Monday 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013

Lady T. has died, age 87.
 A  genuine change politician. A conviction politician. A politician who utterly dominated politics and in some eyes still does.
Someone who left the nation vastly different from when she found it.
Divisive, to be sure. But, as Andrew Marr said in his History of Modern Britain,

Politically, Thatcher has made us all her children. Of the prime ministers since the war, she was the one who changed the political weather.

Reader's thoughts on the Thatcher era? 


Malcolm Tucker said...

Sad day. One of the biggest hitters of all time.

Blue Eyes said...

I sometimes think that she pushed too hard, that gradual reform might have been less painful than her blunderbuss approach. But then I look at how ineffectual the current lot are and come to the conclusion that she did more than any other approach might have yielded.

I think she could have accomplished more: she knew what a shambles education was but didn't start tackling it until too late (and got it wrong). She didn't roll back the state nearly as much as she could have, given the free-ish hand she had after the 1983 and 1987 landslides.

She was too much of a centralist, but maybe she needed to be at the time. She was *probably* wrong on some of her tax reforms.

Overall: the best post-war PM we ever had. We could do with someone of her drive right about now.

Ryan said...

Whilst I was a great believer in Thatcherism at the time, the sad fact is that she had very little impact. If you take a look at ONS statistics covering the period before and after Thatcher was in power you can usually draw a straight line through the Thatcher period - she had little impact on public spending or GDP. Unemployment rose dramatically and crime fell.

She did smash the Marxist unions totally, which was a very good thing. Consequently she has been set up as a bogeyman by the Marxists at the BBC ever since. She did kick the Argies out of the Falklands - consequently she provided cover for the very many Tories that would have sold them out to the facists, just as Michael Foot would have done.

She desparately tried to stop the socialists gerrymandering elections by reducing the number of public sector jobs and selling off council houses - but this just encouraged Labour to find new more evil ways of gerrymandering like mass immigration and buying votes with peoples own tax £s.

She tried very hard and she deserves credit for that, but ultimately she failed. She could n't stand up forever against the reality that £600bn of public expenditure every year is a big incentive for a hell of a lot of personal and political corruption.

lilith said...

I had no time for her. I was a lefty and demonstrated against Cruise missiles and put cash in the Miners' buckets. Then I moved to Spain, realised she was absolutely right about Europe and the next thing I knew she was gone. Shame.

She appealed to all sorts though, not just her natural constituency. Calfy's godfather, a working class Glaswegian, thought she was just fantastic.

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DtP said...

Politics as war rather than politics as triangulation. Geez, it seems like a lifetime ago.

I was watching the 1983 general election thingy on BBC Parliament last Sunday and whilst ND said the other day that the Falklands factor was a defo doorstep adrenalin pump, what really surprised was the huge showing for the SDP/Allaince. In fact, Mr Google may know....

Con - 42.4%
Lab - 27.6%
SDP - 25.4%

..which is really quite shocking.

Nowadays, Osborne has to cover his arse just for calling Philpott a feckless twat and the BBC have a group circle jerk. I dunno - plus ca change, qui ce la meme chose etc etc. Doesn't sound like the last few years have been pleasant.


CityUnslicker said...

She won three elections and was popular for her strong leadership and being a strong woman. That is the bit that gets lost in the lefty re-write of what she achieved.

I disagree with Ryan too, under her the wealth gap between rich and poor fell for a change. She encouraged yuppies and white van man. Today the yuppie equivalents are hated and white can men are seen wrongly as underclass.

Finally, I have deleted the recent spam infection again, but it actualy seems to write half sane stuff about the posts, it is quite clever software really. Too clever for the spam filter!

Bill Quango MP said...

Malcolm : Undeniably. Does make pygmies of the freshers.

Ryan: The GDP and the rise in public spending is not necessarily the best measure. Its often used as a Thacher's failure stick. But imagine the 80's without her intervention. The period 1976-1981 is a horror for the UK. But I cannot believe any Labour politician and few Tory ones would have had the stomach to make the nation take the medicine. It transformed the UK from a Spanish/Greece type economy to a modern nation.
We can see that today. We generally won't accept cuts to anyone or anything.

BE: Can't do everything. But she did prioritise. Economy first.
Can't imagine Thatcher ever deciding Gay marriage would be a topic.
You may be right about the landslide victory. But that was the moment actual Tory policies appeared. So not all bad. And in comparison to the Labour landslide of 1997 when they did less than bugger all, she achieved much.

Funnily enough I'm not a great fan. I could have voted Tory in the 1987 election but I never did. And thought she was well past prime by 1990.
The busts of the 80's took me down twice.

However, she was right more than she was wrong and effective more often than ineffective. Even Churchill struggles with achieving that.

Lilith: Europe! Its all so long ago and so current. Like most Thatcherist things. Housing, unions, EU, currency, the banks, the utilities, education, rioting.

Only the well dodgy fashions seem to have consigned to history for good.

