Wizard is probably right, this could easily become a stale old left - right row so I'll try and be a little more original in my reply.
Thatcher wasn't quite as history has protrayed.
(That applies, IMO, to the 'left' and 'right's' perspective.)
'Thatcherism' wasn't even her idea.
Originally it was people like Keith Joseph, Airey Neive and Geoffrey Howe that 'invented' Thatcherism in the late 1960's. She became the front for
this 'radical conservative' approach.
The key for this approach was to tackle the 'power' of organised labour (small 'L') in the UK.
Hence the sustained attack on the trade unions.
I was 16 when Thatcher came to power in 1979 and 27 when she left in 1990. I remember it well.
For those who think she set the UK on the road to 'success' I won't disagree entirely but I don't think it was all her doing either and I am
convinced that on balance she probably did far more harm than good.
I see it as a balance.
It had probably gone too far in one direction when the tory party were first elected in 1979 but by the time she left office (and certainly after
Major took over the conservative gov) it had gone too far in the other.
From an unhealthy dominance of organised labour to an unhealthy dominance of 'ownership' and management.
Too far in either direction ultimately becomes self-defeating.....as the tory party have found out to their cost.
They can thank Thatcher for laying the foundations of their being out of power for 2 generations +.
One trouble with it all was that a callous disregard for the effects of policy characterised what was happening.
'If it isn't hurting it isn't working' and 'Je ne regret rien' (whilst unemployment was in the 10%, 3million+ range) was the kind of crass tory
mentality people would not forget in a hurry.
Right-wing macho nutcases were pretty rife talking as if the entire country could just "get on their bikes" and instantly become 'loadsamoney's';
'hooray-Henry's' or 'yuppies' in London 'in the city' (financial markets) just because some did so.
It was a great time to be well off or part of a new industry or be able to afford to make a quick buck in shares (especially the knock-down price
ex-nationalised industry ones.....which we, the public, were supposed to own already anyway), tough luck if you were in an 'old industry,
'ordinary' or less well off.
We saw a level of division and a growing disparity thanks to her policies......policies which right from the start very deliberately destroyed jobs
and livings to 'cow' the workforce and subdue the trades unions.
(Until even Thatcher was persuaded that Milton Friedmans' 'monetarism' was never going to deliver what it promised and 'work'; the over-valued
£ - kept artificially high by high interest rates - was simply destroying the UK's manufacturing base.
They let it destroy around 20% before they changed course though.
Even the Luftwaffe didn't manage that in 1940/41.)
I was pretty sure it had all finally collapsed in the UK the day I saw miners being cheered on by the well healed middle and upper classes in places
like Knightsbridge and Chelsea during the final ghastly fag-end of Majors time.
Unbelievable but true.
It finally dawned on people that whilst they might not have had much of a liking for Arthur Scargill & Co. the truth was that the future Scargill had
warned of was actually, contrary to the official line, a gross under-estimate
of the devastation these people had planned for an entire
industry and several regions of the country.
In the begining it had seemed ok to the middleclasses to be indifferent to the catastrophe happening to the working classes; afterall 'they'
were, apparantly, long over due a 'shake-up' what with their 'spainish practises' etc etc, or so the propaganda of the time would have had us all
(The shameless wrapping themselves in the flag post-Falklands and the implication that anyone not tory was a traitor was incredible - but, true to
form, something they did to embarrassing death in the end.
Michael Portillo's ridiculous 'don't mess' 1995 'SAS speech' at tory party conference was just typical of how detached and drunk with power they
had become and how some of them thought they were to be the UK gov from now until the end of time!)
When the final effects of that 'ideology' were seen finally to come back and bite the middleclasses themselves (with the tragedy of the 1st terrible
recession not actually 'solving' anything, the UK not over-taking the German economy afterall and a terrible 2nd recession not confined to the
working class but the middle classes with record home repossessions etc) they learned to despise the Brtish conservative party and have felt disgust
for them pretty much ever since.
Witness the last general election. A 0.5 - 0.6% increase in their vote has them going nowhere.
In large past thanks to Mrs T and the version of conservatism she established.
Some tories are (still) so unrealistic as to imagine it is all nothing to do with her and have lost all memory of why it was her own that ditched her
so ruthlessly. Some seriously imagined a returning 'Queen across the water' for long into the 1990's; something else that did little to help
Major's torrid time as PM.
I suppose politics is about myth as much as fact to some degree anyway and no doubt Tony Blair will have a huge raft of myth created about him when he
Especially as he will probably leave when he has beaten Thatcher's modern record as PM for 11yrs 209 days.
The longest serving PM in modern times (for 160yrs I believe) will be a Labour PM, had the tories not blown it so disasterously it would have been the
tory Mrs T; politicians 'go' for that kind of thing.
Still, the social division she helped create and foster along with the nurturing of a quasi-US culture here will be with us some time yet.
(The irony; a 'conservative' who actually did more to 'Americanise' and turn Britain upside down than most, some conservatism. No wonder America
and particularly the American right-wing likes her so much.
