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MPs must surely (if respectfully) DEBATE the Thatcher legacy today, not merely pay tribute

Posted on 10 April 2013 | 7:04am

If there is one thing Margaret Thatcher liked it was a good argument; and if there was one place where she felt those arguments should be held, it was in the House of Commons.

So whilst it is right and proper that MPs pay genuine respect to her strengths and achievements in Parliament today, and express sadness at her passing, it would be wholly wrong if MPs who disagreed with her policies and the impact of them upon their constituents and the wider world felt unable to say so.

There is something very peculiar about death in Britain. I heard the news of Mrs Thatcher’s demise in Scotland, and then spent several hours driving south listening to hour upon hour of glowing tribute. Colleagues of hers who, when I was a journalist, would happily confide how much she made their blood boil, queued to say how marvellous she was. Those who helped bring her down because she had become hugely unpopular with the public – the fact she was forced from office seems to have been little mentioned in the last two days – rushed to tell us how amazingly popular and in tune with public opinion she had been.

Nobody should speak ill of the dead, and the parties and dancing in the streets were offensive and misplaced. But nor should anyone condone hypocrisy, and hypocrisy comes when people say not what they believe, but what they believe they ought to say.

Partly this is about form, and about necessary respect for a dead person and that person’s family. But when it comes to political figures as important as Margaret Thatcher, I think there should be more balance in the assessment than has so far been coming through the media. Just as she liked a good argument, so she disliked hypocrisy, and it would do the Commons and her memory no good if today MP upon MP lined up merely to say how marvellous she was.

Of course, as a Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron will and indeed should emphasise her strengths and achievements, and laud her memory for all it is worth. As Labour leader, Ed Miliband – who got the tone right on the day her death was announced – has perhaps a trickier task. He has to do all that too, but he must also reflect the reality that she was a divisive figure, and that her legacy is far from being an unalloyed success.

And frankly, if Parliament is to mean anything, on a day like today, MPs should not just be allowed, but should be expected, to say what they think, without the Tory and/or right-wing media hysteria that may emerge if they do not go along with the mood of the moment.

Many of my memories of her come from my time as a journalist covering her rise and fall. She was elected as I sat my finals at university. By the time she was gone I was political editor of the Daily Mirror, and in between times, I had followed her around the world, written about her with all the passion I could muster, working for a paper whose editorial line, in common with my own views, opposed so much of what she did. But as I said on Monday, she was one hell of a story to work on, and she was also one of the few real change Prime Ministers.

So yes she is a huge historic figure. And precisely because of that, even as the funeral is still being planned, there should be a proper and not sentimental debate about her.

There is a lesson for Labour in the broadly positive media and political response to her death. Tories never tire of talking up their past. This is not an act of vanity, but strategy. To have a generation unborn at the time of the Winter of Discontent still vaguely aware of it speaks volumes for the Conservative Party’s disciplined use of history as a political tool. To have a young generation today being bombarded with messages about how marvellous she was is good for the Conservative Party tomorrow; and they know it.

Labour, by contrast, has a habit of running down its own past and its own history. We have seen too much of that in recent years. Tony Blair won three elections, presided over the peace process in Northern Ireland, helped rid the world of murderous dictators like Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, saved our schools and hospitals from remorseless decline under the Tories, delivered devolution, the minimum wage, ten years of growth and prosperity, Bank of England independence, Sure Start, on and on I could go. Yet to hear a lot of Labour figures, and the media echo chamber, his record was a negative one.

Margaret Thatcher was capable of making life difficult for her successors. But they never stopped talking her up. Partly because they felt she deserved it. But also because it was good for them.

I know I am not alone in being unsettled by the scale of the funeral arrangements, and, following on from the snub to Labour Prime Ministers at the wedding of William and Kate, the Royal presence. The Royals represent and embody the State. Politicians represent their parties and some get to lead their country. The case for a State funeral for Winston Churchill did not even need to be made. There is not a person alive who does not believe he helped to save the UK. But Margaret Thatcher’s role and record is not so clear.

David Cameron says she ‘saved the economy.’ But for many parts of Britain, people and communities feel she destroyed it, and abandoned families in her wake.

