Tuesday, April 09, 2013

We Shall Not Look Upon Her Like Again

Ken Livingstone summed her up well, although he had a lot more negative things to say about her :

Ken Livingstone, Labour’s former London Mayor who clashed with Lady Thatcher during his time running the Greater London Council in the 1980s, said her personal “courage and drive” made her “the most admirable prime minister of modern times”.

“She didn’t worry about focus groups, she didn’t read the newspapers,” he said.

“There was real courage.”

However, Mr Livingstone said it had been “a tragedy for Britain” that her policies had been so badly flawed.


The Thatcher years were the start of the world we live in today. Her Premiership saw:

a) The start of the debt-fuelled culture which crashed in 2008 - remember "takes the waiting out of wanting" ?
b) The rise of the UK underclass, bastardy and drug use
c) The rise of the deregulated financial “economy” and decline of manufacturing
d) The rise in house prices
e) a collapse in the birth rate as
f) more women participated in the workforce (so they could afford a house!)
g) a dramatic rise in crime – linked to b)
h) the sell-off of vital infrastructure – power generation and distribution being the most important

While winning her economic wars, she was defeated in the culture wars – I’m not sure she even realised she was fighting one, let alone that she was losing. At any event, the Britain of 1990 was a lot further from Alderman Roberts’ Grantham than the Britain of 1979.

But the thing is – every government since has overseen the continuation and perhaps intensification of all the baleful trends above – with the one glorious exception of the Blessed Michael Howard’s noble reversal of the previous 50 years penal policy.

And, of course, Blair added a few more baleful trends all of his very own - including massive immigration and stopping all nuclear development in 1998.

We see in the Thatcher years yet again the contrast between the post-68 left's total dominance of the social agenda and their defeats on the economic agenda. A former girlfriend was a trainee social worker in 1980 - those girls hated Thatcher, more for her conservative social beliefs and her personal style than her economics. Such a straight !

Thatcher’s small-town conservative social values were almost redundant by the end of her reign, with rocketing rates of crime, bastardy, drug use, STIs.

The 80s were when the 60s went mainstream – I can still remember finding a bunch of lager-drinking ‘lads’ from my local picking magic mushrooms one September – their counterparts of ten or fifteen years before would have avoided such things like the plague.

So why did Mrs Thatcher’s social agenda fail so dismally while her economic agenda – at least as regards crippling union power – succeed?

Because individual capitalists – especially in the financial sector – found that none of that made much difference to their profits. Some things, like the influx of women into the labour market, and a move from manufacturing to services, were a positive boon as far as reducing militancy and strikes were concerned. The destruction of the existing cultural landscape was no problem to people who didn’t particularly identify with it – like Rupert Murdoch.

Bastardy, crime and the underclass were much more of a problem for working class people than the elite, who didn’t have to live with it or send their kids to school with it. Not much anti-social behaviour in Roy Jenkins’ Oxfordshire village – plenty in the Valleys where he was born.

Sure, taxes were quite high to pay the benefits bill – but they were coming down, and compared to the 1960s they were massively reduced. And North Sea oil paid the bills and enabled us to keep the balance of payments deficit getting too outrageous – while the City tax take climbed ever higher. You can only take one step at a time – IIRC Mrs Thatcher’s share of state spending was around the same when she left as when she arrived – remarkable when you think what the state no longer did – steel, coal, gas, water, power.

It's arguable (I tend to agnosticism) that Mrs Thatcher's curbing of the unions may have been a good thing in a relatively closed society. But when that was combined with immigration on the scale of the Blair years, it was an invitation to capitalists to fill their boots, then grind them in the faces of the poor. The toxic synergy of capitalist economic ideas (up to a point - would Adam Smith have bailed out the banks?) and post-68 left social ideas have between them created the Britain we see today - and it's not a pretty sight.    

