The Iron Lady

Thoughts on conservatism generally

Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Gavin » 16 Apr 2013, 18:58

BBC News was just asking young black and Indian people (London's principal population) what they think of Mrs Thatcher. Knowing nearly nothing about her or her politics, of course, they nonetheless didn't like her. The best they could say (in "street" English) was that she showed "what a woman can do" and "what we can do" or words to that effect.

How terrifying that people as ill-educated and ignorant could ever be in Mrs Thatcher's position (and given the nature of democracy, I suppose they could be). Also she would have hated the emphasis on her being "a woman". She was a lady, but mainly just a very capable person with a clear vision of what needed to be done to save the UK at that point in time.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Gavin » 17 Apr 2013, 08:49

Funeral day today, then. BBC coverage is looking like a left-fest. David Dimbleby is interviewing Shirley Williams - ex-Labour MP and advisor to Gordon Brown. She is unsurprisingly the person most often to have appeared on Question Time. She said that Mrs Thatcher "took politics seriously - unlike many of the men around her who were playing games". So she just had to squeeze in some sort of sexist assertion, no doubt baseless. I sometimes wish Mrs Thatcher was around to refute these lefties. I turned it off again - can't stand Dimbleby as he comes across to me as a typical BBC champagne socialist - but I hope it all goes smoothly.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Gavin » 17 Apr 2013, 10:11

A couple of observations as I watch this funeral on the television.

First, there are nearly no dark faces among the public who line the pavements. Just a sea of white. This looks like a case of racism from the majority population of London.

Second, David Cameron was on the television. I didn't hear what he was saying - I didn't need to. Just to be clear, today's politicians are from the school of focus groups, reared on PR. They're saying: "I don't really have any views, this is just a career for me, so I will try to work out what people seem to want and whatever it is I'll then claim to provide it".

In contrast, Mrs Thatcher was a conviction politician. She had a clear view of what she thought needed to be done to save the nation (it mainly involved a respect for British tradition and decency and encouragement for people to stand on their own two feet - this way a strong country lies). You voted for her if you liked what she stood for.

What a pathetic bunch today's politicians are, in contrast. We desperately need more conviction politicians on the right who are plain and clear about what they believe without any fear of being called "racist" etc. We need this before the demographics make it forever impossible. Perhaps Mr Farage will save us.

I find today a very sad day because along with the death of Mrs Thatcher looms the threat of the demise of what she stood for. It really mustn't be the funeral for that too or I think we will all be doomed.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Nathan » 17 Apr 2013, 16:22

I managed to get the time off work to join the crowds not far from St. Paul's Cathedral. I was about ten rows from the front (though still nearer the front than the back!) so didn't see much, but it was worth it. I'd say about 5% of the people I could see were non-white, and that includes a couple of Chinese tourists just there to see the Queen being driven past. Not the complete whitewash I was expecting, but hard not to notice the ethnic under-representation, even giving them the benefit of the doubt and going by London's 1980s demographics rather than today's.

I suppose I was within earshot of about a thousand or more people, and apart from one woman shouting something I couldn't make out and one man with a megaphone ranting about the cost all were genuine and there to pay respect. Most of what I could hear people say about her and her detractors mirrors the sentiment in this thread, which is heartening.

I'm hoping that Margaret Thatcher's return to the public eye, if only for a week, actually helps bring what she stood for back into the public eye and helps to educate a generation that doesn't remember her first-hand (myself included) about who she really was, and reminds us of what political life is lacking nowadays. We can hope, I suppose!
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Nathan » 18 Apr 2013, 15:52

The Telegraph agrees with us that we are unlikely to see big landslide governments again, particularly on the Right, though it doesn't mention demographics but rather electoral geography and the collapse in support for the main two parties, which is fairly undeniably true. Only two-thirds of the electorate voted Labour or Tory at the last election, and I can't see that number going up next time.

The fragmentation in our electoral system is in some ways a good thing, because it forces parties to be on their toes and not take the electorate for granted, but of course a conviction politician like Thatcher who dares to make unpopular decisions for the greater good won't be able to get some of the more hardline stuff through without it being adulterated by a junior coalition partner, and inertia may take root more easily.

The first-past-the-post system worked well in providing strong government when it more or less was a two-party system, but if no single party being able to form a government becomes the norm then I don't necessarily see its virtues. If Labour scrape over the line in 2015 there will likely be less enthusiasm for a new government than ever.

If a party polling no more than 35% of the vote gets full reign to govern or weak, fractious coalitions become the norm anyway, and more and more people find themselves in a position of voting tactically to keep one party out rather than to get the party they really identify with in, calls for some form of proportional representation will start to make more sense.

(By the way, if anybody wants to know a way of getting round the new '20-free-articles-a-month' restriction on the Telegraph, just try using a different browser once you've reached your limit!)
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Caleb » 22 Apr 2013, 04:21

I found this article at Victor Davis Hanson's site.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Elliott » 22 Apr 2013, 05:25

That's a good article. I really like VDH. Some of the examples he gives are so ridiculous as to be frightening rather than funny. Whenever I read about such insane feminists I wonder how I would fare in their company, or in a room full of nothing but them. (How long would I survive? And what bits of me?!) Venomous, twisted harridans.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Gavin » 22 Apr 2013, 08:13

Thanks for that link. I had never heard of VDH or this author, Bruce Thornton, but that was a brilliant attack on these horrible feminists. It even mentioned their tendency to believe in mystical nonsense and ignore real crimes committed against women. It was a great summary of what they stand for, how redundant yet disgusting and harmful they are, and how Mrs Thatcher was not one of them. She would have laughed at them.

They really do need eradicating from academic institutions across the world which they have now infiltrated 100% and from where they spread their hatred and misinformation. I have something to say to them:

So you're a manly woman. So you're not very good looking. So you were raped when you were younger. That's all very sad. But it does not give you the right to twist and corrupt the minds of normal women (and men) all over the world and pitch them on some crazed crusade against their opposite sex and against their own natures. Deal with it.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Paul » 22 Apr 2013, 12:43

RIP Margaret Thatcher.

Whatever I may have said in the past (a little I admit) and more so, including what I have said since. There is so much that can be said, and much has been and much will be. History will perhaps be the best judge, except for the fact that history is often distorted. It will depend upon who has written the particular article that we may one day read (as has been the case just this last two weeks). She did, has, and will continue to polarise opninion until she really does fade into the far past.

It's done now and as much as anything, it feels like the end of an era in many ways, even though she hasn't been in power for over 20 years. As much the end of an era as the one one she displaced in 1979. I remember it well and that which preceded it. I once read, some years ago, that, in one sense, Margaret Thatcher dragged Britain, struggling, kicking and screaming somewhat, into the modern world - meaning the late 20th century..... and ready for the 21st.

The last true patriotic political leader of Britain, one might reasonably say. Others may have compelling reasons to debunk that, looking at the long game.