Yes, she can point to a historic role in saving the Falklands from Argentina, and even more significantly in working with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War and bring down the Berlin Wall. But her role in defending dictators like Pinochet, and her support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, deny her the right to be free from criticism on the foreign policy front. And some of that criticism, amid all the respect and sadness, must surely be heard in the Commons today.

I mentioned I was in Scotland when I heard she had died. Later that day, I was in Manchester for the football. There was quite a dissonance between the mood and reaction on the airwaves, and the things people were saying, the memories they were recalling, in those places. They are part of history too, and their anger and criticisms should not be airbrushed from it.

There is one other point I want to make. Yes, she was the dominant figure of her generation. Yes, Tony Blair shifted the Labour Party to the centre in part as a response to the success of her politics. And she may well have said, on being asked what her greatest success was, ‘Tony Blair.’ But she would never have devolved power to Scotland, (remember the poll tax?) brought in the minimum wage, taken the risks (and yes I understand why she hated the Republicans) needed to bring peace to Northern Ireland, etc etc. Tony once made a speech acknowledging her strengths and some of the necessary changes to Britain that she made. But he said too that she paid insufficient regard to the social consequences of her economic policies, that she did not invest sufficiently in schools and hospitals, and had a misguided and muddled approach on Europe. All true.

He hugely admired her strength. ‘God she is so strong,’ I recorded him saying in my diaries after one of her visits to see him in Downing Street. But a lot of what Labour did was to repair the impact of Thatcherism, not build upon it.

And if the Tory leaders who have followed her were being totally honest, they would admit there have been times when she has been their problem, not their solution. Remember that David Cameron felt he had to run not as the heir to Thatcher, but the heir to Blair, and indeed felt he had to invent the idea of The Big Society as a direct antidote to her – admittedly often misquoted – line that there is ‘no such thing as a society.’

So I stand by the only thing I have said so far – a short tweet on Monday, saying she was a great politician to follow as a journalist, and a real change PM (a tweet, incidentally, which led to me getting a fair bit of abuse from those who felt I was being too soft and soppy.)

But I do not resile from the many harsh words I wrote about her as a journalist, nor the way that we used her unpopularity, and her impact upon successive Tory leaders, to win three elections. Remember the poster that helped do for William Hague. A picture of him with Margaret Thatcher’s hair and a slogan … ‘vote Labour on Thursday, or they get in.’ It worked because whatever good Thatcherism did, it did a lot of bad too, and people did not want it back.

I respect Margaret Thatcher enormously as someone who knew what she believed and fought tirelessly to put those beliefs into action, through a life of public service. But it does her memory no good for any of us, least of all the MPs who speak today, to pretend there is only one side to the Thatcher story. Parliament should pay proper respect today. But all sides of that story should be told.

  • ZintinW4

    Why are the left so green? The Tories are using Thatcher’s death as a celebration of their ideology. Why should we allow this? This could be Cameron’s ‘Falkland’ moment. A sudden change in fortune due to this orgy of nostalgia.

    My key adult years – 18 – 29 – were dictates by Thatcher’s policies. My home town had it’s industry destroyed, friends lost their jobs and I ended up in London because that was the only place where jobs were available. Families were destroyed, lives were ruined and the very rich got very much richer.

    We cannot allow Thatcher’s death to be used as an orgy for the right to crow about their agenda and our failings.

  • Peter Halsey

    I don’t think anyone could put Labour’s position better than this.

  • Fiona Ferguson

    Very well said , this is an honest but empathic post . We all have our feelings re MT but we seem to have gone mad in this country .We will all die eventually , the one thing we do have in common with her .As dust hits dust will any of our opinions really matter .

  • As someone who opposed all of Thatcher’s domestic policies, I nevertheless paid tribute (on the Speccie’s Coffee House blog) to her wisdom over the Soviet Union (she was right) and her
    recovery of the Falkland Islands (although it was shame she lost them in the first place). She deserves to rest in peace.

  • I was (just) an adult at he start of the Thatcher era and lived through it. Luckily it did not impact upon me as greatly as it did on certain communities, but impact on us all it did. One of the most notable changes to me was the attitude of people towards eachother. People used to be quite nice until the greed is good culture. Every conversation seemed to be about house prices…..I remember slipping and falling trying to get on a train at Baker Street Station in the late eighties. I was stepped over and trampled. Not one helping hand. Just a small example.