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

What we have now at least at the lower end of the market I inhabit) is not even a capitalist relationship. When the relatively strength of capital and labour become so mismatched the nature of the relationship becomes more feudal than capitalist. When you sign a contract (supposed to be between two legally equal partners) these days, and often you don't if you get work via an agency, you are not just contracting to deliver certain outcomes and receive a certain reward, you are agreeing to keep keep your mouth shut, and submit to any questioning or criticism they may deem fit to subject you to. (At the interview you will be asked what your 'weaknesses' are, the intrusive equivalent of looking up a lady's skirt, and if you were to throw the question back at them you can forget it.) If you make the wrong noises (even humorously) you will be dragged into an office and accused of being 'rude' or suchlike. The duo sitting opposite you (and you are alone of course) have a list of things to confront you with, all done with the greatest professionalism and utterly reasonable of course. You must agree smilingly with their criticisms or they will sack you immediately or if that is not possible gradually. You have displeased your masters. You will be replaced by a keen as mustard Pole or Malawian in a few days. They will go home and watch 'Have I got news for you' with a bottle of wine and consider themselves modern, ironic and enlightened. As we are focused on the 70s and 80s I am brought in mind of a re run of 'Are you being served'. One scene struck me as highly indicative. The pompous captain Peacock sees the working class handyman (played by Arthur English) on the sales floor as the doors are opening and fobs him off with a task to get him out of the way. Arthur remembers he has a contract and and list of tasks and responds - 'You have no authority over me, get stuffed!' Exaggerated, comic, yes, but shocking in its freedom. It would not even appear in comedy now. The enlightenment and capitalism was supposed to be about humanism and individual dignity not about neo feudal relationship of subservience and 'compliance' (read obedience). Margaret Thatcher is now dead. May God have mercy on her soul. The dream and hope of all people is freedom not subservience and worthlessness. Blair and his friends decided quite consciously to allow millions of foreigners into the country to compete with me for work and keep me in line - all without attracting any 'left wing' opposition. Clever work boys. Your day will come like Margaret Thatcher's. This is the voice of one who is worthless in this society. This is the voice of the unemployed, awkward and unwanted. My day will come too and I hope and pray I am ready for it. Christ said the stone that the builder refused will become the cornerstone. His legacy is greater than Margaret Hilda Thatcher's.

Ryan said...

"But when that was combined with immigration on the scale of the Blair years, it was an invitation to capitalists to fill their boots, then grind them in the faces of the poor."

You perceive capitalists as some group of arch-villains discussing how to screw the rest of us.

Let me say that in my twenty years of working in some of the UK and the US's biggest companies at a high level, I have never seen such a thing, or even heard of it happening by repute.

Fact is "capitalists" are to busy desperately finding ways to make money. They haven't got much time for anything else. Immigration gives you both more labour and cheaper labour and more consumers, so this makes your balance sheet look good. Supermarkets employ Poles and at the same time open a freezer aisle full of Polish food. It is simply a spreadsheet equation for them. It is easier to grow your business through immigrants to the UK than to compete in international markets. There is no capitalist conspiracy working towards this goal. There doesn't need to be.

The only conspiracy is the Labour Party. 30% of the votes of the Labour Party come from ethnic minorities. The Labour core vote declines each year as white voters turn away from them, so they need more minorities to bolster their vote. History has shown it works for them, as does appealing to gays, Muslims, IRA supporters, student Marxists, anti-royalists, greens, arch feminists and animal rights protestors.

There were 6million families taking the Mirror in 1960. Now only 1million do. The working class voters that migrated to the Daily Mail and the Sun have moved on. Labour have had to find ways of replacing them - which they have done by building a majority out of the nation's social misfits and sucking up to them. However, this cannot go on forever, There will be a day of reckoning.

Ryan said...

"The duo sitting opposite you (and you are alone of course)"

You have a right to have someone with you in such a meeting. I would suggest you get some free advice from this website:

http://www.emplaw.co.uk/lawguide

I have sat with people in several of these meetings. You would be surprised how much a middle manager will squirm when he realises you know your rights. Middle-managers are the bain of society. They often over-step the mark. Very often you find they have exceeded their rights and authority. They don't like it when you make a fuss as often their own line managers get involved and they don't like the scrutiny - not good for their bonuses.

