Because you’re all desperate for JB’s views on Maggie

Wasn’t going to blog on the demise of the most important British political figure since Winston, but since everyone else has and this blog is being archived by the British Library (I know, right – nobody tell them I’m Strine now), I thought I’d stick this originally-an-FB-comment line up there.

I grew up in the South of England with a very leftie Welsh mum and a centrist Northern but financial-services-working-dad. So from a very young age my take on Mrs T was always that she was ruining where everyone was from – good for the family bottom line, but that we should be kinda ashamed of that and it wasn’t a way to run a railroad. Or country.

Among people who are just full-on middle-class southeners, when it comes to Thatcher, there’s a tendency to adopt a “something must be done, this is something, therefore this must be done” approach. The UK economy did need structural reform in 1979, like other developed economies. But it didn’t have to be carried out in such a cruel and downright wasteful fashion.

Callaghan’s government was bringing in labour market and regulatory reforms – they were the main cause of the whole Winter of Discontent thing. Had they won in 79 you could reasonably have expected something like Australia or Canada today, with necessary reforms made but labour rights protected and no outright destruction of communities and generations of people. 

It’s a terrible shame the implementation was left to a bunch of outright class war fanatics instead, who decided the best use of the immense windfall from North Sea oil was to pay dole and sick benefits for millions of people they had written off as members of society. 

(then of course a generation later, her heirs say “why are we paying these toerags dole and sick” while pretending not to know the answer is “because that was our policy all along”…)

She also helped invent Mr Whippy ice cream, which absolves a lot of sins. Also Falklands, obviously.

3 thoughts on “Because you’re all desperate for JB’s views on Maggie

  1. "Callaghan’s government was bringing in labour market and regulatory reforms – they were the main cause of the whole Winter of Discontent thing. "

    So if the Labour Party recognised the need for those reforms then why did they elect Michael Foot as leader and then write a manifesto that gave even more power to the Unions?

    Having had my formative years in the late 60s and 70s in the West Riding and had a father who was brought up in the slums of Bradford I'm convinced that the British people aren't as stupid as the left think and that if Labour had found a Tony Blair then and promised the reforms you reckon Callaghan would have brought in then the Falkalnds would have been set aside and Labour would have won that election.

    Frankly Labour got what it deserved.

  2. Only just saw this comment, sorry Simon.

    For posterity: because the Winter of Discontent cost, or at the very least was seen to cost. Labour the election.

    Which meant that – as with every political party that takes positions which are unpopular among its most extreme activists and doesn't win – the extreme activists take hold yelling that the public rejected them for lack of ideological purity.

    Hence 1983.

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