  • lucy

    It’s difficult to know what to write as so much has been written recently on the legacy left behind. I have to be honest I’m simply not able to think of Thatcher in a positive light. As a woman, her legacy does little to inspire me. Surrounded by men she did nothing to advance the argument for women in politics. She could have done so much. The hardest aspect of all of this is that every time people dismiss those who view her achievements negatively, it dismisses those who suffered because of her policies. Today we are encouraged to see those campaigning against austerity as “scroungers”. It feels like Thatcher is back and once again we are telling people that they don’t matter. I don’t and wouldn’t celebrate anyone’s death but I can completely understand the hurt still felt and the anger directed towards her. The government policies of the 1980s decimated communities. The best way to remember Thatcher’s legacy is to fight like hell against the coalition and protect those who they want us to despise.
    I feel slightly better for getting that of my chest.

  • Thatcher is going to join Hitler in hell, where the two shall await the arrival of Bush and Blair. Then hell will burn to less than a cinder, taking the four of them with it.
    Des Currie

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Alastair for about the best thing I have read on MT’s death.

    What you say about Labour rubbishing its leaders, Blair especially, should be displayed in gold lettering in every Labour Party office in the country.

    There is one other point be made and it applies to Thatcher and Blair equally. When you insult leaders who have the kind of electoral record of these two PMs you are to some extent rubbishing the verdict of the British people. That is not a good way to go about winning their approval yourself.

  • Anonymous

    Glenda said it all glad someone can still speak for us whilst the metropolitan oxbridge labour bus still tours the shires.

  • Dave Simons

    ‘If there is one thing Margaret Thatcher liked it was a good argument’.
    Really? Is this the lady nicknamed ‘Tina’ because ‘THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE’? That’s surely not a good way to conduct an argument. She was all for argument so long as the conclusion confirmed her own correctness.

    In fact she was the worst Prime Minister of the twentieth century, whose ‘strength’ was founded on narrow-mindedness, one-sidedness and bigotry. She wanted to drag us back to the halcyon days of Pitt the Younger, when capitalism was relatively young and untrammeled by combinations of workers eating into profits by using their collective strength to better their condition.

    ‘Nobody should speak ill of the dead, and the parties and dancing in the streets were offensive and misplaced’. Give us a break, mate! We suffered her for eleven years and we continue to suffer her baleful legacy, and can’t we even have a knees-up for fear we might upset Mark Thatcher? I won’t be dancing in the street because mortality is universal but I’m damned if I’ll criticise people who do.

    ‘She disliked hypocrisy’, WHAT! She was one of the biggest hypocrites in history and Leader of the Party par excellence of hypocrisy!

    ‘She was also one of the few real change Prime Ministers’. Right enough there – change for the worse. Let’s all raise a glass to the destroyer of every sensible policy born out of the hell of the Second World War.

    ‘So yes she is a huge historic figure’. Yes, something she shares with Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Henry VIII, Gengis Khan and many other beautiful people.

  • Anonymous

    The trouble, Alastair, with your having taken a measured tone, and asking for a bit of intellectual honesty and candour from all sides in an attempt to discuss and make sense of all she did and its repercussions even unto this day, is that from you, people will think “Well, he WOULD say that, wouldn’t he?”, as if it weren’t possible for you to do that which you ask. I have no reason to doubt your sincerity, and I realise that in many ways, it’s just fruitless even to attempt to change some peoples’ minds, especially on the subject of other people. It’s John Ford’s “Print the legend!” we’re going to get, where Lady Thatcher is concerned, I fear, and sadly, some wise counsel will be disregarded because some people will have discounted its source.

  • Anonymous

    If people buy into this reinvention of history the rest of us old enough to remember her need to leave. Now. Speaking ill of the dead is exactly what we should do in her case because she was a divisive and hard piece of work – not a patriot in the slightest. We are still living her toxic legacy and AC is right, the ill-assorted wannabes in the Tory party will exploit this rose-tinted retrospection as much as they possibly can. It all reminds me of how much I hated this country under her, and for so long.

  • Simon

    A good post, AC.

  • Anonymous

    In trying to scroll down your post I hope I didn’t accidentally flag it as ‘inappropriate’ because I agree with every word. Let people celebrate her demise if they have a long enough memory. When Nelson Mandela goes, people will truly mourn. Pity she never helped him, but Pinochet was more to her taste.

