Welsh Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies explains that while South Wales will never forgive Lady Thatcher for the miners' strike, it is time to move on.
Margaret Thatcher was the ultimate conviction politician. She undoubtedly transformed the country. She was indisputably a giant amongst 20th Century British Prime Ministers.
Yet despite all that, and despite the hagiographic eulogies currently congesting our media, she lacked one attribute without which giants simply become tyrants.
She lacked compassion.
That is why I and others can simultaneously admire her drive and tenacity, and despise and decry her callous disregard for the human costs of her policies.
Domestically, a dire Thatcherite legacy stands out in any former coal-mining communities, including those I have the privilege to live in and to represent.
It is why – despite support for some of the things she did from some of my constituents – the enduring memories here in the valleys are bitter.
In her desire to curb the worst excesses of 1970s unionism as part of curing the “sick man of Europe” syndrome, she set out not to tame but to eviscerate the unions.
Plenty of people – including moderate traditional Labour supporters – empathised with the need for change after the worst excesses of extreme union militancy in the 1970s which had ultimately left the dead unburied and rubbish rotting in the streets, and which had humbled successive Labour and Tory administrations.
Yet the approach she chose was a bloody (literally sometimes) confrontation of the organised state against some of its citizens, and a fight to the death.
It was audacious and well-planned. She would take on the NUM – the most powerful union of them all – and in crushing Arthur Scargill (who Neil Kinnock would allege played into her hands by not calling a national ballot on strike action) would lay to rest the question of “who governed Britain?”
There was an ideological relish to the way she and her cabinet ministers went about it. It was a scorched-earth policy, with no compassion, no subtlety, no consideration whatsoever for families and communities in places like the South Wales valleys who would be caught up in the onslaught.
No recognition that the NUM was not Scargill alone (and certainly not in South Wales) but thousands of individual miners who worked and supported their families in valleys where alternative employment was scarce.
She broke the back of these communities and families for at least a generation, and that is simply unforgiveable, because it was also so very foreseeable if she were successful.
This merciless is not the mark of a great Prime Minister, or a justification for untempered eulogising in parliament, of for a state funeral in all but name, or a statue on a plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Maggie always said she could not forgive her cabinet colleagues for turning on her and booting her out of office. She lost a job, but went on to earn – as all modern PMs do – riches on the after-dinner and lecture circuit.
Her supporters must then understand those who will in turn not forgive her, for having their own national elected leader turning on them, stripping them bare, and leaving them to the wilderness.
The massive and overnight increase in unemployment and “signing on sick” in former coal-mining areas (and so-called “smokestack” manufacturing areas) were direct outcomes of her desire to not just win, but to destroy the unions and all who stood by them.
She broke much more.
The lasting damage to these communities happened on her watch, directly because of her actions. There was no thought to compromise, to job replacement and social and economic regeneration, to the social and human costs, to the loss of individual dignity which was hidden in the rising tide of mass unemployment and despair which would clearly result.
Perhaps the grocer’s daughter from Grantham had learnt at her father’s side the price of everything, but the value of nothing. As the pits closed, coal continued to fuel the country but was imported more cheaply from Poland and elsewhere.
Yet the immense human costs throughout the South Wales valleys and every other mining region were immediate, enduring, and ... worst of all ... avoidable.
What I cannot forgive Maggie for, even putting aside clear political differences, is the callous disregard for these people and communities, made evident by the failure to put in place a strategy for the aftermath.
She won the war, left the field strewn with casualties, and walked away.
In despoiling and then abandoning these communities, she proved herself to be a great leader, but forever resigned the mantle of a great one-nation Prime Minister.
The livelihoods, dignity and hard camaraderie which miners earned through work were snatched away, and their families and communities were brutalised.
The downward social spiral of mass unemployment touched many households, with the spectre of drugs and despair haunting previously proud working communities.
Their memories of the 1980s under Thatcher were wholly different from someone living in the red-braced champagne-guzzling hedonism of the trading floors in London. The self-serving individualism of the Yuppie generation was a million miles away from the collectivist tradition and community-spirit of South Wales.
So Maggie taught me important lessons about political leadership: how conviction politics can be inspirational and powerfully transformative; and how that same conviction unless tempered with compassion can be truly brutal and mean and divisive.
Maggie ended as she began. In division and discord.
This is not a time for street parties, or endless eulogies. I did my mourning in 1992 when Labour lost again, and I drank through the night until dawn until sober again in a locked-in pub in Ystalyfera. I walked home up the hill, with a sense of loss for my communities again.
An elderly lady has passed away, and her family deserve the compassion and respect to allow them to grieve.
Compassion and respect are also necessary qualities in any individual and any politician, the more so the higher they rise and the more powerful they become. There are lessons there for all.
Time to move on.
Huw Irranca-Davies is Shadow Mininster for Food and Farming.