Tuesday, 17 November 2020

The damage Thatcher did.

 

This morning I heard  a snatch of the Radio 4 news item in which someone whose name I didn't catch pointed out that 2020 marks 300 years since Sir Robert Walpole became Britain's first prime Minister (though he didn't like the title.)  So a survey has been carried out as to whom people think has been our best prime minister. 

 It's no surprise  that Winston Churchill ( a good Liberal in his early days) came out top of the rankings, but I'm quite shocked  that Margaret Thatcher should come in at fourth place.  In my view her premierships  are far and away the most damaging of the post war years, and their aftermath is responsible  for many of our current woes.

  Here, off the top of my head, are fifteen  reasons why.

 1.  Destroying 1/5th of UK's  industrial capacity by over-tight monetary policy (dubbed "sado-monetarism") in her first years as PM  but making no attempt to encourage replacement of  the jobs destroyed - simply leaving  things to "the market." 

2.  Thus causing unemployment to rise to 3m

3.  Rather than setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund, squandering the North Sea Oil bonus on financing this level of unemployment.
 
4.  Withdrawing the Royal Navy presence from  the South Atlantic, thus apparently signalling to the Argentinian Junta that the UK was no longer interested in defending the Falklands.
 
5.  Evading a diplomatic solution to the Falklands War which ensued, and thus causing  255 deaths in the British military forces  and 649 Argentinian deaths, largely of young, untrained and ill-equipped conscripts.

6. Weakening local government  by abolishing the Greater London Council and other Metropolitan County Councils (inculcating ours in West Yorkshire) becasue they tended to have Labour majorities,  and generally starving local government of funds and initiatives.
 
7.  Indiscriminate and often illegal use of police to fight the miners, thus giving rise to divisions in the country that have not yet  been healed.
 
8.  Introducing the "right to buy" council houses at a massive discount and the refusal to allow local authorities to use the receipts to build replacements. Rather than  being occupied by proud "property-owning democrats" most of these houses are now in the hands of private landlords on a "buy to let" basis and there is a massive shortage of houses at affordable rents (or prices within the deposit raising capabilities of even the moderately well remunerated.)  

9.  Revisions of government statistics, particularly on unemployment, so that we no longer trust them.
 
10.  Aggressive privatisation and outsourcing of national and local government  services on the unproven grounds that the private sector is more efficient.  We now know to our very large cost, in money and lives (re coronavirus) that it isn't.

11.  Delay in joining the ERM, and then doing so at an unviable rate.
 
12.  The "Big Bang" which has led to the world becoming prey to under-regulated  capital flows, hedge funds, speculation  and the UK economy becoming over-reliant on the City of London.

13.  Aggressively promoting the  opening-up  of the EU to Eastern Europe before either they or the EU  were really ready.
 
14  Embarrassing opposition to German reunification.
 
15. In alliance with President Reagan supporting through the World Bank and IMF the Washington Consensus of outdated monetary orthodoxy, causing misery throughout much of the Global South.
 
There are probably a few reasons I've overlooked.  Suggestions welcome. 
 
A friend adds:
 16 Turning against the EC when Germany was reunified, and when Delors as Commission president persuaded the UK Labour Party that the EC was creating a ‘social Europe’ rather than a free market Europe – thus encouraging the drift of the Conservative Party from a Europhile to- wards a deeply Eurosceptic one.

It is now our task to put he UK and the world back together again.
 
Another friend points out two GOOD THING:
 
She resisted the calls for a National Lottery and for more relaxed regulation of the gambling industry.  Good for her had her Methodist upbringing.


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