  • Anonymous

    I happen to agree for once, I am surprised to see the lack of balance, yes there has been a little too much media coverage of a relatively small number of people (maybe 200 in all?) having street parties. But on the whole Alastair is right. With a normal person, even if you hate them, you should try to find what is positive to say about them in death.

    With a partisan political giant such as her, I feel it would be right to stick to the positions you had when she was alive. Alastair is quite right to point out that Thatcher herself would have had no time for hypocrites and sycophants singing her praises if thats not what they really felt.

    It’s on the same lines as the talk between Conor Burns MP and Jon Snow just now, Snow said wouldn’t Maggie’s death be a good time to address the lack of women in parliament, shouldn’t we reform the house of lords and say the next 50 appointees must be women and call it the Thatcher bill or something like that, Burns pointed out that this would be the exact opposite of a Thatcher policy, indeed I think she would turn in her grave at the thought. Imagine if Thatcher had been elected on a quota – she would never have had the respect to back her views.

    Kinnock, Benn and others I feel have got it about right.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t see you on here in a while Mark but I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, and indeed those who rubbish Thatcher, Blair, Reagan or whoever else who served long terms, won big majorities, are not only rubbishing the verdict of the people, but the whole concept of democracy.

    Perhaps what they want to do, indeed an argument could be made for example in Thatchers case that while she helped the majority (surely unarguable) the price a minority paid may have been too high.

  • Anonymous

    Got to say it does stick in the craw a little though to hear Alastair say that if parliament is to mean anything mps should be allowed to say what they think. I was broadly in support of Blair and Alastair, if not Brown, but come off it – one thing Blair and Thatcher shared was an ability to say they loved dispersal of power in theory, but to centralise it in reality, take it away from local government, from the press, from parliament, and from cabinet.

    Why do you think MPs should say what they feel today Alastair after your previous decades of ensuring that its better they stay “on message” instead. Isn’t there a “line to take” being laminated on a card to give to labour MPs?

  • Gilliebc

    Well, I think that’s a very ‘all in the best possible taste’ piece AC. Well done.

  • Anonymous

    Enjoyed the fest in the HoC yesterday, watched it literally all the way through by my side eyes, but when my heroine Glenda stood up to speak, I really sat up, and she didn’t leave me down – here she is what she said, enjoy – Glenda,

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed Glenda’s contribution which was very critical without being insulting or in poor taste. She got the balance right. I almost felt sorry for the idiot Tory who got up after her and suggested the day was only for tributes. He was rather more kindly treated by the Speaker than he deserved.

  • Anonymous

    Nice to know you remember me!

    I feel some ambivalence here. I think a lot of the changes that occurred in the 1980-90s were inevitable. Social Democracy – an ideollogy to which I strongly adhere myself – was in a great fix after 1979 (not just in the UK) and there was clearly a rising intellectual tide of what was termed neo-liberalism. That was obvious even at the LSE where I was a student in the mid 70’s. So it is important not to over-personalise the Thatcher thing. I am sure if she had not done what she did someone else would have done at some point. That there were similar changes in other countries rather confirms this. Just to take one example it is very hard indeed to see how the GPO could have dealt with the explosion of telecomms after 1980 ish. “Get your mobile from the Post Office [only!]” – I think not.

    The fundamental problem I detect in the Thatcher legacy is that what she did broke social solidarity within the community. If I can focus on one policy that typifies that, the sale of council houses was not wrong in itself – but the failure to plough the proceeds back into social housing meant the drawbridge was drawn up around those lucky enough to buy leaving less for those that came after them. “Care in the Community” became a bad joke (and not even that for those who most directly suffered from it).

    This has left us with a huge problem of in effect, an underclass from whom the ladders to success are being gradually withdrawn while the Government, one very much in Thatcher’s image, shamefully plays blame games with the likes of Philpott. The fact that that underclass is a minority (and it is) isolates it further and means no political party has much interest in appealing to it. Even the far left’s doesn’t seem t have much interest in it as such preferring Trades Unionists (by defintion the better off working class), the Muslim community (Galloway) and various rainbow coalitions of this type of group but rarely focusing on the poorest most disillusioned and downtrodden people in our society. The idea that we are not storing up massive problems for the future this way is quite illusory.