DTp; its the polling BEFORE the Falklands that matter.

IPSOS-MORI January 1981
Con -35
Lab -45
Lib -17

Its what Dave is banking on and why Labour immediately jumped into the immigration/UKIP fray and started benefits bashing just yesterday as Ed Miliband knows that if the coalition finds some sort of resonance with public, the Miliband protest vote will disappear like a blank piece of paper in the wind.

andrew said...

the thing I remember best was that she was not really a conservative in the context of the time.
her and tebbitt always had a certain tension with those who inherited their furniture.

she certainly made mistakes - manufacturing should not have declined as much as it did and the poll tax was a disaster

but she did a number of things right - the state had no business owning rolls royce

she was also the last leader who properly understood what war is and so the Falklands campaign was not entered into lightly

love her or hate her - as many do, she inspired strong reactions.

consider the contrast with Blair, of whom we seem to be faintly embarrassed on a national cross party level.

Diogenes Sinope said...

Her timing is excellent.

She seized the moment when in power - and her exit will provide a media driven bounce in the May local elections. UKIP will be spitting despite their claim to be her children.

Early election anyone?

dearieme said...

A very necessary Prime Minister.

Budgie said...

Mrs Thatcher was head and shoulders above the other PMs I have lived under. She had courage, a dedicated work ethic, humility, compassion, straightforwardness and honesty. Given the task she faced - 1970s Britain, the sick man of Europe - she did superlatively well.

Her policies cured the early 1980s recession which had been caused by Labour's disastrous 1970s governance. She comprehensively sidelined the Trotskyism/Marxism/Maoism operating in the UK's unions.

Her two greatest failures in my book were education - possibly through lack of time; and the EU - probably because she under-estimated its will to power. She was knifed in the back by the devious europhiles in the Tory party.

Probably her greatest achievement was, with Ronald Regan, to bring an end to the empire of evil - the USSR, freeing first the East Europeans and then the Russians themselves.

Margaret Thatcher was, thank God, no Utopianist.

Anonymous said...

The Thatcher years were the start of the world we live in today. Her Premiership saw:

a) The start of the debt-fuelled culture which crashed in 2008 - remember "takes the waiting out of wanting" ?
b) The rise of the UK underclass
c) The rise of the deregulated financial “economy” and decline of manufacturing
d) The rise in house prices
e) a collapse in the birth rate as
f) more women participated in the workforce (so they could afford a house!)
g) a dramatic rise in crime – linked to b)
h) the sell-off of vital infrastructure – power generation and distribution being the most important

While winning her economic wars, she was defeated in the culture wars – I’m not sure she even realised she was fighting one, let alone that she was losing. At any event, the Britain of 1990 was a lot further from Alderman Roberts’ Grantham than the Britain of 1979.

But the thing is – every government since has overseen the continuation and perhaps intensification of all the baleful trends above – with the one glorious exception of the Blessed Michael Howard’s noble reversal of the previous 50 years penal policy.

And, of course, Blair added a few more baleful trends all of his very own - including massive immigration and stopping all nuclear development in 1998.


PS - Ken Livingstone, of all people, was pretty neat :

Ken Livingstone, Labour’s former London Mayor who clashed with Lady Thatcher during his time running the Greater London Council in the 1980s, said her personal “courage and drive” made her “the most admirable prime minister of modern times”.

“She didn’t worry about focus groups, she didn’t read the newspapers,” he said.

“There was real courage.”

However, Mr Livingstone said it had been “a tragedy for Britain” that her policies had been so badly flawed.

Electro-Kevin said...

She got a grip on the unions but she did not get a grip on the Left.


RIP Mrs T. You did your best. xxx

Sackerson said...

She fought the right enemies (Adams, Scargill etc) and made the wrong friends (monetary expansionists).

Clive said...

Mrs. T. -- unlike the current lot of conservatives (sorry, a sweeping generalisation but it's true in large part) never, ever for one moment was remotely interested in getting her nose in the money trough and hoovering up larger amounts of cash once out of office. If she did a lecture tour or took a non-exec position, she used the bulk of the proceeds for her political think-tank funding.

The most resent crop of Labour rejects are even worse -- never has anyone displayed such avarice once out of officer as Blair.

While ill health may have played a part, her composed dignity and restraint when out of office showed her true character. Compare and contrast with Ted Heath, Blair.

Mrs. Thatcher got a lot right and a lot wrong. But always the motivation was what (she believed) was good for the country not personal vanity or some ridiculous notion of "legacy". In that way, in a different league to the current crop.

Blue Eyes said...