Sadly her loopy ideas about Europe still hold sway for so many too.
Likewise the entire 'the rich can get away with paying nothing towards the society they live in if they have even a barely competent accountant'
ethos......which has served to breed a culture of everyone wanting to avoid all taxes, yet reap the benefits of a civillised cohesive society.
Lastly there was the embarrassing build-up to her ejection by her own party.
She always was a fine example of that wierd petty bourgeois, lower middleclass, chip on her shoulder, vicious and ruthlessly streaked, oddball
(sexless? .....ok some found her sexy but mostly the unusual upperclass dominatrix/nanny/mother lovers, surely?) Brit but her "We are a grandmother"
was the classic line that announced to the entire world that she had publicly, finally and very definitely lost it.
The one thing I would say unreservedly on the 'plus' side of the balance is (like Reagan) that she recognised the new possibilities first and
constructively helped ease relations (after a hard-line start) between east and west.
She was the first to publicly say positive things about Gorbachev and helped convince Reagan Gorbachev was a genuine man 'the west could do business
(Pity the west's ultimate response - thanks to our then mania for right-wing economics - was really neither one thing nor the other and helped give
rise to the Russian mafia, but that's another story.)
........and for those convinced that there has been a load of dodgy goings on over Iraq and what Tony Blair agreed to go along with and when I would
suggest a little thought about the 'Falklands war'.
Very handy timing that, hmmmmm?
Thatcher was all set to be out on her ear in the general election due in '83 or '84 as the tories were polling (then) record lows in the 20%
It has often puzzled me how come the removal of the patrol ship HMS Endurance (the act that triggered the war) has not featured in any serious
Argentinians themselves (in their memoirs) state that it was this move that triggered their actions.
But most seriously of all the matter had been considered by the British gov in the mid 1970's (only a couple of years before, then) and the then
gov decided not to withdraw the ship exactly because they believed such a move would encourage an armed Argentine response regarding the
Over 200 British servicement died in that action which it seems Thatcher is to be regarded as a heroine for when I am far from convinced it was
anything other than a cynical exploitation of the predictable response of a failing military junta and it's very 2nd division armed forces (handful
of exocets or no).
As for Neville Chamberlain being one of our "worst ever" I think this is way too simplistic and harsh a judgement.
I suggest that those who did not live through the horrors of WW1 can have little clue.
The fact that many saw the post WW1 German complaints and demands as reasonable (certainly to begin with.......imagine if the USA had been forced to
give up territory etc etc) is part of it but the deep desire to never repeat the catastrphic experience along with the genuine difficulty to believe
Hitler & Co. really were what they were and would risk it all again is IMO perfectly understandable and far from the traditional 'image' of NC.
NC's problem was to live to face a Hitler; until then he had been a very able and popular Prime Minister.
Then again I doubt many would have fared better. Churchill was a great war time leader (his 'blessing' from 'time') but had he come along pre-war
he would just as likely have been a big disaster in domestic politics (as he had been before) and not gotten the country ready as NC and others did,
just in time.
As for Europe?
The fact that Germany (the 'engine economy' of Europe and the EU) has been absorbing the old East German state is the reason for Europe's current
torpor; it has absolutely nothing to do with a so-called 'socialist' approach (and as the state share of the German and French economy has fallen in
the last decade how on earth can anyone claim the contrary?).
Lastly Lord North.
Clearly a man who made some disasterous mistakes (and who the King held onto to take the blame once the possible scale of disaster became known).
But the 'problems' in the American colonies was probably unavoidable whoever was in charge; granted they could have been handled better but
nevertheless no matter how you try to dress it up and pretend it is something else you can't really stand in the way of a genuine mass movement for
independance (as the Americans themselves were to forget to their cost many years later in SE Asia).
Anyhoo domestically North had the Gordon riots.
Thatcher had several outbreaks of rioting across the country too.
We had inner city riots in the early 1980s in Liverpool, London, Bristol, Birmingham, Luton, Reading, Hull, Preston etc etc.
We had the riots during the Miners strike across the country (and accompanying curtailing of our rights to free travel thanks to the Police stopping
people on mere suspicion as they moved around the country).
We had riots at the US cruise missile bases.
We also had riots during the Poll Tax fiasco, mainly in London but which, even so, provoked the biggest mass civil disobedience (through non-payment)
the UK has seen in centuries.
Originally posted by Off-the-Street
Normally I wouldn't discuss UK politics with a Brit, since I'm pretty ignorant of them, but that doesn't stop most of the Brits who are ignorant of
American politics from discussing them, so what the hey.
- I don't get that idea at all.
Surely the idea is to exchange views here.
Since when has that precluded those not living in a particular place giving a view on it?
Surely the only point might be that one makes it known where one is from so that there is no pretence going on.
I'm interested in the international view of my country; IMO it would be a disaster for these boards if only people from the US ever talked about the
US and ditto Europe and the UK.
That is surely against the whole point of this place?
Full enough answer for you's?
[edit on 17-6-2005 by sminkeypinkey]