No Such Thing as Society

“There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
Margaret Thatcher

Society is like time.

Time is an abstract concept – you can’t touch it, see it, smell it. You can’t put time in a bottle or bury it in the ground. Society is the same.

When Margaret Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society”, this is what she meant. When we interact with “society”, we’re actually interacting with other people. This is something that resonates with me.

The most heinous crimes committed in the history of our species, have been committed by one ‘society’ against another; they are very rarely committed by one person against another person. Indeed, one of the key factors of The Holocaust was the casting of Jews as untermensch; sub-humans; not real people.

As a Computer Scientist, I have found that the more I learn about computer science, the more I realise that it’s all about people.

When you focus on people, you generally can’t go far wrong. Ask Steve Jobs.


Baroness Margaret Hilda “The Iron Lady” Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, LG OM PC FRS, 13th October 1925 – 8th April 2013.

Lady T was:

  • A Woman.
  • A Scientist.
  • A Lawyer.
  • A Revolutionary.
  • Undefeated.

Lady T did:

  • Became the first female Prime Minister of the UK.
  • Stayed in office longer than any Prime Minister since 1945, even Tony Blair.
  • Prevented Britain from going bankrupt.
  • Cured the “Sick Man of Europe”.
  • Demonstrated that Women can hold top jobs and do them well (you don’t win 3 General Elections in the UK – two by landslide majorities – without being a good politician).
  • Helped to invent “Mr Whippy” ice-cream.
  • Brought down the military junta in Argentina (by standing-up for the right to self-determination of the people of the Falklands; the military junta fell less than 18 months after the end of the conflict).
  • Helped to bring down the Soviet Union without starting World War 3.
  • Restored confidence and optimism to Britain.
  • Stood-up for the majority of people in Britain against all minority interests.
  • Was instrumental in the ending apartheid in South Africa (the final negotiations were conducted in Britain under the sponsorship of the British Government; both Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk credit her directly for her policy decisions).
  • Increased industrial output while in power.
  • Left Britain much better than it was when she came to power.

My mum is the daughter of a miner. Her main assessment of the conflict between Thatcher and the labour unions? Sexism.

Margaret Thatcher was a Woman. Women do not tell working men what to do.

Let’s be clear: it was Arthur Scargill who declared war on Margaret Thatcher NOT the other way round. The miners were the victims of the arrogance and inflexibility of the union leadership; if, instead of going on strike, the trade union leadership had accepted the plan set out by the government at the time, LESS pits would have been closed than eventually were.

Most of what the ‘political left’ in the UK say about Thatcher are either lies, ignore the facts (even ignoring what the people who were there say) or willful mis-interpretations what was said or done.

On the Campaign Trail

I went canvassing this evening. It is always, interesting and fun. I’d recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in politics.

For the uninitiated, canvassing is going round, knocking on doors asking people how they intend to vote in the up-coming election. The election in question, is the local government (council) elections in Bristol, the Frome Vale ward.

The purpose of canvassing is two-fold; first, it is about finding out how people intend to vote, so decisions can be made about where to focus further campaigning. Second (and probably more importantly), it’s an opportunity for the candidate/their team to meet voters and listen to and discuss the issues-of-the-day.

It’s always really interesting meeting people. Sometimes, it’s not pleasant – people can be very rude, especially if they don’t like the party you’re canvassing for. Sometimes, it’s just-plain-bizarre, like this evening, where a ‘gentleman’ came to the door naked – yes, a full ‘birthday suit’ (or ‘stark-bollock-naked’, as we would say where I’m from). Fortunately, I did not witness this directly!

At other times, it’s just nice. People can be extremely pleasant; many people respect the fact that you’re out, hitting the pavement, even if they disagree with your politics and are happy to talk about the reasons why they disagree with you in a very civilised and reasonable way.

Canvassing. Try it, you might like it!