Laban, should change your name to Lol.

a) The start of the debt-fuelled culture - the start of personal responsibility in personal finances, it was up to people whether to borrow or not
b) The rise of the UK underclass - This is the one I'll let you have, she didn't get those miners and steelworkers back into good jobs quickly enough but it's not her fault they decided to languish in their pit villages and Sheffield
c) The rise of the deregulated financial “economy” and decline of manufacturing - The only way Britain could have kept its inefficient mass manufacturing would have been to keep wages so low as to compete with Korea and China, that isn't what the miners et al. wanted, was it?
d) The rise in house prices - some view it as a rebound to a more normal situation once rent control and rates were abandoned, which both hugely suppressed house prices, also see the huge reductions in interest rates which were possible once inflation was tamed.
e) a collapse in the birth rate as
f) more women participated in the workforce - AWFUL! SEND THEM BACK TO THE KITCHEN!
g) a dramatic rise in crime – linked to b) - Crime in most western countries collapsed simultaneously despite Thatcher not being in charge in the US, Germany, France etc.
h) the sell-off of vital infrastructure – power generation and distribution being the most important - Thatcher's mistake (actually Major's really) was to not bring enough competition in. Presumably you think that if only Brown had been handed a nationalised power industry we wouldn't be about to run out of power?!?!

Thatcher won the argument, hands down.

Sackerson said...

A propos economic legacy:

Ryan said...

a) The start of the debt-fuelled culture - my parents bought their first house in 1970 with a mortgage because the state had ignored the baby boom and not built enough houses. Thatcher simply rode the wave. Not enough good quality houses and too many people led to high house prices and the debts that go with it. No PM in 100 years has sought to get a grip on this crucial issue. I wonder why?
b) The rise of the UK underclass - is it really the job of the Tories to make working class people's lives better when they never vote Tory? Surely that is the job of Labour? Why did Blair not make resolving the problems of areas of high unemployment a top priority? Could it be Labour enjoy having client voters to feed off?

c) The rise of the deregulated financial “economy” and decline of manufacturing. I remember Scargill wanted people paying income tax on their jobs in profitable private sector businesses to subsidise the mines and shipyards while the workers sat around doing little. My father worked in a profitable private sector electronics business and didn't agree with that - which is why he voted for Thatcher.
d) The rise in house prices - we need more and better quality houses. Always have done. Got plenty of people to build them too. Go figure
e) a collapse in the birth rate as
f) more women participated in the workforce - Jesus, this is one of the most overpopulated countries in the world. We had fewer kids because we think Britain needs fewer people. We were undermined by the state.
g) a dramatic rise in crime – linked to b) What? Crime reduced during the Thatcher years! It rose in line with immigration with 2/3rds of all crime being committed by ethnic minorities.
h) the sell-off of vital infrastructure – power generation and distribution being the most important - you're having a laugh! It was so vital the unions were always bringing them to a halt! Moving them to the private sector allowed the government to regulate them without any conflict of interest, as there had been all the time they were nationalised

Nick Drew said...

'82 - '85: outstanding work, for which no praise too high

after that ... well, there you go

not really a tragedy in the classic sense (certainly not Shakesperian) because she was too 1-dimensional

roym said...

really remarkable how much people are getting het up over this.

im not convinced by either the joan of arc or devil incarnate narratives. how much did she owe to luck? N.Sea oil? daft argie generals?

according to Krugman there was a long lag time between reform and improved economic outcome, certainly made the medicine even more bitter for those unfortunates.

right now i think the negatives outweigh the good - poll tax, 'managed decline', inflexible, inequality, divisive, pinochet - hopefully there will be a more sober analysis in the months ahead.

Bill Quango MP said...

a collapse in the birth rate as
more women participated in the workforce -?

Where does this come from? The two things aren't exclusive. Today we have older mums, that's all.
Birth rates fall in all countries in the world as living standards and life expectancy improve.

The house price correlation is a better point. two incomes allowed more people to buy..until it became the norm.

Electro-Kevin said...

Lilith - She wasn't just right about Europe - she was right about Cruise too.

I remember being very nervous at the time of the Cold War which was underway before her Permiership. The threat of Mutually Assured Destruction was very real.

It didn't happen. The USSR failed.

She (Reagan) called it right.

Electro-Kevin said...

PS, The collapse of the USSR (delivering us safely from the brink of nuclear armagedon) may have happened because of some hardy women camping in tents at Greenham Common.

If that's so then fuck Thatcher and well done you. I'm forever in your debt.

xxx Thank you !!!

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c'est vraiment une vrai dame de fer je la respect vraiment, la période de son mandat présidentielle est une période de gloire et des réussite même si quelques fois à pris des décisions très difficiles même pour un homme mais elle a vraiment contrôler les choses et les affaires sont bien suivis leur marches sur la bonne voie.

Agence communication said...

"" Lady T. has died, age 87.
A genuine change politician. A conviction politician. A politician who utterly dominated politics and in some eyes still does.
Someone who left the nation vastly different from when she found it.
Divisive, to be sure. But, as Andrew Marr said in his History of Modern Britain,

Politically, Thatcher has made us all her children. Of the prime ministers since the war, she was the one who changed the political weather.

Reader's thoughts on the Thatcher era? ""