    PS What has happened to my old sparring partner here, Michelle. I hope she is OK – really

  • Gilliebc

    Re: Michele. It’s now been over 6 months since we last heard from her. I hope also that she is OK.

  • Pingback: The Right’s politicisation of Margaret Thatcher’s death, part two | Alastair Campbell()

  • Anonymous

    Yep, she certainly kicked Maggie in the fanny nuts, but in a balanced and polite way. And yes, well done Bercow for putting that tory idiot in his place. I have always liked Bercow, and his misses, oh yes! They are interesting, lightens one’s day.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget Dave, the French president then, sorry, can’t remember his name, called Maggie Attila the Hen.

    Maggie was never a Lizzy One, and also the second version too – God save the Queen. And yes, Harri Eight was interesting, but a little bit bonkers, but he seriously cared for his people at least – there was no fun and games going on there in his reign, wives apart.

  • Anonymous

    Sad to say this, but yes, Blair was just Maggie in a pair of trousers, and a better smile. Gawd, Maggie’s teeth were like shrapnel, more angles than a trigonometry text book in maths classes.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed – all the best Michele too from me if you read this.

  • Anonymous

    Heard pubs and workingmen’s clubs here in South Wales were full the other night after they heard, but not exactly having parties, only just having quiet contemplation, and most of them saying “Well, she has gone now”. We respect death in Wales, some say we have an uncomfortable fascination with it, but it maybe due to our far distant druidic-type roots of past, paganism and worshipping yew trees and such.

  • Anonymous

    My life long memory is of Glenda in her two Oscared acting career, is calling oreeeegano oregano, in a yank film with her old acting mate George wotsisname, must search, be back now… that’s ‘im, George Segal, a brilliant film, Touch of Class. Really had the hots for Glenda when young as a teenager, and even still, admittedly. Potato potaaahto.

  • Anonymous

    I was just 13. I was spouting some sort of rubbishy received wisdom about voting for the conservatives (probably that awful divisive, reductive ‘winter of discontent’ quote). Suddenly, my friend turned on me and vermently bashed down my trite, ill-informed comment with one line “Do you want to be unemployed when we leave school?”. It was 1979. I hadn’t even started thinking about going to work and certainly didn’t have an inkling of how my parent’s vote would effect my chances. I don’t think I made much effort to find out right then either but her words always stayed with me because, boy was she right.

    Unemployment. The word says it all. It is surely the worse thing for any society – capitalist, socialist, any *ist you want to come up with. Unproductive. Uncohesive. Uncontrollable. Undermining. Unacceptible. And yet, under Thatcher, it WAS acceptible because even though it was over 3,000,000 people it was a minority, them, a group of people effectively marginalised by the idea that if you weren’t with us, the Haves, you were with them, the Have Nots.

    Cardboard cities. Care in the Community. Housing waiting lists. Casual racism and sexism. Rabid foreign policy. All caused by or used to distract us from that great sea of unemployed while the one off financial gift of North Sea Oil was being burnt up the chimney to keep 3,000,000 souls sitting on their backsides …because Thatcherist monetarist policy didn’t factor in flesh and bone, missing the point that the people are the real wealth of this country.

    I soon learnt what my friend was talking about. God knows who she learnt it from but as I grew up, I saw one painful social cost after another financial corruption after another. My father’s modest but successful secondary modern school, in the village where I lived, was closed.I saw my chosen career in the arts go up in funding cuts smoke. I watched my country commit abuse around the world in the name of democracy. I watched that so called democracy eroded from within. I despaired.

    I don’t care that she’s dead. I only care that she was alive and she was the lighning rod for so much dreadful harm that can never be undone. I care that I’m not even entitled to voice that opinion in the majority of forums in this country any more. I care that the public dialogue about her life is so reductive that no one even suggests that what she did (achieved?) could actually have been done differently. There wasn’t just one way. Her way. She wasn’t inevitable then.

    Maybe her disgusting legacy isn’t inevitable now.

    1979 and the world was full of possibilities. Alternate realities. Something other than venom and fear and rule by division. Goodbye Thatcher. Goodbye Thatcherism. Good riddance.

  • Anonymous

    Glenda has gone viral, almost three quarter of a million views in a day.
    Told you, told you, but would anyone listen to me that this would happen? Naaaahhh! I might as well bark up the wall.

