Before settling down to write this piece – in what was probably a futile attempt to whet appetites – I tweeted that, “Thatcher and the Left needed each other like two drunks”, by which I meant that each used the other for support, even justification. Maybe exhausted heavyweight boxers would have been a better analogy; and if I’d used that, then it would allow me to say that socialism is down and out while Thatcherism is still standing, triumphant.
Let us cast our minds back to pre-Thatcher times. Those on the Left too young to remember seem to view this period as when the Left was powerful and we lived in a more ‘caring’ society. Bollocks! The UK was alternately ‘governed’ (I use the term very loosely) by a Conservative Party that had lost its way and an equally enervated Labour Party in hock to trade unions. The trade unions of the ‘closed shop‘ and the political levy whose power Mrs Thatcher curbed . . . and for which most people – including trade union members – were grateful. I was a union member myself, I attended meetings, and more than once I saw how ‘a dedicated few’ could take control. Resulting in trade unions pursuing political agendas subversive of democracy rather than serving the interests of their members. With trade union bosses being celebrities in their own right and big-time political players. To the stage where I used to get really pissed off with hearing some little git with a Napoleon complex mouthing off on TV and threatening to bring down a democratically elected government.
So Mrs Thatcher helped free the Labour Party and the population at large from the trade unions, but the rest of her legacy is rather more mixed in lasting value. Because if New Labour was a thoroughbred foal then its parentage would be ‘By Bilderberg out of Maggie’. For Mrs Thatcher is undoubtedly responsible for New Labour; the worst bunch of sociopaths and emotionally crippled control freaks I have known in my lifetime. That anyone could ever have believed in and trusted Blair, Mandelson and the other con men remains one of the great mysteries of modern politics. Just remind yourself of those excruciating soirees at No 10, where Tony and Cherie would try to play JFK and Jackie to assorted luvvies and ‘celebs’ . . . remember them? Just writing about it still causes me to shudder.
For her own party Mrs Thatcher was also a mixed blessing. She may have rescued the Conservatives from Ted Heath, she may have given them eighteen years of government, but she also took the party away from the grandees to make it more welcoming to the ‘aspirational’; with a less charitable interpretation being that the Conservative Party became more materialistic, abandoning the one-nation Toryism of the past and repopulating the party with the spivs and the swivel-eyed who helped gain it the soubriquet of ‘the nasty party’.
Since her death I have read so much myopic condemnation, much of it from stand-ups and spads (whose opinions I value so highly). One criticism is that many of the council properties sold to their tenants under the Right to Buy scheme are now owned by major property companies. Which may be true, but overlooks the fact that Labour had thirteen years in power to do something about that. It did nothing. Perhaps the greatest proof of her influence over New Labour is that she is still being attacked from the Left for policies and legislation that New Labour in power never thought of reversing. Or maybe it tells us that the terms ‘Labour’ and ‘the Left’ are now forever divorced. If true, then that is some achievement for the grocer’s daughter.
Other criticisms may be more justified. While I could not oppose privatising utilities on ideological grounds, replacing a State-owned monopoly with an unregulated cartel of private companies, diverting profits to major shareholders, rather than using them to improve infrastructure and reduce consumers’ bills, is no improvement at all; certainly not for the consumer, in whose name the privatisation was carried through. Furthermore, once Mrs Thatcher got the taste for privatisation it went too far. The break-up of the railway network was a disaster in more ways than one. Not only did it give us a confusing system of competing companies and separate infrastructure, it also made a mockery of privatisation by having to be regularly baled out with taxpayers’ money.
Even so, she was a towering political figure because she broke with the past and she shaped the future. Britain in 1990 was as different to Britain in 1980 as Britain in 1980 was to Britain in 1930. Britain in 2013 is still Thatcher’s creation. And in the absence of total economic meltdown leading to a collapse of social order, everyone knows there’s no going back. Of course she had help along the way; because when you can count among your opponents Callaghan, Foot, Galtieri, Kinnock, Scargill and others, then you know you were born under a lucky star. I suspect there were times when even she couldn’t believe her luck, looking at the incompetent and inadequate men she had ranged against her. With enemies like these, who needs friends?
Seeing as this is a Welsh nationalist blog I suppose I am expected to ask what Margaret Thatcher did to, or for, Wales? The answer is, not a lot. Wales may have suffered as a result of her policies, but I don’t think she was in any way anti-Welsh. I don’t think she singled us out, in the way she did the Irish and the Scots, for special treatment. If you want to find the anti-Welsh, the quislings and the traitors, it’s best to look in the Labour Party.