I watched the funeral and found it very dignified in its sadness. Despite it being officially a 'ceremonial' funeral rather than a state funeral it seemed understated even so. Notwithstanding all the clamour about the cost (I could argue for both sides on some points) this was not a display of ostentation or indulgence. It was simply a funeral.

The cost then: My mother told me that, among other things, every MP who attended the funeral (all of them surely - in light of the following) was able to claim 'expenses' for so doing and these expenses were to stand at £3750 for the day. I haven't checked this out and at first thought the idea (and the figure) is so outrageous as to cause disbelief ...... in which case it's likely to be true! At least these days, in the UK, where bizarre stories seem to be the order of the day.

As regards the alleged total cost - £10 million - well I'm not sure where they get these figures from, for these kind of events. Having said that, one knows all too well how costs for anything can run wild, so I'm not of a mind to think the affair cost a few thousand. But £10 million?

'Think of all the police on duty', I have been told. Sections of the military too. But these people were already employed and being paid. It's not like thousands of police were suddenly recruited the day Margaret Thatcher died. Ditto the military and any other security personnel called upon to act. Conversely it's not as if their wages wouldn't have been paid if MT were alive and well and running down the high street.

The cost of the cathedral and all the participants? The cathedral was already built and the religious personnel (even the choir boys) already installed. What else would they have been doing that day? Still, it would cost you or I a pretty sum to be wed or buried in St Paul's cathedral but - why couldn't the cathedral (the 'establishment') have done the job for free in MT's case? Surely they aren't grasping money, and no doubt at a premium rate even for them, in this sad case?

It's bewildering really. One gets the feeling that there's likely to have been a whole lot of shuffling of large sums of money, from one government department to another or from one section of the establishment to and fro the government otherwise. Meanwhile the media gleefully decide upon a figure and report it at length to whip up a story. That's how I see it. I also think that the spending of £10 million on the funeral won't make me a pound poorer any more than saving it would have made me any the richer.

(That though is not to say that the government should be imprudent or disregard the virtue of making savings ...... in which case maybe I should be more concerned)

I thought most telling and poignant was the attendance of the Queen. The image of the Queen, in black, standing in the pews as the coffin went by her was......humbling?

The first I knew of her death, on the day, was via a text message I received, at work in the afternoon, which went something like this:

'Despite Margaret Thatcher being dead, she was pronounced fit for work in a statement by ATOS'.

I wondered at it but thought it a fairly sick and more so silly and not in any case very funny (as far as gallows humour goes) joke. It was from my 'Pet Liberal' (a thread on this soon), a friend who, despite being conservative (small c - perish the thought), doesn't yet realise it (though he's 43) and pretends, or fantasises that he's a 'Labour Man', a socialist and a champion of the downtrodden .......... via someone else's money (though only if they have more, usually a lot more, than he does). But he actually is a conservative in all his manners and tastes, (and his job and his income, so would say the working class man), all apart from what I have to say are his silly (dare I say petulant & childish?) gibberings. He's one of these who seems to be somewhat still in his student days and yet despite his university degree he doesn't seem to know anything about the world or of his fellow man.

He's a decent chap and would still be a casual friend in other circumstances, but his politics and worldview are amusing and so I cultivate him more than I otherwise may. He's probably saying more or less the same thing about me. He would have gloried in hearing the news early and hurrying off this 'joke' to me, thinking it might push my buttons .......... though knowing deep down it wouldn't. At the same time he may have wished for a counter-statement from me so he could scurry around his dissident, lefty colleagues at work and tut-tut about the deluded. Or even the 'traitors', myself being from a working-class background 'n' all. Treason eh? Oh if he but knew but he's infantilised by his experiences - or rather his lack of them, so I forgive him somewhat. He shall remain a project of mine and I shall write of him soon, though maybe with a lump in my throat. I am digressing once again.

I turned on the radio and waited for the news. I got home by mid-evening and couldn't bear to read what I knew would be the inevitable bile. Brief headlines caught my eye. I came here and read all the threads and have followed them since. Some very good comment, some good links, some infuriatuing ones.

It's been noted, throughout much commentary on MT, that very many of the people commenting have no personal experience of her at all, or of her premiership. They weren't even alive then, not even when she left office in some cases, let alone when she first became PM. This has been most notable (and essential to point out) with regards to the noisy left-wing types, especially of course the nasty and the vulgar. At best, many of these people were small children in her time as PM. The same fact has been equally, though more openly, honestly and decently admitted by those who would support her, including people who have commented here.

Still, I have to say, this lack of direct personal experience shouldn't automatically preclude a person from having an opinion. If that was the case none of us here would be able to have an opinion on Hitler or Churchill or a host of other people. Crucially though I suppose, such opinions can only stem from what one has been told or what one has read.

And yet, despite the fears of an 'incident', the overwhelming impression of the funeral was one of dignified support from crowds of onlookers. At least it seemed the detractors were a foolish minority.

<Just to go back to the funeral and Dimbleby of the BBC (seeing as he's been mentioned) - he was outside interviewing some guests (I think it was Wogan and another but I can't exactly remember) and one of the interviewees gestured to and mentioned the applauding public. Dimbleby smiled, rather smugly I thought, and said something like - 'Ah, but I've been over speaking to them earlier. They're all her supporters you see.'

I would have been less than impressed if he had said this to me. Of course they're her supporters, why else would they be applauding? How condescending. And also of course is his sneaking and treacherous assertion that there are also hordes of dissenters somewhere about - and that he's been speaking to these too. That's how I would have taken it.>

Thinking a little of the dissenters agaist MT:

I will know 50-somethings who will have been drinking mightily and carousing loudly and who will probably continue to do so for some time. I'm dreading bumping into them in a way, though part of me is spoiling for a good telling-off. That's me to them of course!

They all lived in the Thatcher years as young men, as did I. I shall ask them which country would they have preferred to have been born into instead. And what was so terrible about their lives in the 1980s. What they were really prevented from doing? Coal-mining?

There is however more to it than this. Not everything is one-sided. Is anything truly and wholly black and white? It would be rather foolish to claim this was so, in my opinion. Thatcher and her governments made some mistakes, some of them quite bad ones I think.

Whether those mistakes were unavoidable consequences is another matter. Or whether they were deemed (correctly) a price worth paying than an outright mistake. In the latter case it's almost impossible to know for sure. Also, one doesn't know of external forces that had an effect on policy, on time available to achieve everything and an effect on the woman herself. Nonetheless....

Red Ken Livingstone - should have been run out of town on a rail 25 years ago and more, and I reckon I thought that back then and may even have squeaked it occasionally. And I was a bit more left-wing (gulp) in the past. No - I was less right-wing is all, definitely. The man is a chancer and a liar and that was plain back in the 80s. No good will come of the likes of him - and so it has been proven.

Galloway - of them all, he should be detained with a view to looking into treason charges. If we can't find any - make some up! There'll be enough skeletons in enough closets to get him on something anyway. A vile individual. The thought of him makes me angry.

