When I was working for Her Majesty’s Government, I was told Margaret Thatcher insisted that briefing had to comprise no more than a single side of A4; otherwise she would not read it. So (and also so as not to bore the pants off you chaps), I will stick to Thatcher’s diktat in summarising my view of The Old Bat.
Thatcher set out to cause division and to destroy consensus and she succeeded. The reaction to her death is testament to that. She remarked that there is no such thing as society - an indication that she did not recognise that outside her world, there were other views that were equally valid, nor did she appreciate the interdependencies between people and within communities. There was only her conviction that she was right. It did not matter if three million people were employed and entire communities had been shattered. As she saw it, there needed to be a shakedown of the industrial sector so Sheffield’s steel-based manufacturing, for example, had to go. She wanted to break the political power of the Unions, and particular of the NUM, so the mines had to be closed. If there is no such thing as society, then there’s nothing for Unions and manufacturing to be part of. Perhaps, unconsciously or not, Thatcher saw society and the concept of consensus as something to do with ‘Socialism’: to her, A Great Evil.
She had the blinkered view that to control inflation the money supply must be limited and did this rather crudely by increasing interest rates. This had the effect of causing businesses to go bust as many often operate on an overdraft to maintain cash flow. There certainly were inefficiencies in the economy, but these were as much due to poor management and lack of investment as they were to Union belligerence. But the Unions took all the blame.
Whether through incompetence or design, Thatcher allowed the Falklands War to happen; a conflict that was entirely avoidable. But she thrived on conflict and used the Falklands to generate a wave of patriotism that she could exploit electorally. She consigned hundreds to their deaths - she was the only beneficiary.
Thatcher did not ‘win’ three elections. Callaghan threw away his chance by delaying until May 1979; Labour shot itself (in the Foot) in 1983; and the SDP split the vote in 1983 and 1987.
Prior to Thatcher, education and health policies inter alia were arrived at by consensus and politicians would listen to professionals. She rejected this and imposed ‘market forces’, for example, school league tables and privatised services. Privatisation of social housing and utilities meanwhile meant that some individuals made short term gains – but society as a whole lost as there is now a shortage of housing and the utilities are making vast profits whilst services have not improved.
Thatcher deregulated the financial markets – the ‘Big Bang’ - ushering in the era of casino banking that produced the ‘credit crunch’ and the necessity for the State to bail out the banks. Society as a whole consequently now has to pay for the recklessness of the Thatcherite few.
[See also Annexes A001 to A194: Hillsborough, Pinochet, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Section 28 homophobia, Peter Wright Spycatcher, Censorship of Irish Republicans, Free School Milk, GCHQ, Mis-spent oil revenues, Poll Tax, Immigration, GLC, and many more. Further diatribes available on request.]