the Shadow Foreign Secretary knows it.

Though he was just 12 at the time of the miners’ strike, Lammy says he witnessed considerable unemployment in the 1980s which “affected the community I was growing up in” in north London.

Affected? Try decimated.

Or perhaps the poorest parts of London were somehow immune from the jobs scrapheap that stood like a physical thing over every city, town and village in Scotland and “The North”?

READ MORE: Five times Labour have praised Margaret Thatcher

Likewise, Rachel Reeves (still in primary school in 1984) who told a prestigious London gathering this week that Thatcher deserved praise for delivering “supply-side reforms” and rejecting Britain’s “managed decline”.

This is absolute, arrant nonsense and misleading bullshit.

Thatcher used the proceeds of Scotland’s oil and gas resources to flog off every asset of value – everything that’s remained in public ownership across Europe especially trains, water, energy. This was a colossal and almost irreversible mistake.

Who is seriously arguing today that any of these privatisations actually worked? Nobody.

Not the Tories who had to renationalise Trans Pennine Express’ franchise last year because of its’ shocking record – the fourth failed English franchise to be taken back into public ownership in as many years. In Scotland, of course, Scotrail renationalisation happened two years ago.

The National: Margaret Thatcher

Keir Starmer has now pledged to renationalise the whole shebang – without details on how he’ll do it. So, was this disastrous act of public transport sabotage (along with bus deregulation) one of Thatcher’s useful “supply-side reforms”? Or maybe an example of Thatcher “setting loose Britain’s natural entrepreneurialism”, to quote an admiring Starmer?

No, it was just a disaster which has left Britain with the highest rail prices in Europe – all because Maggie hated public transport. When you factor in congestion, pollution, petrol price inflation and the hiked cost of living, that single Thatcher privatisation has set Britain back 30 years.

Well maybe Reeves, Lammy and Starmer are more impressed by her 1980’s decision to flog off water – the most precious natural asset possessed by any country? Actually, the only countries in the world with privately owned water and sanitation are England, Wales and Chile. That’s it. Why no others? No sane person needs an explanation.

Nor do the hundreds of thousands complaining daily about sewage in English rivers or the anglers whose winter water samples have helped prove that 83% of English rivers have high pollution from sewage and agriculture.

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Sure, there are problems with Scotland’s publicly owned system too. But nothing compared to the 19 water companies making billions at the expense of English billpayers.

And who are those companies? By and large the state-owned water companies of European governments. Y’know – the nasty foreigners from whom Boris urged us all to wrest back control. Except over water – weird.

So was Thatcher’s privatisation of water something Labour grandees could admire?

Au contraire, it’s been a costly disaster with over-valued companies deemed too expensive to re-nationalise. So English folk must wait for their water companies to go bust one by one when a new government can (maybe) buy them up cheap. Is this Maggie’s “big manifesto for change” – or did Lammy mean to admire something else?

Like the disastrous privatisation of energy that’s left energy-rich Scotland with Europe’s worst fuel poverty?

Or maybe Lammy was referring to Mrs T’s “visionary” decision to break the trade union movement forty years ago in the miners’ strike?

The National: miners strike

It's hard to describe the damage that’s done to the Scottish psyche and the race to the bottom that followed the collapse of the NUM as big companies opted not to recognise trade unions, abandon collective bargaining, force “no strike” agreements and zero-hour contracts and contribute to a shameful situation where the majority of folk claiming benefits are actually in (low-paid, precarious) work.

Happily, trade unions are making a comeback.

But industrial relations have remained aggressive and stuck. It’s not just workers’ rights that suffer – the health and energy-sapping race to the bottom makes us sick, dispirited and liable to emigrate and all of this damages productivity. Thanks Mrs T.

Is this what Rachel Reeves regards as central to Thatcher’s “decade of national renewal?”

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You can understand Tory grandees believing that whatever the pain, Maggie’s destruction of organised labour paid dividends. But Labour? Does Starmer actually admire Thatcher’s subjugation of the trade union movement?

It’s certainly been a “useful” backdrop for him – a Labour leader who sacked a junior shadow minister in 2022 for joining strikers on a picket line. As long as Thatcher’s thinking is viewed as the enduring Ghost in the Machine – in the heads and hearts of English voters – Starmer can justify his mission to create New New Labour. Indeed Lady Thatcher described Tony Blair as her greatest legacy.

So, if they won’t fess up to admiring wholesale privatisation, mass unemployment, cruelty and the destruction of industrial relations – what precisely is it about Mrs Thatcher that Reeves, Lammy and Starmer so admire?

The National: Among many disastrous actions, Margaret Thatcher used Scotland to experiment with the poll tax

Put simply, she kept winning and she didn’t do compromise.

In the real world – particularly in Scotland – Thatcher is righty regarded as a political and economic disaster.

And Reeves knows that. So too the journalists who have faithfully printed and repeated her words and those of Lammy without a single eyebrow raised. But she won. Never mind the lies, the human cost, the economic cost to this country.

Stephen Flynn was absolutely on the money again with his barbed question to Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

“With his backbenchers now looking for a unity candidate to replace him, which of the born-again Thatcherites on the Labour frontbench does he believe best fits the bill?”

Cue much laughter from all sides. Except it’s not funny.

READ MORE: PMQs: Stephen Flynn quip sparks laughter from MPs and Rishi Sunak

Just as the Tory Party prepares to get its collective jotters, Labour is suggesting that the most right-wing, callous, dogma-driven Tory prime minister was actually pretty cool.

Has Thatcher become some kind of touchstone – a comfort figure for right-wing English voters who rate “strong” leaders ready to crush opposition – whether that’s the miners in 1985 or “Eurocrats” in 2016?

Have younger generations simply forgotten the desolation created by the Thatcher years – and thus failed to spot how her “legacy” is used to justify every cruel and pointless subsequent manoeuvre from Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for migrants and George Osborne’s painful and pointless austerity to the prospect of 10 Labour years based on Tory spending plans?

If so, can I suggest a documentary broadcast on Tuesday night about the brilliant, spiky, two-tone band the Specials.

Jerry Dammers formed the multi-racial group to connect the black and white communities in his hometown of Coventry. As the band toured the UK in 1980 he observed; “The country was falling apart. Margaret Thatcher had apparently gone mad, she was closing down all the industries, throwing millions of people on the dole. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience. It was clear something was very, very wrong.”

The result was one powerful song – a memorial for everyone and everything lost in that terrible time. Ghost Town – with the late, great Terry Hall on vocals.

Let’s not go there again. Let’s not forget. And let’s not look the other way as Labour tries to rehabilitate Margaret Thatcher. It is a terrible, shameful deceit.