Stand up for yourself. It's worth it. In the unlikely event you need to take your case to an industrial tribunal it won't cost you a penny (they don't like lawyers being present).

Anonymous said...

No, Ryan, on both counts -

1. Capitalists love immigration. Don't let them off the hook. Just because they don't hold seminars called 'Let's get politicians to open the borders' is neither here nor there.

2. Meetings like the one I describe take place in an agency labour situation. You are not told it is a serious meeting until it begins. ANY LACK OF WILLINGNESS on your part leads to the sack - just telling you to leave and not come back. You are immagining people with proper contracts. If you were to say - 'What's this meeting about, I'm not going in without legal representation?' you are finished already. I don't think you understand this. Their line manager will be the one who tells you to get your coat - literally. This is a worms' eye view I don't think you have experienced. I have shown more balls, alone, in these situations, and paid with my livelihood than you can imagine, so don't tell me to fight back sunshine.

Richard Brown said...

Superb stuff Laban, and sad too. It will all end in tears.

Re capitlaism: I'm on Zero hours myself.

Ryan where did you get the 30% of the Labour vote being minority from?

Rich

JuliaM said...

"Bastardy, crime and the underclass were much more of a problem for working class people than the elite, who didn’t have to live with it or send their kids to school with it. "

And add to that, of course, mass immigration.

Ryan said...

"You are immagining people with proper contracts"

It is ILLEGAL to employ anybody without a proper employment contract. End of. Take the f*ckers to court and make them pay. Yes, I have in fact been in that situation and I told the "employer" to go to hell.

Ryan said...

@Richard Brown: "Ryan where did you get the 30% of the Labour vote being minority from?"

Population of UK is 63million. At the last election 50% of the total population voted, and 8.6Million voted Labour (Wikipedia)

According to the last census results, 80% of the population are "white British". This means 20% are some other ethnic group, i.e. 13million people, but we can assume only 50% of these will vote at election time, i.e. 7.5million people

Within the ethnic minorities, 58% vote Labour (IPSOS Mori - "Ethnic Minority Voters and Non-Voters at the 2005 British General Election"). 58% of 7.5million ethnic minority voters gives you 4.4million. This means 4.4million of Labour's vote comes from ethnic minorities. 4.4million of 8.6million votes gives a percentage of 51%.

Oh well, that's even higher than the last time I calculated it but we had a new census with even more alarming immigration figures in it.

So, over 50% of Labour's vote comes from ethnic minorities. The native British population is turning away from Labour (only 4.2million white British votes from a total adult white British population of 37million!), and Labour has no choice but to force open the door on immigration every time they are in power, making a mockery of democracy in the UK.

Labour are now 5th columnists for 3rd world immigration from Pakistan and Bangladesh and will hold the door open on immigration until Britain and Bangladesh have the same quality of life, at which point the Asians will stop coming here. Anything they ever say to the contrary is a lie, because they have no choice if they ever want to have a chance of power.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Thatcher particularly given the EU integration that happened under that generation of Tories.

And although I agree with taking a long term view, going back 30 years to describe our current mess is ridiculous, without emphasizing what happened since Thatcher.

The economy in 1997 was basically in good shape, now I agree the loss of large scale manufacturing was a bad thing, but in 1997 we were in nothing like the mess we're in today.
Then Labour comes in, creates a massive debt fueled boom, often with off balance sheet debt such as PFI.
Sells our gold reserves at absolute rock bottom.
OKs various mergers of the big banks, creating the too big to fails.
Opened up our borders to millions of relatively poor people, even those who were economically successful this country didn't see the advantage as they sent money home.
Totally neglected our energy infrastructure, not only nuclear.
50% of students going to University , having the effect of causing a shortage in some types of skilled labour.



