I have only dim memories of Margaret Thatcher. After all I was living in New Zealand at the time. I do remember her alliance with Ronald Ray-Gun (as our fourth form social studies teacher called him) and her rather steely voice. Arriving in the UK in the early 90s her work was done, and Mr Grey-tie had taken over. She was forced out over the council tax I think, but it could have been any number of things. Like Roger Douglas in New Zealand, she made a lot of enemies.
Mrs (now Lady) Thatcher became PM in a country that had lost its way and was spiraling downwards in the grip of failing industry, massive taxes and union muscle. She left a country which had regained its confidence and success.
Lady Thatcher is hated by by the left, not least the unionists and socialists who felt her glare and whose orgy of power and spending was brought to such an unexpected and brutal halt. Even the word Thatcher is enough to get many of these people spitting and changing colour in the face. Just have a read of this article in the Guardian (written by someone who was about 20 when she was elected PM) to get a feel for that. He is trying to be nice.
The result was dramatic, not only in the huge boost to inequality and the income of the well-off, but also in the US-style decline in the share of GDP going to wages and salaries – which fell from a peak of 65% in 1975 to 53% last year – as corporate profits swelled.
(clever how he brings in the words US, profits, corporate and inequality all in one sentence - this is code for "I am talking about something very bad")
Most who lived through the time have respect for what Mrs Thatcher did - here is a comment I found which covers the ground:
This is the lady that saved our country from the dustbin. Hard decisions were made,not all right, but our country was stronger and richer for her efforts. Right now a "forever young" Maggie is what we need to put right a decade or so of waste, mismanagement and failed social engineering suffered by our country by this futile Labour government.
As it is 30 years ago that her government came to power, there is quite a bit of comment in the media.
Boris Johnson (now mayor of London) writes:
She gave people the confidence to buy shares, to start their own businesses, to move on and up in society – and there was more social mobility under Margaret Thatcher than there has been since. She was a liberator, and she gave the Labour party such an intellectual thrashing that they ended up changing their name
Margaret Thatcher will always divide the British people, not least since we are ourselves divided. There is a part of us that will always dislike the acquisitive, appetitive instincts she seemed to espouse, and yet we also recognise that they are essential for economic success. More than any leader since Churchill, she said thought-provoking things about the relationship between the state and the individual. Some of them were unpalatable, some of them were exaggerated. But much of what she said was necessary, and it took a woman to say it.
Acres of newsprint has been expended in looking back on her legacy. Just look at the Google news search today.
But the real point of this post is how desperately Britain needs her today. This place needs a serious re-vamp. Massive amounts of cash seems to just vanish into the government with nothing appearing in return. A London council pays $30k per month (yes per month!) to house a family of 7 who can't afford their own home. Huge petrol taxes appear unable to reduce congestion on the roads and instead signs have been erected to advise of delays. Good schools are full, leaving only the private (and eye-wateringly expensive) option. Councils are as out of control as ever, full of loony money-sinking schemes. Light bulbs are to be banned. Trains are unaffordable. Even the Polish are leaving.
Perhaps the picture is not so bleak as painted in this speech in 1979 because the election:
The report from the Confederation of British Industry is that many firms are being strangled. There is a shortage of materials. They cannot move their own products. Exports are being lost. It says that secondary picketing, picketing of firms not in dispute, is very heavy all over the country. It is particularly affecting such items as packaging materials and sugar and all vital materials necessary if industry is to keep going. Lay-offs known to the CBI are at least 125,000 already, and there are expected to be 1 million by the end of the week. There are telegrams and telexes from many companies saying that their exports are not being allowed through and that they might lose the orders for ever.
There are messages from firms such as Marks and Spencer which last week lost 20 per cent. of its food production, approximately £2 million. Unless secondary pickets are removed this week the estimate is of a 30 per cent. loss. Over last week and this week and this week, unless there is a change, the company says that it will not shift 50 per cent. of its exports.
But it is bleak.
And I'm sorry, but David Cameron (not that I have seen him on TV yet, er actually perhaps I should start watching TV) appears more interested in traipsing around after silly environmentalist causes than laying down the law.
Come back Margaret Thatcher, all is forgiven.