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merville

The Death Of Margaret Thatcher - A View From The Graveside

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Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope

These were the words that Baroness Margaret Thatcher spoke on entering Downing street. I believe that MT only fulfilled 1 out of these 4 goals during her tenure as Prime Minister. Even before the post-Thatcher era, there was the mission statement.

Alive or dead Margaret Thatcher divides our nation. A popular leadership / psychometric game is to visualise what you you would like to see on your gravestone. If this was MT's vision, how many of these goals did she accomplish? It would be easy to dismiss them all, but pragmatically MT succeeded as both a politician and a leader for 11 years until the Conservative party assassinated her. Saying that, I suspect electoral defeat was on the cards or maybe not?

Personally I think MT was a great leader and politician, but like all politicians, was hamstrung by the hidden king-makers, faceless men in grey suits, and other "dark" forces. As to her policies?

So putting political / religious rhetoric aside, how can we use this moment in history to bring healing to our nation rather than division? What mistakes can we learn? More importantly though, how can we move on? If every country has the government it deserves, where do we go from here without resorting to the vulgarities we have witnessed over the past few days and the pain of the Thatcher era?

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Start by accepting that one individual isn't the cause of everything.

But that's not in the voting options.

Agreed, I was hoping the last option was a good get out - a curse on all your houses etc ....

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I thought this was a decent assessment.

http://t.co/MsNnNzr29p

An eloquent article whose very mass of mile-high-stacked-up detail makes its total absence of reference to the state of affairs immediately before 1979 all the more telling - to the point of devastating self-refutation by silence.

Only by reading down the otherwise uniformly amen-corner comments do we finally find even a few light grudging admissions to the truly catastrophic situation MHT inherited, and against which alone her record ought to be judged.

How Alex Salmond must be wishing she'd died in September 2014 instead. However, if (against current expectations) diatribes such as this actually help the Out campaign pull it off next year, I won't find it easy to be sympathetic at the economic and even identity crisis that would likely swiftly follow.

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I thought this was a decent assessment.

http://t.co/MsNnNzr29p

I particularly agree with his comments about how luck at key moments (the Falklands War, the SDP splitting the Labour vote, the North Sea oil tax windfall) played a not insignificant role in her electoral triumphs. This was a point I which made on the main Thatcher thread. Both those who love her and loath her have a tendency to forget that like most successful politicians she had a talent for riding the tides of history rather than creating them. People also overlook that some of her greatest triumphs such as the Falklands war only happened because of previous policy f*ck ups by her government. If her administration had not been so enthusiastic in cutting back Britain's military presence in the South Atlantic in the early 1980s then Argentina would probably have not attempted an invasion. Her regime was saved by fighting a war that probably should have been avoided by a bit of forethought and some discrete sabre rattling earlier.

The point in the OP about the shadowy figures surrounding Thatcher is well made. She was groomed for power by a small coterie of influential men including Airey Neave who chose her to do a job. Once he usefulness had passed she was simply ditched. Perhaps her tragedy like most politicians of her ilk is that she came to believe her own propaganda about her special political significance and historical destiny when in truth she was expendable. As Enoch Powell once so wisely commented all great political careers are doomed to end in defeat and failure particularly if the leader hangs around too long.

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The whole 'everyone in Scotland hates her' mantra is just nonsense.

Even in the last election over 20% of the Scottish population voted conservative.

Didn't translate to actual seats though. Must be spread fairly evenly rather than in 'hotbeds' like the other parties.

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What headline fits the announcement of Mrs Thatcher’s death? Maybe that best-known misquote.

Thatcher was the only prime minister in my lifetime, and (along with Attlee) one of just two in living memory[1] to have done anything substantial and positive for the country. Like Attlee before her, she came to a country in deep crisis, and took decisive and necessary action to confront the most pressing problems of her time.

For readers too young to remember, Britain in 1979 was in the depths of a crisis not entirely unlike Greece today (imagine yourself a Greek prime minister now)! Post-war reconstruction had morphed into chronic profligacy, taxes (on everyone who worked) were astronomical, and government spending was mired in corruption. Yes, an element of that has returned today, but not on a remotely comparable scale (well, except for that deficit). Digging us out from that mess was never going to be pretty, but against all expectations she had the guts to take on that herculean task[2].

Her defining characteristic that resonated with my generation and social circle was meritocracy. Born a grocer’s daughter and brought up above the shop, she rose through life on her own merits. She had no truck with unearned privilege, and that made her many enemies amongst those with power and influence. Nor with the politics of envy that would arbitrarily “level down”. She neither supported nor attacked privilege itself, but came down hard on the abuse of privilege. An ideal role model for my cohort at Cambridge when we voted to disaffiliate from the (then-)loony-left National Union of Students and even elected a paid-up Young Conservative as president of our own students union. By her time the bastions of privilege included the trade union movement (whose leadership were of a generation brought up in a very different world and still fighting the battles of the pre-1939 era) and the institutions of the post-war state that had become corruption-magnets. Such an overprivileged leader as Blair or Cameron trying to take them on[3] would’ve been a sitting duck for class warfare.