  • Anonymous

    funnily enough, just found, oregano as per,

  • Dave Simons

    I’m glad you tagged on that ‘wives apart’ phrase, otherwise I’d been thinking you a little bit bonkers. We’re supposed to fall for the Henry VIII image of a fat and jolly polygamist and bit of a lad, as celebrated in Joe Brown’s song, ‘I’m ‘Enery the Eighth I am’. Henry VIII was a tyrant who plundered his country’s resources and silenced all opposition. He privatised the monasteries and gave them to his supporters, making no attempt to replace the social services done by the monasteries and thereby leaving those dependent to rot.

  • Dave Simons

    I’d give two cheers for democracy but at least that’s two more than I’d give for the alternatives. The majority can get it wrong – for instance if we had a referendum on capital punishment I think the majority would vote for its reinstatement, despite the fact that capital punishment would not deter suicide bombers and would lead to wrongly-convicted innocent people being murdered by the state. Democracy is based on argument, and that includes criticism of elected leaders. The real threat to democracy comes from people who are uncomfortable with argument and criticism, and I’m sorry to say that your post does seem to tend that way. The idea that Thatcher helped the majority is about as arguable as you can get!

  • It is interesting to see how even labour politicians oversee one major flaw in her otherwise impressive foreign policy record. Margaret Thatcher did not, other than what AC writes, bring the Berlin Wall down. Her fear of a re-unified Germany was so strong that she did in fact do everything to keep it up as long as possible, even at a time where millions of East Germans had the courage to demonstrate on the streets of Leipzig and East Berlin at great personal risk. Yes, she helped bringing Socialism down, but she tried to deny the people of the former GDR the right to determine in which state they want to live. Germany owes it unification President Bush Sr. and General Secretary Gorbatchev, and of course Chancellor Kohl who grasped the opportunity when the window opened for a short period of time. But not Margaret Thatcher. This does not diminish her otherwise impressive political record, also on foreign policy, and it is somewhat tragic that the moment communism fell, her own days as PM were counted.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah same here, I hardly ever come on here now because there is no one to argue with!

  • Anonymous

    Well Dave, at the end of her term, most people were earning more and were saddled with less national debt. They were also able to receive most services on either an equal, faster or cheaper basis, not worse.

    The country was richer, and so people were richer, the majority that is.

    I say thats unarguable because I don’t see how you can argue with it, but if you feel you can, go ahead.

    Note: that doesn’t mean I can’t recognise the limits of this type of democracy, ie majority takes all, 51% of people voting to shoot the other 49% as Milton Friedman put it, or 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. I believe in individual freedom and public choice economics, which would prevent such a “tyranny of the majority.”

  • Anonymous

    Maybe you are a different Mark, I don’t remember agreeing as much with anyone on here!

    I think this is another problem of the “tyranny of the majority”. I think what Thatcher and others like Blair achieved, is to make a middle class majority in this country, or persuade a majority they are middle class. This has been achieved mostly through the medium of home ownership, with all the positive and negative consequences that have flown from that (the crash, the high inflation the government now deliberately uses to pretend to people that they are not eroding the value of their homes down to their true levels and to keep the banks afloat.)

    I agree that if you are going to sell council houses to the tenants, the proceeds should build more houses. I also think more houses should either be built or at least the government should set more land free for development. But of course both of these policies would reduce the price of houses from their current ridiculous levels. This policy would help the have nots in terms of housing, but harm the haves. So it will never happen because all 3 main parties now represent the middle class haves.

    You are right about the trade unionists and other groups and I would add in the environmentalists, or as we prefer to call them the useful idiots. A Green Belt around London does not help the environment, in fact it would be better for the environment if more people lived in cities where they need less fuel and energy, but it does help those who want to keep the price of land and accomodation in London high and I am sure they are glad to have middle class student airheads with no genuine problems, to help them with this.

    Imagine if someone came along now and said “Thatcher was evil for closing the mines” which many do say, but then followed it up with the only logical and honest line that should be made to follow that “Therefore I plan to open them up again.” The new left, the eco warriors, would be all over them, going on about fossil fuels and hitting them over the head with windmill blades. Proving for them it was never really about caring for miners, it was simply about hating Thatcher. Now Thatcher is gone, they care not a jot about miners.