Yet Welsh Leftists, faux socialists and others, still use Margaret Thatcher to frighten Welsh electors – or at least, the more gullible, who vote for what they believe are socialist parties – into believing that the only defence against Thatcherism is to vote Labour, or Plaid Cymru, even Liberal Democrat. But even if Welsh Labour was a socialist party determined to roll back ‘Thatcherism’, it would be futile for Welsh people to vote Labour in Wales because the UK Labour Party is Thatcherite. Consequently, the only way Wales can truly defend itself from ‘Thatcherism’ is through independence, which of course ‘Welsh’ Labour opposes.
Margaret Thatcher’s influence on Wales may have been substantial but it was tangential and unintentional. By comparison, Labour’s damaging influence is direct and deliberate, year in year out. Who undermined the devolution referendum in 1979 – Margaret Thatcher or Neil Kinnock, George Thomas and the rest of the Labour gang? Who has been responsible for squandering the EU and other funding that has come to Wales since 2000 – Margaret Thatcher or the Labour Party and its cronies in the Third Sector? Who fought against holding the 2011 referendum on greater powers for the Assembly – Margaret Thatcher or Peter Hain and others in ‘Welsh’ Labour? For a century, the real enemy of Wales, and the biggest threat to Welsh nationhood, has been the Labour Party, which is always looking for somebody else to blame. Don’t you be deflected or distracted from the truth. Because until enough of us grasp that truth there is no hope for Wales.
24 thoughts on “Margaret Thatcher: A Personal View”
It’s probably her tenure, in ending the post-war consensus, selling off of ‘nationalised’ industries, deindustrialisation in favour of financial services, and thereby further entrenching Londoncentrism and increasing the wealth gap between South East England and everywhere else, that can be traced back as when the break up of the UK was first set in motion. So we should really be posthumously thanking the old bag.
We need a Thatcher of our own. A headstrong, no-nonsense leader willing to defend the Welsh nation and revolutionise our economy.
I cannot disagree with 90% of which I have read on this blog, However reflection on the past should be a learning process on how NOT to repeat the same old political strategies of New Labour nor the New, New Miliband handout promises. The SNP learnt this lesson years ago and are now about too win their Independence from Westminster next year. Maybe we need such friends who we can help us educate ourselves & then hopefully the people of Wales. Seek out friends , not enemies !
I wholeheartedly agree. Especially when it comes to EDUCATING OURSELVES. That is the missing key, hidden by the English education curriculum since they brought in the original Compulsory Education Act of 1870 for the UK (minus Scotland). We’ve been on a downward spiral ever since in Wales, with a linear decline in our knowledge of our own history, culture, traditions and heritage. It’s almost got to the watershed point of no return by now.
Than you Big Gee ! It appears I may have a new friend to go forward with, but I am a cautious person until shaking hands and meeting face to face.
A pleasure Victor!
I know I keep on banging on about it (and I’m sure that some will think it’s an obsession that I have about putting this link in posts! Jac could stop that by publishing it on here 😉 . But I’m convinced that there is a basic requirement that is missing, before we can move on in our struggle as a nation. It’s our self awareness & knowledge of ourselves. I’ve posted this link before – it’s an essay I wrote back in 2002 on the subject of our decline that is directly related to our education, or rather the missing bit in our education of our young ones. If you’d like to read it you can find it at: http://sccambria.com/essays/erth-add_saesneg.htm
With your self-stated interest in the subject I hope you’ll enjoy it! Perhaps the “handshaking” can take place in due course! 🙂
cheers jac, and hint taken by the way….im afraid im sometimes guilty of that tendency of welsh socialists to be over verbose….:)………and yes totally concur with your observations on new labour…..indeed arguably one of thatcher’s most durable political legacies has been ‘new labour’……im sure it was no coincidence that one of the first people tony b-liar chose to invite to downing street after his 1997 election victory was none other than Mrs T…..
There’s a limit to what I could say in one post. My intention was not to praise Thatcher but to prove that Thatcherism survives largely due to the hypocrites of New Labour. So many of those now attacking are blind to the fact that the party they support did fuck all to reverse her policies when it was in power from 1997 to 2010.
Thanks for the essay. As ever, thoughtful and well written, 8/10.
Like almost everybody commenting on this subject at the moment I didn’t know Margaret Thatcher personally, thus any comments I do make should be regarded as comments upon what was called ‘thatcherism’, as opposed to Margaret Thatcher herself. Im sure that like any human being she had her qualities….and certainly seems to have engendered genuine affection, warmth and loyalty from at least some of those who were closest to her and who knew her….there is also no denying her undoubted political skills and abilities, and in these days of ‘focus group’ and image laden politics she was a conviction politician……a politician who by and large ‘did as she said and meant what she did’, to paraphrase tony benn. Further i personally wouldnt celebrate the death of any human being and while I recognise that the reactions to her death from some on the left have been distasteful….it would also be fair to point out that some on the political right have crudely sought to use her death to try and ‘celebrate’ the triumph and supremacy of ‘thatcherism’ over other political and economic models.