OK, she had the advantages of her generation: an adult life in the wake of total war, meaning lots of reconstruction work to generate productive economic activity, and the demographics of “dead mens shoes” opening exceptional opportunities for a man (or more rarely a woman) of merit to rise rapidly through the corporate ladder or other walks of life. By the 1980s that window of widespread opportunity had closed to a tiny crack as a generation that hadn’t had to fight in total war were in the positions above us. She instead pushed an entrepreneurial culture, which was not easy to get to grips with for those of us who’d been brought up in an environment where a popular word for entrepreneur was ‘spiv’, and emphatically NOT something to aspire to.

She led us out of the disaster of the 1970s, but did she also lay the foundations for today’s troubles? In part I think she did. Hers is the culture (reinforced by her successors) that blames the EU for so many troubles, yet could be relied on to veto or sabotage any serious attempt to improve its institutions and practices. Housing in the 1980s was a disaster, though to be fair the worst of that was a legacy of earlier policy coming home to roost. She did (belatedly) lay the seeds for improvement and the ‘golden age’ of the mid-late 1990s, but also for the greed and profligacy that followed it (though not for the disastrous outcome).

What about the central accusation, that deregulation of the city led directly to the Blair/Brown bust? I’d say she’s guilty of that only in the sense that Attlee was guilty of the 1970s bust: a failure to anticipate that the institutions shaped in her time would grow into monsters in the hands of incompetents. The credit bubble of the 2000s that led to the bust was the very antithesis of monetarism, as is clear from a graph of money supply growth shooting up into double-digit real inflation (albeit masked by the rise of cheap manufactured imports in a meaningless price index, and creating “feelgood” by flattering GDP and other measures of national wealth).

uk-money-supply-m4-nov09.gif

I need to wrap this little piece up at some point. So let’s finish with a quote from the words of wisdom from which my title is misquoted:

… I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation …

[1] Excluding Churchill, whose greatness (such as it was) was thrust upon him by circumstance of war.

[2] Albeit with serious blind spots: she continued to pour taxpayers’ money into the bottomless pit of the car industry known at various times as British Leyland, Austin, Rover, MG, Jaguar as it came back to the taxpayer for more bailouts every few years just as it had done since the 1960s. That was indeed obvious at the time, and I can see no explanation for not letting the market work.

[3] Not that either of those disasters would’ve had the guts.

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I notice a lot of the comments in the media are made by people not old enough to remember what it was like before 1979. You need to be over 40, and most of the plonkers who think it's worth a party obviously aren't. It was dire.

Perhaps they're as bad as those generational Labour voters, saying she was 'evil' because my dad tells me she was.

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I notice a lot of the comments in the media are made by people not old enough to remember what it was like before 1979. You need to be over 40, and most of the plonkers who think it's worth a party obviously aren't. It was dire.

"Remember before 1979"? Heck, several of those death-partying plonkers with photos in the papers were quite obviously not even born before 1990!!!

Whereas that Ian Bell who wrote the linked article I briefly critiqued above, is definitely older than 40 and as such has even less excuse for pretending to assess MHT without giving any historical context at all.

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She destroyed the mining communities and walked away. I have no idea what they thought was going to happen, was enterprise just going to appear overnight? Miners suddenly going to set up Minersoft and create the next computer operating systems?

These communities have never recovered, that's the legacy she left.

Those down south who benefited from her policies clearly think she's great, those that had their lives destroyed are never going to forgive her and she did nothing to fix the problem she created.

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She destroyed the mining communities and walked away. I have no idea what they thought was going to happen, was enterprise just going to appear overnight? Miners suddenly going to set up Minersoft and create the next computer operating systems?

These communities have never recovered, that's the legacy she left.

Those down south who benefited from her policies clearly think she's great, those that had their lives destroyed are never going to forgive her and she did nothing to fix the problem she created.

Yes, and the poll tax was simply unaffordable and unfair.

As to the miners, well fair enough if the mines are unprofitable and the miners brought much of it on themselves by humiliating Callaghan in the way they did. From that point on their card was marked.

But the way the industry was destroyed was wrong. We are still paying for the fact that the north was stripped of its economic raison d'etre and nothing put in its place.

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My two pennorth

A lesson that politicians did learn was that we, the British public, like to be told that no matter how complex the problem (e.g. the long term decline of British industry), there is a simple solution (defeat the unions, close down the loss making nationalised industries). We are still lapping up the simple solutions to the financial crisis - low interest rates, leave the EU, lower wages (for others, obviously) or "more borrowing will get growth going".