  • Anonymous

    There was always Glenda in The Muppet Show, remembered for completely different reasons,

  • Anonymous

    Harri eight liquidised monastery wealth and gave it to the people. Bit like the banks now, but the other way around, if you get what I mean.

  • Dave Simons

    What happened was that taxpayers’ assets which had been built up over generations were sold off at knock-down prices into private hands. This certainly made some people better off, but it sounds to me as if you fall for the average earnings figures. I think the current figure is somewhere around £25,000 pa, which is a lot of money to a lot of people who are earning less than £20,000. But their incomes are dragged up by a few people making mega bucks. The average earnings figure is no guide to the real conditions of most people in this country. As for the improved services you talk about, I wonder what you’re referring to? Do you think public transport was improved by deregulation? If you do I’d have to conclude that you never used public transport in the 1980s.

  • Anonymous

    Nope – I’m the same Mark – the “mighty” by the way really isn’t self aggrandisment – it’s just a name I chose in my earliest days of blogging when plain “Mark” wasn’t often not available and it sort of stuck. (though no doubt some will find something psychological in my alliterative word choice!).

    I agree with a lot of what you say. The choices we have to make are not easy ones and it is one of the Left’s faults that some times they make it sound as if they are. Your mining example below is a vary good one.

  • Michele

    Hi all 🙂

    I was away for a while (like I’d said!) and when I got back some weeks ago couldn’t get in at all, hadn’t fathomed the new signing in procedure (or perhaps it was always that way and I’d just never been signed out?).

    Gave up till a couple of nights ago when I looked in and managed it (tra laaaaa) but just looked in a couple of topics, had been up late watching the news from Boston, the interview with the wonderful surgeon who’d been operating for 14hrs 🙁

    My DiL was due to run this weekend but pregnancy has put paid to that – I is going to be a Granny !!!!!!!!! Her two sisters are still going to be there.

    Watching all the people in Boston rushing to help, not thinking about risks to themselves or more bombs ….. blub.

  • Michele

    Have you ever had a post stopped (even though the board is pre-modded)? I don’t think I have but lose at least half in the other place I joined post-Ritz news.
    Wonder if it’s the Barclays or Rupe funded that …… just whistling 🙂

  • Michele

    Great article btw AC.
    I’ve become interested in what she did pre-Finchley, compared her war years to my Mum’s (similar ages and both with ‘self-made’ Dads).
    She wasn’t a brilliant student and had a hard time finding work (personality reasons!) and I’d not read previously that when she was funded to re-train as a Barrister her speciality was Tax Law.

  • Michele

    Brilliant penultimate paragraph 🙂

  • Michele

    You’re both so very deep, it’s really quite touch


  • Gilliebc

    Welcome back! I was beginning to wonder if something bad had happened to you. Congratulations on your forthcoming grandma status. Becoming a grandparent adds a whole new dimension to life. No doubt we’ll soon be arguing again. But it’s good to see you back:-)

  • Anonymous

    Dave anything that needs subsidy is in my book not an asset, unless you can argue that it’s presence brings in money or benefit some other way, ie infrastructure.

    I don’t think the government should be handing out ready made monopolies or cartels in utilities, energy, transport – even nationalisation would be preferable to that. The govt should be looking to foster competition, make road rail and buses fight tooth and nail for customers.

    I was on public transport in the 80s, it sucked, and it still does. If there was competition, trains would have more carriages. In central London there is no option but overcrowded trains, everywhere else the mighty car pulverises public transport.

  • Anonymous

    No but today my computer stopped me using alastairs site due to suspected virus, not the first sign. Sort it Alastair!

  • Dave Simons

    He gave the monastic properties and lands to certain people who were prepared to support him. The present aristocracy is hugely descended from them. The majority of the people could go to hell as far as our ‘enery was concerned.

  • Michele

    I don’t think we can always believe an election win is down to democracy.

    Snatcher won three elections in a row with diminishing percentages of the total votes each time.

    Protest votes and too many parties were as damaging back then as they are now.

    We should be required to tick a box saying words to effect of ‘My vote is choice marked, not against any other’.