The female angle, before I forget. There have been, in my opinion, four Englishwomen who have been in charge of this nation who have all done spectacularly well. Maybe as good as any male leader, which goes to show that a woman can emerge and succeed, to the benefit of many. They are of course - Elizabeth Tudor, Victoria, the current Queen and Margaret Thatcher. All of them were/are immensely strong and none of them fools.

Is there any other nation that has produced females that have achieved as much? I don't mean to decry other nations at all. It's hard to highlight the status of the four given without sounding deprecating towards other countries. It may just be an English curiousity and a twist of fate. It may be that I'm not sufficiently aware of foreign history. But I can only think of Catherine the Great of Russia. Maybe Isabella of Spain. Beyond that, it's back to Boudicca and Cartiamandua. Anyway, behind every strong man, is an even stronger woman it is said. Hopefully, that placates everyone!

Conversely, Denis Thatcher was obviously a great foil for MT and, I always thought, a very humourous individual, without being a buffoon. He reminded me very much of Prince Phillip, with a similar dry humour.

I did read a blog earlier which presented MT, a modern female politician alongside a more modern contemporary - Sarah Palin. Both of them were presented as a study not necessarily of themselves, but as how they are perceived by 'the enemy' and what that perception then says about the said enemy. Here are their similarities:

1. They were/are both powerful non-feminist women. They are even more anti-feminist than many male politicians tend to be.

2. They are totally outside the mainstream of their political systems and their own political parties

3. They are relentlessly middle-class in a system dominated by the elite.

4. Their origins are constantly made fun of by the political insiders - grocer's daughter/trailer trash.

5. They are considered stuffy and unhip and depressingly moral about everything, rather than groovy and tolerant and indulgent of self-destructive behaviour.

6. They didn't ride their husband's abilities to achieve fame and position.

7. They cause their opponents to freak out, exposing themselves for what they really are. The elitist and leftist crowd hates them both, almost frothing at the mouth at the very thought of them. These are not the people who may disagree with one or more policies of either, but those with an irrational and visceral hatred towards them.

On balance, I would say Britain was far better off having Margaret Thatcher as PM, when she was, and for the time she was. In fact it would no doubt have been better if she had stayed far longer. As much as simply 'better off', it is probable that she saved us from ruin. Unfortunately it now seems she merely postponed the day and incalculable damage has been done to Britain since her departure.

On the other hand I have read some convincing articles outlining the mistakes, or even deliberate actions, and have to say some of them are no doubt correct. But, as the lesser of two evils (to put it harshly) MT wins hands down every time. I was there, throughout her tenure and was old enough to understand what went before and where we were heading otherwise. Besides, I wouldn't ever call her an evil. Tough and with conviction, yes. And show me any politician who wouldn't make mistakes or upset some section of society. I know for one that I could never achieve that.

How do I remember MT and her govts? And the 1980s - and the 1970s before them? The working-class, including the miners and coal-mining? And considerable directly-related history of such? Industry and the aftermath? The huge changes to the country, in many ways?

Here then is my pedigree, such as it is, to talk about these things. Of actual coal-mining I have no direct personal experience, but endless direct anecdotes. Of the rest I have considerable direct personal experience.

Both my grandfathers mined coal all their working lives. Both entered the mines aged 14, straight from school. Both died as a result of coal-mining, one directly, the other indirectly 10 years down the line. Both saw death and great injury to others.

My maternal grandfather, born 1909 and coal-mining by 1923, skipped 4 years of mining .... by fighting in a World War! Upon demobilisation in 1946 he went straight back underground, until 1969, when the local colliery closed. He worked in an electrical factory for another 5 years until retirement at 65. He took part in the General Strike of 1926 and went on the great labour marches of that year. As he said though, he had no choice. He was only 17 at the time and 17 year olds did as they were told then - especially when told by large, burly coal-miners! He didn't like it and hinted at various things at odds with what one might expect. Unfortunately, he died in 1979 (50% coal-dust damage in his lungs) when I was just 16 and therefore much was left unsaid that I would have plumbed in later years. One thing I do remember that he repeatedly told me as I was growing up, sometimes with a fervour that suggested tears in his eyes, was - 'Never go down a coal-mine! Do anything (though he meant legal) but never mine coal.' If there was one thing about which he would endlessly praise the modern era it would be that there are no coal mines left. It may even outflank all other disappointments. He survived just long enough to witness Mrs Thatcher take office but that was all. Obviously I wish he would have survived for other reasons but to hear his views on the miners' strike, the aftermath and the whole Thatcher gov't versus the mining (and other) industries would have been instructive. I'll just say here he was no rabid socialist, quite the opposite, but I'm just not sure if he was unique or if there were others of a similar disposition. He was highly intelligent and quite remarkable at mathematics. I like to think he saw through socialism immediately. He highly approved of Grammar School and was proud to say his daughter (my Mum) had been one of the few working-class children of her generation to have attended a grammar school..

My paternal grandfather was conscripted during the war by The Ministry of Labour as a 'Bevan Boy', though he was a full adult at the outbreak of war and already an established miner. He mined coal at breakneck speed for the duration of the war and then carried on afterwards, until 1957 when a runaway coal-truck took his foot clean off whilst underground. He died 6 months later from shock, trauma and, unofficially, because he just 'gave up', considering himself now useless. He thus died before I was born.

In addition, lots of other local men were miners and these included the fathers of some of the childhood friends I had.

At least two large-employing local collieries closed towards the end of the 1960s and to a great degree, the incidence of miners I was aware of diminished from this point. Some remained however, until the early 1990s and the local mining workforce became more of a smallish clique in this latter period. I didn't know any miners directly through the 1970s but met some again, of my own age, by about 1980. These were young chaps who had entered the mines, now aged 16, from school and tended to have fathers and/or brothers still in the industry.

It's correct then no doubt (and I doubt not the sources mentioned here and elsewhere) that more mines closed in the 1960s than the 1980s. More by Wilson and Callaghan than by Thatcher. An interesting statistic, lost in all the noise. As an aside, I have a wonderful old map of Lancashire, on cloth and about a yard square, dated 1901, which lists 102 collieries within the county boundary. Far more than even the aftermath of the War. By the late 1970s then, before Thatcher, the number of mines (and miners) were a fraction of what had once been. The industry was still costing the country a fortune though, which considering its inevitable streamlined status is pretty disgraceful really. I would have wanted to do something about that had I been given the power and the same with British Steel and others. It's a complete squandering of a natural resource and above all, bad business, an embarrassing and infuriating fact for a country that recently had a global empire.

I have recently read an article that stated that the optimum production of coal in South Wales peaked in 1913. I don't know by what criteria this is stated or proven. It seems suspiciously like just before the Great War upon which there were suddenly a shortage of men, though whether mining was an industry protected from military conscription in WW1 I'm not sure. It may also mean that some mines were not economically sound enough to continue via methods available at that time.

One thing is for sure, no matter who closed coal mines, why or when. All that coal is still there. I said this in the early 1990s when the last local mine closed, after long and futile resistance. How much will that coal be worth in 50 year's time? A practical question more than ever a cynical one.