A lesson that we, the public, didn't learn, is that the simplistic solution may appear to have a short term benefit but politicians do not think about or understand the long term, and we still don't question what we're told.

An example is privatisation of the utilities. This week being trumpeted as one of Thatcher's triumphs, but two weeks ago the subject of major fines levied on Scottish and Southern for unlawful actions, and before that, the subject of Cameron's fake anger for complicated tariffs.

Yes, the mining industry needed reform, but the defeat of the `miners' became the objective, not the establishment of an efficient component of a national long term energy policy.

Another example was the sell-off of LA housing. Short term benefits to some, long term detriment to the UK's housing situation because the money raised couldn't be reinvested.

And, from a personal perspective, the nationalisation of the water industry led to the most basic life need now being in the hands of foreign multinationals in a lot of the country and my workplace being closed down. Again, happy punters when it happened because they made a quick £100 on shares, but long term strategic damage.

And lastly, after MT, and a few years of John Major, we were somehow unable to see what Blair really was - we thought he was labour, so he had to be good, honest, socialist and philanthropic.

Y

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She destroyed the mining communities and walked away. I have no idea what they thought was going to happen, was enterprise just going to appear overnight? Miners suddenly going to set up Minersoft and create the next computer operating systems?

These communities have never recovered, that's the legacy she left.

Those down south who benefited from her policies clearly think she's great, those that had their lives destroyed are never going to forgive her and she did nothing to fix the problem she created.

Spot on, with the addition that she sowed the seeds of this countries present woes.

It seems, from the main thread on this, that these opinions are entrenched. Nobodies going to have their mind changed by an anon poster on a forum, so I guess we're just going to have to live with each others opinion.

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She destroyed the mining communities and walked away. I have no idea what they thought was going to happen, was enterprise just going to appear overnight? Miners suddenly going to set up Minersoft and create the next computer operating systems?

These communities have never recovered, that's the legacy she left.

Those down south who benefited from her policies clearly think she's great, those that had their lives destroyed are never going to forgive her and she did nothing to fix the problem she created.

Anyone who lived through the 1970s will have agreed that taming the unions was necessary. The problem was that the method adopted to achieve that end was essentially the economic carpet bombing of the industrial base in many parts of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North and the Midlands. It is true many of the industries were in terminal decline but the way they were slaughtered and nothing was put in its place really left whole communities struggling to survive.

Hardly surprising that many in these areas are now bitter that they were treated so brutally when it seems now almost any amount of taxpayers money is available to bail out the banks and the City of London. I suppose it just depends on which part of the country you live and what particular 'failing British industry' happens to employ you.

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Anyone who lived through the 1970s will have agreed that taming the unions was necessary. The problem was that the method adopted to achieve that end was essentially the economic carpet bombing of the industrial base in many parts of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North and the Midlands. It is true many of the industries were in terminal decline but the way they were slaughtered and nothing was put in its place really left whole communities struggling to survive.

Hardly surprising that many in these areas are now bitter that they were treated so brutally when it seems now almost any amount of taxpayers money is available to bail out the banks and the City of London. I suppose it just depends on which part of the country you live and what particular 'failing British industry' happens to employ you.

I think that Gordon Brown was in charge at that point. Did she have puppet strings to remotely operate him or something?

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All the talk over Michael Foot and Tony Benn, militant and the hard left and no one stopped a bona fide extremist taking office, adopting an extreme, ideological Chicago School economics first rolled out in fascist South American juntas.

Other major European nations had ever tougher Unions than the UK but managed not to toss industry into the rubbish bin. Norway used its oil to create a vast sovereign wealth fund. German banks backed German industry - Thatcher opened a funny money spiv casino.

Like the banking bailouts and obsession with bashing the poor today today, Thatcherism was class war with an ideological zeal a Derek Hatton couldn't even imagine. Steal fromt he poor, hand it to your cronies and use the police as your stormtroopers if the people rebel.

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A lot of industry was devastated round here. Some of it was completely hopeless (Steel works for instance where the weigh bridge men reputedly earned more than the chairman it was so badly run) but the closing of the glass blowing factories was regretted years later.

Yet, she was voted back in with thumping wins. 1983 had the Falklands factor and Labour was in disarray (Ban the bomb policy, SDP etc.), but also with a majority of over 100 seats in 1987. Areas of the Midlands with industries gone still returned Tory MPs. It was a strange time.

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I think that Gordon Brown was in charge at that point. Did she have puppet strings to remotely operate him or something?

You are seriously missing the point.

Thatcherism as a political and economic ideology was never just about the person of Margaret Thatcher or even the Tory party.