    Or perhaps we should have TWO votes per time, one being for ‘my favouritist’ and ‘my worstest’ and they get totted up as a plus or a minus and we might get someone elected with just one vote!
    I think I need more sleep 🙂

  • Michele

    Oooooh hello sailor 😉

  • Anonymous

    Thatcherism – a city turned HOGARTH!!!!

    Just can’t get that out of my head from last week’s speech – well done again Glenda.

  • Anonymous

    My understanding is that she was actually a rather good tax lawyer and first made her Parliamentary name in one of those nitty gritty tax debates that “we” never see (even on TV) on the budget in committee – as have a number of other politcians. The example goes some way to explain the emergence of politicians for reasons not apprent to the people – i.e. they have earned their spurs with fellow MPs in committee. But as someone who has attended some of these debates – boy can they be boring! Maybe the kudos is for just staying awake!

  • Gilliebc

    Same here reaguns. Every time I access this site through my ‘Favourites’ option, my computer blocks it. If I go to the site by taking the long way around it’s ok. To be honest I haven’t visited this site much since Christmas, because AC’s blog posts have become fewer and further between and the subjects chosen haven’t been of interest to me. Maybe AC’s become a bit jaded by politics!

  • Anonymous

    Hiya – things ok? Glad to see you.

  • Anonymous

    Amanda Thatcher was impressive at said event,

    Impressive long and triple jumper too in her athletics club too, I have heard. The mind boggles in imagination in mind’s eye the thatch doing the long jump…

  • Anonymous

    RUBBISH! So he gave it to his supporters, which were the down trodden before his dad’s Battle of Bosworth, and true trickle down in Brit society then occurred with their dissolution, wealth to the people on the streets. You English are so bad losers, with your Richard the Turd!

    You are talking pants! : )

  • Anonymous

    That speech of Glenda’s should be put in future political text books, I say, where you can actually truely speak your mind in a land, without being put up against the wall by the doting David Cameron, and the cry baby Georgie Porgie..

  • Dave Simons

    The Conservative Party has been talking about ‘lame ducks’ for at least four decades, but they only applied it to nationalised industries. They never applied it to the farming industry even though most of it couldn’t survive without heavy subsidisation. If they had been in office in late 2008 they would have bailed out the major banks with more cash than Labour, just as George Bush did. Why the double standards? Because the Conservative is up to its neck in land ownership and finance and they know how to protect their own interests, if not those of the country.

  • Michele

    What facilitated the reduction of national debt during the late 80s?
    Nothing other than selling off Govt/council property which, like all
    property can only be sold once.

    What went wrong after so much had gone?
    According to this:
    national debt was actually quite flat ’75 to ’85, dropped till ’90 but was back at ’75’s rate by ’95. Thatcher was not the magician so many pretend.

    Is it possible when you make a claim you can provide a legitimate link to back up what is so often simply your incorrect OPINION?

  • Michele

    There is a very simple option, it’s called flexitime.

    I don’t travel in rush hours and really don’t believe most people need to, it’s herd mentality (or the need to moan re whoever’s in charge).
    in London used to be half-hourly trains that really were crowded and
    massively dangerous with slam doors that opened OUTwards fgs.
    now is hugely more frequent, more/shorter trains and tubes, more buses
    and automated paying, less people employed in mind-numbing capacities to
    check tickets, tracks used to their capacity instead of lying
    wastefully as they used to.
    ALL of that planning is down to KL and JP and logical mindsets they created with unions when plans were set 2000 onwards.

  • Anonymous

    Blimey, but congrats – my days of not being a granddad are numbered – my 22 year old daughter is now in Oz, and I can see her returning home with an Oz hubby in tow, let me tell you that for nothing. I would age instantly twenty years when I become a grandpa, I can see and sense it. Oh lawd!

  • Anonymous

    Think it was due to new Disqus updates, that various anti-viral software packages hadn’t caught up with yet. Came up with me too, but within a day my Norton wotsit then allowed me to carry on auto, even though I clicked allow when it warned me the day before. I trust Disqus.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant interview with Glenda Jackson from the mid-1970s on her old trade of acting. Bit ropey tape recording – looks as if it has been in someone’s damp loft for decades, in Colin’s house, one of the producers of it. Brilliant brilliant person – I loves ‘er.

    He has posted other interviews he did too with others – the one with Mel Brooks is hilarious! Some Mel for you,

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