So, I have heard plenty of tales of mining coal, straight from the horse's mouth, as they say. I know, or knew, coal miners, both old school and the later (and last) generation of them.

Just a few short tales, every one of them true. I believe them to be true anyway:

A friend's father rose to eventually become Pit Manager. He was the ultimate authority at that site on a day-to-day basis. He viewed the place as 'his pit'. In 47 years of employment there, he never had one single unauthorised day off work. That sounds like an urban myth but it's true. He received a commendation to that effect upon retirement. I only met this chap and his son in the early 1980s, by which time the father had recently retired. The son wasn't a miner though - he was a hippie! How tragic in a way.

Another friend's father became chief electrician at the same colliery. He was on permanent 24 hour call and could be expected to go out at any hour and deal with up to an 132,000 volt emergency. My friend has told me (again in the 80s) that he remembers being a child and seeing his father more than once fall asleep at the table, in his own dinner plate! He was that tired. 'Once', said my friend, 'he fell asleep in a bowl of soup and it made my Mum cry. I'll never forget that.'

On some coal seams that my grandfather worked on, the last 50 yards, or more, could only be accessed down a tunnel about 18 inches high, maybe 24 inches wide. Men had to lie flat on their backs and kind of inch along on their elbows and heels, moving like a slug would do! The roof may at times be almost brushing your nose! Millions of tons of rock are above you. There would be a man in front and a man behind, each shuffling along on their backs, like a row of slugs. There was no going anywhere or getting out. If you were claustrophobic I imagine you were done for. Mainly in the dark too. Another thing: it was so hot underground that miners used to strip off to their underwear! So you would be shuffling along more or less naked. Maybe a leather slip to protect your back from sharp rock, but leather is hot and sweaty. After a long, long shuffle, the tunnel would open out into a cavern where the coal seam was exposed. There, one would have to hack it out with a pickaxe by hand, some of it after blasting by the demolition teams. Terrifying stuff.

My grandfather (maternal) volunteered, or applied, for the job of 'coal ripper'. This was by far the most dangerous part of mining. It was also the highest paid. It is, as said, actually digging of the coal itself. There were many other jobs underground involving electrics, transport, safety, even caring for ponies! My grandfather saw and experienced things we will never see .... although most of that was in the dark! I just can't imagine it at all.

I think if I would have survived the first day of such a job, then I would have died on the second. Actually that's not true because I wouldn't have turned up for work. I would have run away and joined the army or even the Foreign Legion. Anything. I just don't understand how people could endure such a thing. Try lying on the floor on your back and then traversing say 10 feet using just your elbows and heels. Then do 50 yards, or even 100 yards - in the street on hard surfaces - naked! It's still not as bad, not even if it's dark and somehow hot.

My grandfather was in a rescue party in 1966, after an electrical fault (or was it an accident they wondered?) raised an alarm. He had just finished a working shift and was at the head of the mine when the call came, so he volunteered with others to go back down. When they got to the bottom and went along a short way, the first thing they noticed was some bundles of what looked like rags on the floor of the tunnel, which were however smouldering, or smoking at least! This is obviously massive danger (methane) so they had to deal with this straight away. It turned out that the bundles of rags were all that was left of two men and a late teenage boy who had been electrocuted by high voltage and burnt to crisps and their clothing was what was still smouldering. One of the rescue party was only young himself - an apprentice electrician and so detailed to gain experience. He had a subsequent nervous breakdown and never worked again, or so it was said!

Terrible, terrible stuff indeed. Who in their right minds wants the return of coal mines and, like I said on another thread - who amongst the resentful left bewails lost opportunity in themselves mining coal?

However, by the end, or near the end and by the time of the ebullient showdown, this is some of what I saw and heard and have since had confirmed:

None of the new intake of young miners (late 70s onwards) wanted to be there. I can't imagine in fact that anybody would want to be there in any era (see above), but more so by far amonst those who are my age and generation. Nonetheless, by the time a lad was aged 18 or so, and so had a couple of year's experience of how to work the system, very few did a full week's work. Out of 5 working days, very many of them continually only worked four days. None of them seemed to suffer financially as a result. It was almost as if it was the done thing, well known and a regular culture of being a miner. Neither were their jobs anything other than secure (so they thought). I am only really talking about the younger workers, of my age, whom I have spoken to most. There may however have been a culture of time-off, throughout the age groups, as history wore on, though not I suspect among the 'old guard', the managers I have mentioned above. The old-timers were hard and proud men. There may even have been some growing resentment between the age groups as time wore on. I'll take that back though. I have no evidence for it and am being presumptious.

By this time, the 1980s, there wasn't any shuffling along on your back anymore. Not that I have been told, though it was still highly dangerous and uncomfortable I'm sure. Maybe in the very bowels of the mines, there still was.

None of the miners would ever go back or at most very few. Deep down, though often hard to extract, they are all glad the mines closed when they did.

Most all of the younger miners adored the strike. All the usual stuff. They were 'folk heroes', the oppressed, victims, etc. Even famous in a way. They felt part of something. They didn't want to go to work in the first place. To have peer approval not to do so............. It was all exciting for them. None of them starved. Young and single and previously lavishly paid, they all did ok enough in 13 months off work. Then, when the strike was over, none of them wanted to go back!

A drug-taking culture was penetrating the mining workforce, mirroring society in general. Smoking was obviously not entertained (mere possession of tobacco in any form, or any paraphernalia was still a dismissal, or even an imprisonable offence in law) but speed was being consumed with flasks of tea. So I have been since told. LSD too on occasion. No wonder some people are now psychotic. It may be an issue wholly separate from Thatcher and the mines, but how long would this have continued before an avoidable disaster?

There was a great deal of pilfering going on by the workforce. I imagine this to have been a long-held practise and probably mirrored in all the other nationalised industries. Clothing, boots, tools, cable, any engineering consumable. Much the same will occur today but with computer paper, ink, software and whatever else it is employees steal from work. Maybe I'm exaggerating or belabouring this factor but personally, if I employed someone and they stole a teaspoon, I wouldn't be impressed.

One thing about the mines is that they had everything at their disposal. If they needed anything, they made it themselves. I mean for the industry and the job rather than individually - though that as well! If they needed a certain crane or some other kit or tackle, they had the men and the skills and the machinery to make it. This loss of great skill among many is very sad and one of my bugbears generally.

By the 1980s, I heard the coal industry was costing the country a million pounds per day, which was maybe a turn of phrase in its accuracy. There was still plenty of high-quality coal and we had previously driven an industrial revolution and empire with it but now it was actually costing the taxpayer such an eye-watering amount. Obviously something was terribly wrong. I do remember being told at school, in the mid to late 1970s that British Steel, once a leader also, had the same distinction - losing a million pounds per day. Even back then, it seemed we were in rapid decline.