I would however certainly be happy to celebrate the death of ‘Thatcherism’! Growing up in swansea in the 80s I saw at first hand the consequences of a political philosophy which placed personal greed and self advancement over everything else…. a political creed that saw the emergence of the biggest gap between rich and poor in modern times….a political creed that used mass unemployment as a political weapon and which resulted in wales in a generation of young people being condemned to the scrap heap…along with entire communities too. This excellent analysis of thatcher’s term in office – using evidence provided from the politically neutral ‘office of national statistics’ and ‘british political facts’ – gives a good account of exactly what thatcher did and didnt achieve
And it certainly lays to rest the myth that she somehow worked some kind of economic miracle …she did nothing of the kind…..all she ultimately did was to give a massive leg up to the role of the city of london and finance capital in the uk’s economy…..the so called ‘casino economy’, while allowing indeed deliberately bringing about the huge decline of its manufacturing and industrial base……..including using the entire machinery of the state (judges, police, laws, the intelligence services and (unofficially) the army against welsh miners and steelworkers. Along with introducing some of the harshest anti trade union laws outside of pinochet’s fascist chile.
And of course it was her deregulation of the city in the 80s – the big bang – which ultimately helped pave the way for the collapse of the banks two decades later …..a catastrophe which we are all now paying for and it appears will be for years to come… oh she also flogged off the essential utilities at rock bottom prices…and if people are complaining about the massive profits private energy companies make every winter we have Mrs T to thank for that too. Yes her policy of virtually giving away council housing under the ‘right to buy’ was certainly popular with some working class people but her deliberate policy of not allowing councils to then replace their depleted housing stocks has left a disastrous legacy ………tho to its eternal shame newlabour actually continued this policy – by trying to bribe councils to off load their remaining housing stocks (newlabour didn’t repeal any of her anti union laws either of course)
She was of course also guilty of a major war crime, giving the order to sink the belgrano when it was sailing away from the Malvinas……condemning hundreds of mainly young argentinian conscripts to watery deaths in the process….and also ensuring that a peace plan drawn up by the Americans was scuppered……’peace’ of course being the last thing she wanted. As she knew by this time in her premiership that only a ‘good war’ would save her tottering premiership. And those welsh soldiers who perished or who were maimed for life on the Sir Galahad a month after she gave the order to sink the belgrano have mrs t to thank for that. Also surprised jac that you ommitted to mention the fact that the british state operated a shoot to kill policy against republicans in Ireland on her watch…..and then deliberately undermined the investigation by john stalker into it!
Yes she was certainly ‘lucky’ in many respects…she had north sea oil to help pay for the huge unemployment her economic policies caused in non tory voting parts of the uk…..she was also extremely fortunate that her main political opposition spent the early part of her premiership literally tearing itself apart. Indeed without the emergence of the sdp it’s entirely possible that 1979 would have been her only outright general election victory and she might have been a one term prime minister. However amongst all the hectic rewriting of history that has taken place in recent days it shouldn’t be forgotten that towards the end of her premiership she was losing her ‘midas touch’…….she was trounced by kinnock in the 1989 euro elections, doggedly stuck to the disastrous and iniquitous poll tax and most certainly would have lost the subsequent british general election had her own cabinet and party colleagues not bundled her out of office in November 1990.
Given the terrible impact of her policies on many people in wales it would be fair to say that when in office she was hated by many people in wales, and while I wouldn’t anticipate street parties being held all over wales on the day of her funeral it’s a incontestable fact that there are still many of us in wales who will express no sadness at her death and who will never forgive her for the misery her social darwinist political and economic philosophy caused to people right across Wales.
In a perverse sort of way however we do perhaps in part have thatcher to thank for wales finally embracing a degree of devolved government – its certainly true that it was not long into her premiership that quite a few people in welsh labour were regretting their disgraceful part in opposing (and in some cases sabotaging) the 1979 referendum campaign. Among these being a certain Ron Davies who changed his views on welsh devolution after reading some graffiti in Caerphilly shortly after the 1983 general election which read “we voted labour….but got thatcher”…..tho in truth however there is not much in labour’s model of devolution for wales that would have stopped the thatcher government doing exactly as it wanted in wales had devolution existed then ….just as there’s sadly not a great deal the current senedd can do to prevent the appalling policies being implemented by the Cameron government being imposed on wales…..policies incidentally which are far in excess of anything thatcher carried out…..again largely courtesy of welsh labour’s timid model of devolution for wales.