All the Parliamentary political parties bought into it to a greater or lesser extent including Labour under Blair and Brown neither of whom had any policy that could remotely designed to recreating even a part of Britain's lost industrial base. They all bought into a ponzi economy built on private debt and asset speculation where the cracks were papered over by the benefit system, the latter process being something that the Conservative administrations of the 1980s and 1990s were just as keen on fostering as Nu Lab a any cursory glance at the growth of sickness and disability benefit payments over the last 25 years will show.

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/6490/1/The_Evolution_of_Disability_Benefits_in_the_UK_Re-weighting_the_basket.pdf

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You are seriously missing the point.

Thatcherism as a political and economic ideology was never just about the person of Margaret Thatcher or even the Tory party.

All the Parliamentary political parties bought into it to a greater or lesser extent including Labour under Blair and Brown neither of whom had any policy that could remotely designed to recreating even a part of Britain's lost industrial base. They all bought into a ponzi economy built on private debt and asset speculation where the cracks were papered over by the benefit system, the latter process being something that the Conservative administrations of the 1980s and 1990s were just as keen on fostering as Nu Lab a any cursory glance at the growth of sickness and disability benefit payments over the last 25 years will show.

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/6490/1/The_Evolution_of_Disability_Benefits_in_the_UK_Re-weighting_the_basket.pdf

Thatcher did not bail out the banks [1], Gordon Brown did. This is a man who made very clear his opposition to her and to everything that she stood for. He hated her guts.

If you're saying that he 'bought into it [Thatcherism]', then presumably you would not disagree that that makes Brown a massive hypocrite?

PS The question of whether Thatcher would have bailed out the banks is an interesting question in its own right - under her own watch, she bailed out some banks, but let others fail. So who knows?

[1] She might have set events in motion that led to that disaster, but that's another debate.

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And, from a personal perspective, the nationalisation of the water industry led to the most basic life need now being in the hands of foreign multinationals in a lot of the country and my workplace being closed down. Again, happy punters when it happened because they made a quick £100 on shares, but long term strategic damage.

Margaret Thatcher didn't sell the share of the Water companies to foreign multinationals. You have your pension fund managers to thank for that. I would have liked to retain my holding in Thames Water unfortunately the minute miniscule vote my holding had was far outvoted by the institutional investors myopia.

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One place Margaret Hilda Thatcher certainly did not bring harmony was the Conservative party

Lord Tebbit got seriously off message today and mentioned the uncomfortable fact that it was not PC liberals, left wingers, Union members, the Labour party or the electorate that did her in politically but her own MPs

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/10/margaret-thatcher-debate-raw-wounds-tory-veterans

Cameron will not be inviting Tebbit round to Number 10 for tea anytime soon now that awkward truth has been aired yet again. It could seriously jeapordise the Tory PR love in he had planned for next week.

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Thatcher did not bail out the banks [1], Gordon Brown did. This is a man who made very clear his opposition to her and to everything that she stood for. He hated her guts.

If you're saying that he 'bought into it [Thatcherism]', then presumably you would not disagree that that makes Brown a massive hypocrite?

PS The question of whether Thatcher would have bailed out the banks is an interesting question in its own right - under her own watch, she bailed out some banks, but let others fail. So who knows?

[1] She might have set events in motion that led to that disaster, but that's another debate.

Well I am no lover of Gordon Brown but I very much doubt that Mrs Thatchers heirs in the Tory party would have done any differently. I certainly have not seen any sign of Osborne or Cameron imposing discipline on the Banks and there is surely no argument that the Big Bang deregulation of the City and the removal of private credit controls happened under Mrs Thatchers watch. They laid some of the seeds for what happened to the banks later. She also presided over almost as big a House Price bubble in the late 1980s as the one we saw under Gordon Brown though fortunately that one was deflated thoroughly in the 1990s under John Majors administration. I don't think Thatcher was a sophisticated economist (probably one of her better features) and she left most the financial side of government to her Chancellors so I don't wholly blame her for what happened but she did not stop it either.

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Margaret Thatcher didn't sell the share of the Water companies to foreign multinationals. You have your pension fund managers to thank for that. I would have liked to retain my holding in Thames Water unfortunately the minute miniscule vote my holding had was far outvoted by the institutional investors myopia.

True, but it was her who confiscated/stole the water industry assets from its local authority owners, who sold shares into the market at a price lower than the value and who allowed the existing chairmen to keep lucrative deals in order for them to push it though. Once in the private sector it was only a matter of time before foreign utility companies took over as far as they could. The French companies for example could not own the assets in their own country but were suddenly allowed to own the assets in this country.

If the intention really had been to give a shareholder control to the public, then limits on ownership could have been included. Still, at least you made a few quid.

Y

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  • 260 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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