So apart from the belligerence of the Miners' Union, who believed they could take down a government (and this was Scargill's primary objective), it seemed obvious to me, even then, that things couldn't possibly continue in the same vein. Something had to give. It's common sense and logic, simple mathematics.

I was revising for and sitting O levels when Margaret Thatcher gained office. One milestone in life was matched by another. Thatcher and her government almost shadowed, it seemed, my emergence into adulthood, business ventures and then parenthood. If she hadn't become PM and Labour had held onto power then it can only be conjecture as to what might have happened. If the previous winter especially, and the previous few years generally were anything to go by, not very well. It seemed like everyone was on strike at one point or another, and often multi-actions were occurring together. I would go so far as to say that from about 1972 (the first oil crisis) to 1979, there was an industrial dispute occurring in at least one industry or section of it, at all times. The Transport and General Workers (everyone who wasn't mopped up by another specific union), the miners, the nurses, the Fire Brigade (the army, as relief, driving ancient Bedford 'Green Goddess' fire engines I remember), the print workers, the engineers, and etc, etc. I also remember the lights going out, more than a few times, and candles being hoarded and then running short. Schools had to close, councils were on strike, transport was disrupted, refuse collection stopped. Most infamously, the dead were starting to stack up in morgues, as even the grave-diggers went on strike. Rubbish began to pile high in the streets. How alarming was all that and how remarkable that it's all now overlooked, forgotten or unknown?

I was rather horrified to discover (in a school lesson) that Income Tax could be charged at 98% if one had the 'good fortune' to earn that much money. What would be the incentive to ever earn so much then? That's the most immediate question that springs to mind - anyone's mind. It was all vaguely depressing, sat there preparing for O levels as a means to get on and do well in the life ahead, only to think the state may take up to 98 pence of every pound I earn. There was also of course a 90%, an 80%, a 75%, a 70%, etc, etc, tax rate too, and in fact the very lowest rate of Income Tax was a punitive (in my mind) 33% of one's earnings. I think by 1979 the top tax rate had fallen to 'just' 83%. Terrrific!

The 1979 general Election was the first one I was really able to take a slight interest in, being then just 16 years old. I still wasn't old enough to vote of course but was at least old enough to begin forming a vague political position. That 98% tax rate wouldn't leave my mind, nor would electricity blackouts and the unburied dead. Also, I had begun to get the feel of the type of people who were the spokespeople of the left - union leaders and shop stewards and the like. I instinctively didn't like them. They were just the kind of loud-mouthed, bullying and boorish people I had experienced before - though every group contains them, not just the working-classes or the political left. Conversely, very many (most?) of the working-class people were not like that. In those days they were mostly hard-working and generally polite, especially the old-timers, the miners included or in fact especially. I felt sorry for them, in so far as I was able to at that age. They were drones, pushed and pulled at the whim of insincere bullies. That's how I saw a lot of it.

Still, I was experienced enough in the rhetoric of the hard left, living among them and knew that much of it was false. I've had to fill in a lot of blanks since of course but I'm glad that even then I could see through a lot of it. It may have been an advantage being still so young in one sense - but old enough to begin having valid opinions. Fifteen and sixteen years old still has enough childlike innocence and a clearer enough sense of morality and right and wrong. I'd already decided there and then that I didn't much care for the left, trade unions or a Labour government. In addition was the strength of feeling towards grammar schools, which I knew Labour were against whilst the Conservatives were, in theory, supportive of. This didn't really affect me - I was already there and soon to leave (and I never of course considered children of my own at that point or at least not conciously - but maybe subconciously) but it was one of the few things that was part of an adult political view I was forming. Whilst it didn't affect me in 1979, it certainly could have done 5 years earlier. Close enough then to be in my heart.

I was disappointed then to read here that MT was responsible for closing grammar schools. Not something I had remembered (or knew) or given thought to. I had already left school and was busy, though I now remember a poignant regret at the time as well as a feeling of relief - gratitude even. Definitely one of her mistakes then. Nobody is saying she was infallible, though I think it's a pretty bad mistake. However, on a little cursory investigation I find that the plan to abolish grammar schools was a Labour plan. Yes of course, I already knew this. Why then didn't MT and her government reverse the plans? I think that's a valid question but I read that the option to abolish or not was given to LEAs and most chose to take the option. I think she should have dug her heels in more on this one. In fact, on balance it remains a huge mistake and one that may be as equally destructive, long-term, as anything else.

I can't claim however to have taken a massive interest in politics or the 1979 election. I was revising for and sitting O levels and that more or less dominated all my thoughts and time during that spring of 1979. But, I heard Thatcher on the TV and was at least intrigued. She sounded like a no-nonsense woman, a bit like a solid and dependable aunt, who may be a 'bit of a dragon' but who you knew would run a clean and tidy ship, well stocked and capable. Compared to some of the drips in the Labour Party (they seemed to me to be weasely men) I may have had a feeling that she was going to bloody their noses. The only thing seemingly against her was - she was a woman. As has been said, maybe her success despite this fact was one of her greatest (in the sense of overcoming it) achievements. It's not great (or otherwise) in facing economic or social issues. It's neither here not there. As she said, she wasn't there to suddenly promote female causes, or any other causes, save sorting out the country and getting it back on its feet.

The fact she was a middle-class person and the offspring of small business people was her best asset - and quality. She was astute, non-wasteful, the epitome of a good and sensible housewife. That's how she seemed to tackle running the country. It's this that most endeared her to ordinary people, many in the working-class as much as her own class. It might not be cool and hip but most people didn't mind this, not in those days, even the working-class, hardly the coolest people themselves in any case.

So she won the election and we had a Tory government ..... which people I knew spoke of darkly. I won't pretend I took a massive interest (or much at all), but I knew even at that age that it was only 5 years previous since the last Tory gov't so it wasn't as if we were descending into some long forgotten and terrible dark Age regime. The Conservatives were merely the honourable Opposition, long-established and known. And the last 5 years of Labour were anything but a success, in fact it was rather depressing. I had also come across the term 'pendulum politics' and began to understand the public were fickle and would first vote one way and then the other. The only thing different this time round was the historic female leader. There was not at that time, fear of feminism, certainly not for me. I hadn't really heard of it, except for a vague awareness of the Sex Discrimination (at Work) Act - 1974 I think, which prohibited discrimination against hiring an employeee based upon their gender. Except crucially, for the coal mines. The Mining Industry was exempt from the discrimination clauses. No women were allowed to mine coal - virtually by law. I always found and find it ironic that at least half and often the most vocal campaigners against closing coal mines to be women, especially these days when they can't even claim impoverished miner's wife syndrome.

By 1981 the gov't policies were beginning to take effect and unemployment did rise sharply. I think we went to 3 million unemployed by summer 1981. I'm not sure exactly why. All the traditional industries seemed to remain at this point. We know now that those first two years doubtless contained certain drastic measures to cut waste and tighten the belt as well as setting out the stall for the main business ahead. MT knew she was in for a fight and prepared well.

