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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

We Need More Leaders like Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013

Among the people who complained about the cost of Margaret Thatcher's funeral (and on this I happen to agree with them, especially in these financially hard times) are also some of the protesters, the "hate mob" at the funeral, who in fact increased those costs by indirectly forcing more security measures.

This tells you a lot about the Leftists, in particular it exposes the difference between what they say and what they do.

This funeral cost duplicity is in perfect parallel with the hypocrisy of claiming to be compassionate and wanting to help the working class people while implementing all the policies that harm them, whereas Maggie Thatcher actually benefitted them.

As former Tory minister Kenneth Clarke recalled during the TV debate Question Time, it would not have been possible to make those necessary changes introduced by Thatcher in a different, softer, more compromising way. It had already been attempted by as many as three previous prime ministers - Callaghan, Wilson, Heath - without success.

The opponents' position was too entrenched, rigid and unwilling to compromise to be able to allow that. Changes could occur only in the manner that Lady Thatcher enforced them, due to the opposition's inflexible stance.

Liberal Democrat politician Menzies Campbell reminisced that, during the era before Thatcher, bodies were left unburied, people went to sleep at night without knowing whether the next morning they would have water, electricity, gas: all this because of the continuous, interminable strikes.

Kenneth Clarke, in the UK network Channel 4's documentary Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary, has a colourful way to express how super powerful trade unions were: they grabbed the country by its cojones and, when they wanted something, they squeezed more and more until they got it.

The UK had become a socialist country. Pre-Thatcher, when it was called "the sick man of Europe", Britain was the country with the highest level of nationalization of its economy, and consequently one of the poorest, outside the communist block. It was on the brink of social and economic ruin.

Almost everything had been nationalized: telecommunications, steel, energy, water, electricity, gas, mines, car, bus and lorry industries, aircraft manufacturing, airports, transport, travel companies like Thomas Cook. A man could spend his whole day without ever being in contact with private industry, but only using state-owned or state-manufactured products and services.

The state-based economy was bringing the country to collapse. Founded on monopoly, in the absence of competition, there was no incentive to win the customers over and nobody was held accountable for making (or not) the system efficient, productive and profitable. Managers did not worry if there were problems. If companies lost money instead of making it, no sweat: that's what taxpayers' money was for, to compensate for the losses.

Maggie changed all that, privatized industries, closed down those that were over subsidized, unprofitable and damaging to the economy. As a result:
According to the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the state companies went from costing the Treasury an average of £300m each a year in subsidies to contributing between £3.3bn and £5.8bn a year in corporation tax from 1987 onwards.
Political consensus had been tried and failed. As we know, Baroness Thatcher stood up to the quasi-omnipotent unions and won. The British society, including the working class, in the long term was better off because of her interventions.
Thatcherism worked. Take one (of course imperfect) measure: ONS figures suggest the economy grew by 3.03 per cent a year in the 1950s, 3.18 per cent a year in the 1960s, 2.07 per cent in the 1970s, accelerating back to 3.09 per cent in the 1980s under Thatcher, before expanding by 2.77 per cent in the 1990s (when her legacy largely remained) and by 1.77 per cent in the 2000s.
The report of the LSE growth commission is emphatic: by the late 1970s, the UK had been left behind, with US GDP per capita 40 per cent higher than Britain’s and the top European economies 10-15 per cent ahead. By 2007, however, UK GDP per capita had overtaken France’s and Germany’s and reduced significantly the gap with the US, a position which hasn’t really changed since, despite the US and Germany’s better performance over the past couple of years.
In the days before Maggie Thatcher there was no social mobility, society was not meritocratic and did not let individuals express their full potential.

If the father was a plumber, the son would be too, and the grandsons, and so on for all generations.

If a working class person had ambitions, s/he could do nothing, there was no way for him/her to climb the social ladder out of the housing estate where this person was born. In fact, the Left objected to aspirational working class people, considering them arrogant for wanting to break the uniformity of egalitarianism.

But after the advent of the Iron Lady people from low background with entrepreneurial skills could and did become rich, including in the City, whose doors she opened to everyone, beyond dynasties and old school ties.

There is no doubt that not just Britain, but every country needs many, many more politicians like Thatcher, now - it would seem - more than ever, but the question that is foremost in my mind is: if Maggie were Prime Minister now, would she deal with the immigration, and particularly the Muslim, issue the way she dealt with union leaders, strikes and Left opposition?

Nobody can know the answer to that, given the different times, circumstances and prevailing ideologies: no-one, for instance, called her "racist", which these days is a cardinal sin, an anathema, a fate worse than death, at most she was a "milk snatcher" which does not sound half as bad.

But what we do know is that we need a political leader who will address Islam, the seemingly intractable "unions" issue of today, the way she addressed them.

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