AMEN! Absolutely excellent post Leigh – I wish I had written every word of that! I certainly agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said so eloquently. You just can’t hide or distort the facts of history when they are laid bare like that. Brilliant.
I actually lived in the Rhondda when the miners strike was on, and my neighbour next door but one was using his house and garage as a food parcel distribution centre, where people brought cardboard boxes of food to give to striking families. It was something I won’t forget. At the time, the strike didn’t affect me personally because I was running my own electronics company and doing very well. However the impact of living amongst and seeing others suffer, and still suffering like that, had a huge impact on the way I see things. People can talk about it, and pontificate about it from a distance, but when you see it that close up it has a different effect. That’s why I get so annoyed listening to this sweetened & glazed over talk about ‘her’ this week.
Never mind street parties and songs about witches being in bad taste, it’s the glossing over of the true facts about the suffering caused by her that is distasteful to me. That’s why I will never forgive the Tories or the so called Socialists for the way they continually treat ordinary poor people with such contempt. That’s why I’m a Patriot & my political hero to this day is Fidel Castro – who was also a patriot and lover of his people & country first and any other political pigeon-hole that others wanted to put him in second.
The reality though is that everything she put in place was to advance the “haves” in London & the south east at the expense of the “have nots” throughout the rest of these islands. One thing those sorts of people have in common is that they have absolutely zero sympathy or empathy for anyone, because to them, low paid workers kept on a short leash are a commodity for them to exploit in order to fatten their bank accounts (another Darwinist outlook on life). They got the taste for it when they carted slaves to the West Indies a few hundred years ago. It’s been brought into acute focus during Thatcher’s years, and then followed on by the Pink Tories’ reign and now the posh boy millionaires in the Westminster corridors.
Suddenly it’s not shameful to be greedy, exploitative & self centred – after all it’s the fault of the scroungers behind closed curtains when the martyrs go to work isn’t it? Shameless bankers and stockbrokers are the flag-bearers of that mob.
We need to start governing ourselves using a different set of rules based on hard work, justice and above all a proper social conscience. Leave the Anglo Saxon system to its own devices – that’s why I said earlier that we are wasting our time getting sucked into this hyped up drivel of a debate.
This is what the journalist Allistair Heath had to sa abpit Thatcher and Labour re-mining:
“Far more miners lost their jobs in the 1960s, especially under Labour’s Harold Wilson – and far more mines shut – than in the 1980s. In 1960, 605,000 miners produced 196.7m tonnes of coal. By 1970, 289,000 miners produced 144.7m tonnes; by 1979-80, 235,200 miners extracted 123.3m tonnes. By the time she left office, 62,000 miners extracted 91.6m tonnes.”
True, and it says a lot about the NUM, that it went along with Labour closing mines but started trouble when Tories tried to do the same. So was it really about the miners or was it all political?
Both. You can’t cherry pick specific reasons. There were composite reasons for the conflict that reflected what was happening throughout society & how it felt in the late seventies & eighties – not just within the mining industry. Miners believed they were fighting a greater cause for the wider many (rightly or wrongly with hindsight).
The general feeling amongst the working classes in the sixties was that their lot was improving. ‘Her’ policies made the common man in the street feel that we were regressing back to the Victorian “poor” period. Much in keeping with the general depression amongst the worst off right now, that’s being generated again by the Posh Boy Millionaires in london
The arguments on here are a debate on the better of various evils. The problem is, ALL London based parties (regardless of colour, current policies or past histories) are an evil for our colonised country. There should not be room to debate the good or bad of English parties – regardless of the “Welsh” tag they put in front of their name. None of them or their political models belong here. Arguably the only current (valid) party of Wales is Plaid and god knows what a pathetic bunch of socialists maggots lurk in there, mostly aping their big socialist heroes in London. They are not a party OF Wales. We don’t have one that properly represents us or our collective interests.
What we should be positively writing about is how we can banish the English parties from our land, and how we can get on with the job of getting rid of red Plaid with something that is truly representative of our nation and none other.
As for Thatcher – who cares a flying fig about her past or present? She’s dead & now starting to stink I guess – let’s move on. The same applies to Kinnock, Scargill & all the other trash. Why on earth bring her & them up on here Jac? It just fuels their self proclaimed status. Don’t you think there’s already enough shite being poured out on the subject without us adding our weight to it? I really thought we might have done the sensible thing and just shut up, Wait for the funeral (that we the common moron will pay for) and look forward to getting back to the battle proper.