One of the first things she did was increase the pay of the Police quite generously - 45% I've heard recently. Another thing she did was increase from a relative 'pittance' (so say ex military) the pay of the lower ranks of the military. The cynics will say she needed them on side, in anticipation of the days ahead. I'll say they are correct .... and exactly the things I would have done too!

The 1981 riots were a big thing and in fact 1981 was the year of a subtle change in British society generally. It's hard to put a finger on exactly what but a mood definitely changed. We were indeed dragged struggling from what now seems an archaic and old-fashioned 1970s and beyond, into the modern era. The War and the aftermath (despite the swinging sixties) seemed to finally disappear. The Labour govt's of the time seemed populated by old men from another age, no more typified than Harold Wilson smoking a pipe, while tales of Union Leaders going to summits at No 10 and enjoying 'beer and sandwiches' sounded like something out of a black and white film from the bleak and rationed 1950s. Margaret Thatcher might have seemed like a formidable, middle-class great aunt, but she quickly proved to be a whole lot more modern and smart than the hapless whingers on the left. That's how I saw it, insofar as I paid any attention to it. I began to be amused by her deconstruction of silly old men and gradually began to admire her. I also began to like the sound of Norman Tebbit too, possibly or probably because he reminded me of some of the teachers I had experienced (endured?) only too recently. When I found out he had been in the RAF I was more impressed and the remnants of a cockney accent didn't suggest the landed gentry, out of touch with reality, any more than Thatcher's roots did.

The Royal Wedding of 1981 helped to quell the riots and brought the country back together in quite an impressive display of patriotism. It was a timely thing, all the hand of Fate. To a lesser but still considerable degree, the cricket Ashes victory over Australia (Ian Botham and co) was also a national celebration. It quite captured almost everyone in the land. Silly maybe, but essentially British for a brief period. This brought a turbulent summer neatly to a close. We rumbled on uneasily until the matter of the Falkland Islands arrived in early 82. I always will remember a Sunday newspaper headline that shouted 'AT WAR!' ...... and that woke everyone up.

Another incident that prompted national pride was the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London by the SAS. I watched that live on TV in utter astonishment ...... but with a degree of said pride. It was another timely event in a way, being cynical, and MT milked the praise that ensued - though so she should have done.

Enough will have been said elsewhere of the Falklands conflict. It probably did secure the next election victory in 1983 and was again a timely thing, on this basis. Probably everyone knew that there would be some sort of showdown in this next term, between the gov't and industry, especially the miners. It wasn't long before mine closures were announced - nearly all of them, and battle was drawn.

I saw the Miner's strike up close. I was then 21 years old. I didn't get involved at all and never went to a picket line. Quite a number of non-miners did though mainly young people, from what I remember. I remember food parcels and collections for miners. I did donate a few pounds here and there. I went to many a benefit gig for miners in the local clubs. All the pretty girls were there for one! As it all drew out it became more ugly and desperate.

Certain actions of the Police went beyond the pale. I do remember the letters page of the local newspaper, signed 'anonymous policeman' whereby alleged police officers were writing in, boasting about the amount of money they were earning, courtesy of the miners. Many allegedly paid off mortgages with these earnings and went on exotic foreign holidays.

Meanwhile, striking miners were receiving £2 per week strike pay out of union funds. Whatever the rights and wrongs of their cause, this provocation was foolish and uncalled for. Eventually the newspaper had to issue a notice saying it would not print any more provocative letters such as these - maybe under eventual pressure from above not to do so. They printed them long enough to generate fury in some quarters however and a lingering bitterness ensued that may just about have burnt out by now. There was also extreme violence on picket lines, by both sides, that seemed unacceptable at the time.

The strike petered out and the miners seemed utterly defeated. They had inevitably each lost thousands of pounds in wages. It all seemed for nothing. In the background was the inevitability of mine closures after all - the whole reason for the strike - to prevent this. And so it transpired. I think the last mine in the area, maybe in Lancashire entirely, finally closed in 1992 though meaningful production had ceased some time earlier.

Untold millions of pounds worth of machinery and supplies were left underground, a seemingly terrible waste however you look at it. Within weeks, days even I was told in some cases, it was irrecoverable. Once regular maintenance ceased, many mines quickly flooded and became otherwise too dangerous. Many more millions above ground went for scrap. It's woeful, but maybe that's just me. Like MT, I hate waste and yet - is there nothing she could have done about this?

One thing the coal miners, in particular, fail to mention is that they were all compensated (by redundancy payments) when their jobs went. The sums weren't trifling, though did of course represent the time previously served in the industry. More than one or two miners used the money either to launch a business or to buy their home, in some cases maybe both of those things. Thus, whilst no doubt still decrying MT and the government, they embarked upon the very principles the government stood for. I know more than a handful of such people, not necessarily all ex-miners, who have done well enough by private ownership and capitalism and yet who are extremely vocal whenever talk of MT, the Conservatives generally, or the Royal family and co are mentioned. Given that these people are now aged 50 or even above, I find I can't take them seriously. In fact I distrust them entirely. They would impoverish everyone around them and destroy wealth from the top down ...... but only as long as they were suitably enriched at the same time. A foolish notion of course in principle, though in practise it has been seen to work (for them) quite remarkably well.

Seemingly to me, the biggest mistake sMT made was her desire to dismantle heavy industry, and thence much lesser industry as a consequence and crucially, fail to provide a real alternative. It may be that events ran away with her or that such an alternative wasn't possible. The latter isn't really an answer though. It's just delaying the inevitable. Maybe that's just it, as I said earlier.

Maybe some of that was because she was a woman and believed the workforce could retrain in 'softer' industries. That sounds too stereotypical though, especially after what I said earlier. MT was no feminist, nor a simpering maiden.

There are a few aspects to the loss of industry. The sheer number of jobs. The skills. The wealth earned by production of real goods. Moreover I don't think the menfolk (particularly) of Britain have taken well to the service industries. Certainly not the working-class, not en masse. I think we have always been a nation of makers, inventors and artisans. Young men in paricular have not been best served at all by working in call centres or flipping burgers in fast-food joints and so on. I accept that many people have been drawn into the world of IT. Thank goodness for that then. But for the IT revolution, there would have been even less jobs and opportunities. What would we have done then?

It seems to me that rather than dismantle and forget our once great industrial base, very serious (if painful) attempts should have been made to turn it around, into profit and better productivity. No doubt easier said than done, but one can't help but look at Germany. They didn't abandon the things they were good at and look at them.

What did happen under Thatcher is that very many people became initially unemployed, some directly, others indirectly and this then created a culture of a vast amount of claimants. The governmemt never really got to grips with this. As time progressed, very many more people joined the claimant queue. Being 'on the dole' was the thing to do, rather than a painful exception. At the same time, the huge rise in single mothers commenced, which was like the flip side of the same coin but three times more expensive. The government never tackled this either and it was in fact fiscally attractive for young mothers to be in this position. This has been documented elsewhere on this forum. It all seemed to be almost enabled to a degree. It very much continued under the ensuing Labour governments but its root was definitely in the 1980s. From there you get the emergence of the underclass of today, who themselves have never known work and may even have parents who have avoided working too.

