We cannot celebrate Thatcher or Johnson.

Thatcher decimated the North, removed opportunities from the working class and poisoned Britain, Johnson will do the same

One of the most enriching aspects of attending LSE is mixing with people of different nationalities, ethnicities and classes. We should all relish this opportunity. However, the student body here is characterised by privilege. Working-class kids, those who are state-school educated or have distinct regional accents, are in the minority and we feel it.  It has become particularly pronounced this week as two comment pieces praising Margaret Thatcher were published in The Beaver and some of the student body seem pleased that Boris Johnson is once again guffawing outside Number 10.

If you know that a Conservative government benefits your family financially, you are no doubt in an extremely fortunate situation. What should be understood is that the freedoms and opportunities afforded to you are impossible for many people in this country; particularly after our state education, youth services and libraries have been eroded by 8 years of austerity. To many people, social mobility is a myth. Their main concern will be paying the rent next month. It’s a different world to the one that we inhabit at LSE, where securing prestigious internships seems to be our collective worry. This Conservative government have attacked the only means for state-school kids to succeed in education. 

We know plenty of kids back home who should or could have attended LSE or equivalent universities but were failed by our schools or couldn’t afford to attend. We know families whose parents worked multiple jobs and barely made enough to put food on the table and heat the house in winter. To us, poverty is a reality rather than a statistic; it’s our friends, our family and a part of our identities. In many ways, attending LSE can seem like a peephole into another world – one that shuts if we don’t choose certain careers after graduation. 

As for Thatcher, we know her as the Prime Minister who took her iron first to British society. Her legacy is the decline of the North – it’s industries and communities- the erosion of workers rights and our current housing crisis. Subsequently, a comfortable standard of living and working life is unattainable to many people. People like us. People we are returning to see this Christmas. 

Capitalism may be associated with wealth creation but it’s also the foundation for vast inequality. It might seem “beautiful” when you’re on the right side of it but on the wrong side, your prospects and freedoms are restricted. State-school didn’t teach us how to network or how to make money, it taught us how to get by. “The psychology of success” is reserved for those who don’t have to worry about how they are going to feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads. 

To those of us who were state-educated, it can seem like The London School of Economics and Political Science lacks a political conscience. Elections aren’t an abstract democratic exercise. To those of us who rely on robust state education, healthcare and welfare, they are the difference between having prospects and having very little. Support for Conservative governments – past and present – is support for less of us to succeed and for more of us to suffer. 

In the fifth largest economy in the world, three people die in sleeping bags slumped in doorways on average per week. This is a direct result of the 164% increase in rough sleeping since the Tories came to power. They have decimated housing and mental health services. Not to mention the youth services that have been shut and the decreasing number of police on our streets, which mean that more of our young people are dying as victims of knife crime. The well documented NHS and social care crisis is causing unnecessary deaths, through negligence and long waiting lists for treatment. Thatcher killed our industries and communities. This government’s programme of austerity has killed prospects and people. Some of us at LSE are well acquainted with – or could have easily been one of – their victims.

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