Sam Tarran said...

I challenge anyone not to admire her rise from obscurity to First Lord of the Treasury, overcoming as many obstacles as she did. And I challenge anyone not to admire her forthrightness and sureness of purpose in contrast to so many of her contemporaries and ours'. I think a lot of the kids dancing around celebrating her death (and that's what they are, essentially: children) do not appreciate the mood and condition of the country in 1979.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to disagree with a lot you say, Laban. With Thatcher, along with predecessors like Atlee, I think they implemented such massive reforms because they took the existence of a British, Christian society for granted, and therefore ended up contributing to its decline.

Martin said...

Laban,

The Right To Buy was a policy borrowed straight from Franco (see John Hooper, 'The New Spaniards'), the rationale being that of you have to pay for your own house you won't make trouble.

Similarly, the privatisation of services and so on may have been intended to ensure that if people have to spend time shopping around for services they used to pay for automatically they won't have time to make trouble.

For ensuring that no woman will be widowed tomorrow as the result of a pit collapse, Margaret Thatcher should be considered a heroine by the wives of former miners.

She was the greatest centraliser of government the country has ever seen, suggesting to me that she never outgrew a native provincial bourgeois horror at the thought of anyone else having control of the finances - if she could actually have kept the Treasury in a biscuit tin under the counter, she might just have given it a go.

The rabid ideology of later years - witness the relentless onward promotion of Forsyth, an individual who many in Scotland will always regard as a staring loon - was her undoing; given that the NHS's sole guiding principle is that services must be free at the point of use, an internal market within it will do absolutely nothing to make it more efficient (that policy was dreamed up by a guy called Alain Einthoven, who also created the concept of the 'kill ratio' while an analyst at the RAND Corporation in the '60's).

Ryan, you claim to have worked at a high level in businesses in the UK and USA for some years, and that the guys at the top are all about making money. IMHO, that's guff, the guys at the top usuqally being primarily concerned about staying the guys at the top.

Martin said...

Anon 9:58,

It wans't Christ who said that the stone that the buildes rejected will become the corner stone. It's Psalm 118.

Anonymous said...

Wrong again Ryan, still in your ivory tower I see. Your 'contract' is with an agency. Basically you get paid if you have certifiably worked some hours. THEIR client tell you what hours you work if any and signs them off. This boss has effectivley no contract with you the worker. They can tell you to fuck off at any moment for any reason.

Michael Henchard said...

Good summary of the Blessed Margaret's "achievements" I thought.

Don't tell the Telegraph, they'd burst into tears.

One thing I don't think Thatch would have tolerated however is the Pakistani grooming-rape epidemic

Minette Marin produced a good article last year unfortunately behind the Times paywall.

She laid much of the politically correct cultural cringe cowardice at the door of Macpherson

Quite right too - bloody old fool

Michael Henchard said...

Ryan

Agree with what you say generally about Labour and immigration.

These swine say very little about the grooming-rape epidemic and it is pretty apparent that they have sold our girlsw into the foulest sexual slavery in return for postal votes

BTW it is very difficult to post here - prove you are not a robot audio is incomprehensible and the letters and numbers as they appear are not much better

Martin said...

Laban,

I see we're not the only devotees of Thomaws Hardy round here.

Laban said...

I'm not at all sure that Thatcher would have bailed out the banks, either.

Anonymous said...

...and decline of manufacturing

You really need to stop peddling this trope, UK manufacturing has increased steadily since the 1960s apart from a couple of drops, it is still higher and has never "declined", it has not increased as much as other sectors when considering the total rise in economic output, but that's a purely relative standpoint.

Certainly manufacturing employs less people, but that happens to every industry as technology takes hold, see agriculture. Britain is a world leader in high technology manufacturing and design, hardly an aircraft in the air isn't being pushed by a British engine and hardly a smartphone in anyone's pocket doesn't have a chip designed in Cambridge.