In addition, it was in the 1980s that very many unemployed suddenly discovered that it was increasingly easier to 'go on the sick' by successfully claiming a disability. Again, whilst encouraged and expanded by Labour, it all began in the 80s. It is very difficult to avoid the suspicion that the more people are registered 'sick', the smaller is the number that the government has to admit to being unemployed. And unemployment was always one stick with which to beat the Conservative governments with, because it was a consequence of their (if necessary) actions.

It was correct to stop tax (and oil) revenue being squandered by unprofitable nationalised industries, but it was then foolish to chalk up a welfare bill of similar proportions (one suspects) and to then more or less stand by as this continually expanded. And would it not be better to spend (waste) this money at least employing people, even if they weren't breaking even, than to have them sitting around doing nothing at all?

The EU: MT stood against them and that was good enough in many ways. They're back with a vengeance now though. Not her fault of course.

She also saw off a South American dictator and helped to see off the Soviet Union. More big plus points. She immensely increased (or regained somewhat) our standing in the world.

As I said, I am broadly in support of MT and am glad she arrived. I lived through her tenures, from aged 16 to 27 and would be a liar if I said I had been disadvantaged. But, from a less personal view and looking at the long game, there are as I said, quite a few mistakes - or policy decisions, mistakes be damned.

There's also the other phenomenum from which I may suffer: my enemy's enemy is my friend. This is not to say I secretly regard MT as my 'enemy' also, but it would be right to say I regarded the Labour government of the the day (and massively more so these days) as the original enemy. One to be defeated no matter the cost. This is possible and accounts for maybe a little rose-tinting with regard to Mrs Thatcher.

There's also the possibility that I wouldn't wish to be to deprecating on this forum, containing as it does those who would strongly support MT. But it would be no good to lie either, on this basis or any other, so I have and will list again some of her mistakes.

Grammar Schools - big mistake.

Loss of industry; failure to really provide an alternative to that loss; acceptance of a large welfare dependancy; failure to tackle the single-motherhood phenomenum; promotion of a corporate mindset into everything - including now all the Civil Service. These are all quite damaging things. Their evolution and development have in many ways brought us to our knees.

The Poll Tax: This was another mistake, though not in my mind a huge one, but certainly an almost bumbling one. As much as anything this relatively trivial political issue split the nation all the more (just when she least needed to) and itself caused infamous riots once again.

Previous to this situation, local taxes were collected on a basis of property 'rates'. This was a situation that had in my mind, existed 'forever', meaning at least, for me, since the second world war! Probably before that. Everyone paid local taxes based in some way upon the property they occupied. We were certainly regaled throughout the debacle to ensue with the tale that the last 'Poll Tax' (as it was then called) was sometime in the 14th century!

Mrs Thatcher's 'poll tax' was more gently called the 'Community Charge', but was based upon the idea that everyone over the age of 16 paid the same (at least the same each according to the level set in each borough), rather than every property being charged. One can immediately see the disadvantages for poorer people - which would tend to be those with larger families and those all occupying one, and often a modest home. On the flip side, one could immediately also see the advantages to the more affluent. But exacxtly the same could be said about charging to property, as in the old rates system. The fact is, it's almost impossible to set a charge 'fairly' without advantaging or otherwise one type of family over another.

So why then tinker with it and cause such division? This is all the more telling for the fact that the idea was abandoned after several years of strife, and a return was made to taxation based upon property - except it is now called Council Tax (which doesn't inspire indifference) rather than the more innocuous sounding 'residential rates' of old. I'm sure nobody liked the idea of a rates bill, but people just quietly grumbled and got on with paying it. A whole lot of stress and strife was caused for seemingly no gain and yet with considerable resentment.

I do think MT was, despite her desire to raise the fortunes of the working-class (and so she did), somewhat ignorant of exactly how they behaved and what best suited them for 40 odd weeks of the year, gainfully employed. In addition it may be that she even mis-judged her own class by the time she rose to power. Have not the middle-classes changed at least as much as the working-class have? Have not the middle-class failed to grasp the decline of the working-class and even encouraged, and so accelerated, that decline? British society did begin to change considerably from the end of the 1970s. Was that because of Margaret Thatcher or in spite of her? It does seem to me that her perhaps idealised version of Britain (yet a noble idea) was that of her own origins, in placid middle-class Grantham. But did that exist any more in any case? If not, she mis-judged the British people. Having said that, it's an easy failing for anyone and even easier to comment upon in hindsight.

I apologise for the long and rambling post. Maybe the best contribution I can make is to ask whether anyone saw the (UK) Channel 4 docunentary on Monday evening (April 14th), entitled 'Margaret - Death of a Revolutionary'. Very good and in fact priceless for the clip of Neil Kinnock, when asked if, after 11 years of MT, Britain was a better or worse place to live. See for yourself and watch a man blatantly lie. ... od#3508791


PS: I gather that Channel 4 online isn't necessarily available to non-uk users, though I'm sure there will be a workaround.

The programme is available for 28 days from the original broadcast date (Saturday 12th April I think).
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Nathan » 22 Apr 2013, 19:27

Paul, I don't really have anything to add to that, but thanks very much for writing it - very informative!
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Elliott » 23 Apr 2013, 06:32

Indeed, a very interesting and nuanced account. You say lots of things that are useful for people of my generation who, really, know next to nothing about Thatcher's time in power.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Gavin » 23 Apr 2013, 07:58

Yes, I found it very interesting too, especially the part about the hardship of coal mining.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Paul » 25 Apr 2013, 22:46

Here are a few more comments from the blog posts of working class or 'ordinary' people:

Everyone knew the day would come eventually. But when the death of Margaret Thatcher was announced it didn’t lessen the impact of the moment.

I wasn’t always a fan. When I was young, being conditioned by the prevailing attitudes in the solidly socialist Labour area where I was being brought up, to denigrate Maggie Thatcher was not only the norm, it was expected. ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher’ was a familiar refrain in my school when she took office in 1979.

My mother was a Labour borough and county councillor and my father was an engineer at British Airways and senior trade union official in the TGWU as it then was. There was little love for Maggie, but my parents were old school and despite their absolute rejection and dislike of Thatcher and the Conservatives they didn’t resort to name calling, abuse or vitriol.

The turning point for me was when as a teenager my class won a competition at school and the reward was a trip to the Houses of Parliament. Coming from a political family I relished the trip, which was taking part on a Tuesday – Prime Minister’s Questions day. The trip around the Palace of Westminster was led by the Conservative MP for the constituency in which my school was.

For me the visit was magical. The history of the place and the events that had occured there, the sense of power that filled the corridors and meeting rooms, seeing famous faces of senior politicians walking past, entering the House of Commons from behind the Speaker’s Chair (and sneaking a quick sit down on the government’s front bench right in front of the dispatch box, just so I could say I had sat on a seat of power), and seeing just how small the chamber was compared to the impression pictures have constantly given.