I’m totally pissed off with hearing this pointless mulch from all directions on a daily basis. It was her turn to shaft us in the eighties, it’s now someone else’s turn, but shafted we get – regardless of whose turn it is to do it. And what are we doing? Debating the good & bad of past & present English shafters in Ing-er-land..
Calm down, calm down. It’s topical and I had something to say. So I said it.
Gwir Gelyn Cymru yw’r Blaid Lafur. / The true enemy of Wales is the Labour Party.
Good points, as far as I recall my cousins and uncles who worked in the mining industry hated Scargill just as much as they hated Maggie.
She didn’t care about Wales… but then the 1979 referendum showed that Wales didn’t care about itself. We were willing to accept our status as an English appendage and deserved everything we got.
Scargill was not a popular man in Wales. He chose the wrong fight at the wrong time and he did it without balloting NUM members. He may have been right about planned closures, but he threw away a good hand.
Wow – diolch Jac! Sense and a Welsh perspective on the subject of Thatcher.
You forgot to add in your list of “bad stuff that has happened because of anti-Thatcherism” the complete refusal of Plaid to countenance a “rainbow alliance” in the last Assembly – a government that had it worked (OK, I accept that the LibDem involvement might have made it shortlived and messy!) could have changed the face of Wales and Welsh politics.
The thing is that Thatcher did a great work for England, if you see it in purely economic terms. The UK was a basket case, with democratically elected governments at the whim of the “suits who claimed not to be” who ruled the unions. When you see them now, banging on about “The working class” and “The one percent” as they take home their executive salaries for causing problems, you have to be relieved that they are not in power.
The problem is, Thatcher did everything she could for the economic advantage of the majority. If you needed something that wasn’t economically advantageous (the continunation of your language, for instance) then you could go whistle. If you weren’t in the majority (eg if you were one of 3 million, rather than the 50 odd million of England) then you weren’t on the radar. That is Thatcher’s legacy in Wales – a total disregard, leading to a massive collapse of well-being.
In fact, Pastw Iestyn, it could be said that rather than the miners or any other union representing democracy, Thatcher was as democratic as you can get. The (theoretical) good of the majority was everything, and any minority (for instance, I would imagine that union members are a minority) who might have harmed the good of the majority, however justified their reason, were trampled and forgotten.
I’m wondering if Pastw was actually around in the 70s, seems to me he’s been taken in by fairy stories ….the Unions defending democracy, oh dear.
Best article yet. He was there. Half these chicken shits were a sperm when she was in power. Well done Jac.
Yes. Your message re Labour is true, but open to bedragglement, because when someone says he is in support of privtisation then lists the evils of privatiastion in the same sentence, who will listen to your message? The unions represented those hwo built and sustained – and paid for – the State. The chaos of the 70s was a result of the unions’ defence of democracy. The subsequent war on the miners was an assault on democracy and seizure of power on behalfd of the rich. By ‘Welsh nationalism’ I takeit to mean the broad church mis-nomered so? Excuse me, but we republicans, libertarians, non-Nationalist patriots and independence supporters do not want a nationalist state or a capitalist fiefdom, but a free Wales run by the people for the people NOT shareholders’ bank accounts. An independent Wales is what we want – a platform for REAL freedom – not YOUR models and “ideology”! Who the hell told Thatcher our natural resources and services were her’s to sell? They were ours, paid for through our taxes.
Privatisation, had it been done properly, would have given us a number of companies trying to outdo each other on service and price. All to the benefit of the consumer. We ended up with utilities cartels because of the legislative failure to enforce vigorous competition. Due largely to the influence of the City.
Wales has been exploited for her resources irrespective of which party is in power in London. This is not an ideological thing, this is national. An independent Wales run by socialists would be little better than it is today because they’d be forever legislating in favour of the beloved English proletariat . . . cheap water, etc., etc. An independent Wales will only work for the benefit of our people when we have nationalists in control who put Welsh interests above all else.
If you don’t put the interests of the Welsh people first then you have no right to call yourself a nationalist, a patriot, or anything other than a Brit who would perpetuate our colonial relationship with England under the fig leaf of a different constitutional arrangement.
Excellent post Jac, a welcome relief from some of the Westboro Baptist wannabes I’ve been reading lately.
Absolutely correct in that the Labour Party is the quisling party and should be the main enemy of all those who care about Wales. Calling them out and identifying them for what they are should be the main task of Plaid Cymru and that party’s lack of success is due to their failure to confront Labour.
For all her errors and mistakes I believe Maggie Thatcher to have been an English patriot and as such I respect her, as I do all those who stand up for their country and refuse to sell it out.