But the highlight of my day was when the MP secured several tickets for the public gallery and I was given one. When Parliament convened and Prayers were being said I raced up the stairwell as fast as I could. I still remember the frustration as security checks delayed me getting into the gallery. But eventually I was in and took a seat just as Neil Kinnock rose from his to ask his first supplementary question of the session. He was on the attack about defence and Thatcher, in characteristic fashion tore him to pieces. For a young teenager this was exciting, heady stuff in a rarefied atmosphere in a forum that mattered.

Rather than find myself in agreement with Kinnock’s argument, I found myself agreeing with Thatcher’s position. I could not fault her logic, reasoning or the force of her argument. That was the day when I learned to evaluate an argument on its merits, not assume a tribalist position just because that’s what my side’s position happened to be. Mum and Dad were delighted that I started to debate them and challenge their thinking, and respond to their challenges with reasoned thinking of my own. I’ll never forget that day; Mum said to me that she would respect any viewpoint I held, including and especially those that opposed hers, so long as it was an informed one that had been developed by carefully examining the arguments on both sides.

As years passed my dislike of Margaret Thatcher was replaced with respect and admiration for her. Some people, those who detest Thatcher, wonder why. So I’ll explain.

My East End family lived on an urban council estate, tenants in a council house. While honest, loving and hard working, the pay wasn’t great and Mum and Dad sometimes struggled to make ends meet. As good parents do, Mum and Dad went without to ensure me and my siblings had what we needed. My earliest memories were of power cuts and the excitement of having candles lighting the house. Two things in my youth transformed our fortunes. Council house right to buy and privatisation.

Thanks to her principles and convictions – two things the preening, identikit lightweights that have infested Parliament since do not possess – Margaret Thatcher saw to it my family was able to climb out of reliance on the state and become stakeholders instead of clients. Mum left the Labour Party, having been sickened by policies that trapped people in dependency. Dad too left the party, and the union, but went further and switched his vote too. At last, hard work started to be rewarded in a way it hadn’t been before. Aspiration was no longer something to be sneered at or viewed with suspicion, it was something shared by many.

I saw and experienced how my family was presented with the opportunity to take personal responsibility and enjoy the freedom to better ourselves. My parents found they could do so much better with the state off our backs and more of their money in their pockets to spend as they saw fit. Labour resented it and opposed it at every turn, desperate to re-apply the stranglehold that had kept us down for so long.

Margaret Thatcher’s policies contributed directly to my family’s emancipation from the waste, spitefulness and harm inflicted by socialism. What she put in place has directly influenced my life and career. For that I will always be grateful.

It’s no surprise seeing the hatred and bile now being hurled by those whose viewpoint is the opposite of mine. Maggie did more than any other British leader to liberate this country from the socialist mentality that smashed our economy, saw the population held to ransom by unions, and was characterised by the demand for subsidies by (at that time) inefficient industries still wedded to socialist ideals despite overseas industries embracing efficiency and tackling costs to be more competitive.

Socialism is a vicious ideology, so naturally it follows the behaviour of its supporters can be relied upon to be equally hateful. The sickening glee with which the death of an aged woman who transformed this country for the better wouldn’t be any surprise to the Iron Lady. It would simply reinforce and evidence everything she said about socialism. No doubt she would dismiss their behaviour with the contempt it deserves and simply point out they don’t know any better.

We have lost our last principled conviction politician, a Parliamentarian who had a guiding philosophy and who was motivated by a desire to improve this country rather than service a narrow self interested agenda. We will never see her like again, much to the detriment of this country.

Thank you, Margaret. Rest in peace.
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Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Paul » 25 Apr 2013, 22:47

A child reminisces.
Posted on 09/04/2013

I really was a child of Thatcher. When she took office in 1979 I had just started walking and talking, by the time she left office I was a secondary school pupil. I’d never known anything else, and I remember that learning somebody else could be PM being odd. To this child the PM was Margaret Thatcher and Margaret Thatcher was the PM.

I have no particular attachment to her, but her passing has given me a certain sadness, probably because that one of the constants of my childhood is no more. What has upset me has been the reaction from the left, and I’m struggling to order my thoughts here, so forgive me if this gets a little disjointed.

I took no pleasure in the death of Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden, so I certainly will not take any pleasure in the death of Margaret Thatcher. All things end, and death happens sooner or later. To rejoice in the death of someone, well, I was always taught do as you would be done by, and I would hope that no-one will rejoice in my death when it comes. To plan a street party to celebrate the death of a mother, a grandmother and someone who devoted their live to this country is revolting, utterly without class. By the same token I will not celebrate the death of Dennis Skinner when his time comes, he has given his life to fighting for what he believes is right, I do not agree with him, but he has my respect.

What is most enlightening is the vitriol flowing from those who were as young when she left office as I was when she took it. Many were not born at all when she left Number 10. They know nothing, and I would submit that the ease of life they’ve had thus far is down in no small part to Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

Then there is the ugliness of the left, who crow about her death, who talk in serious terms about celebrating the death of the old lady. From my point of view I see Tories who supported Thatcher sadly shake their heads and look away. I guarantee you this, when Scargill’s time comes there will be no such delight from the old Tories. It is perhaps one of the least endearing traits of the left, and if anything their glee hardens my attitude from a person who looks at Thatcher and says ‘She was what she was’ to someone who thinks ‘thank God she beat you lot.’ I think this because if someone is prepared to gloat over the death of an old, infirm woman who had been robbed of her wits by the passage of time, reduced in her latter years to walking around like a zombie – and on a personal level, what a horrible, horrible sentence that must have been for a woman defined by her vitality – then they would think nothing of doing harm to the young and fit to further their agenda.

I found myself asking the question ‘what was she supposed to do’? I was alive during the Winter of Discontent, but am far too young to remember it. But I know the story, the rubbish piled up as high as a man in the street, the power cuts, the dead being left unburied, the rampant inflation, the IMF being called in. The country was in a choke hold applied by the unions. I write this not as some privileged public school toff, I write this as the son of a postman and a nurse who went to a standard comprehensive.

Then we come to the big set piece, the miners strike. I’ve heard so much vitriol of industry shut down, of communities destroyed. Let us not forget that Arthur Scargill picked the fight, his stated aim was to bring down a government that had been democratically elected with a massive mandate. What was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to roll over and submit to Scargill’s plan? Just as I take no delight in Thatcher’s death, I take no delight in the death of these communities, but the miners backed their man, they picked the fight. They lost. I think this perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s greatest ‘crime’; she won. There was nothing preventing the miners from unseating their evil leader (hell, if they can attribute evil to Thatcher, then why should I not attribute the same to Scargill?) and seeking a more conciliatory solution. As I see it, it is Scargill who killed the mining communities, but it is easier to blame the victor.

The industries had been nationalised, as the left demand, and they had been run into the ground, millions and millions of taxpayer’s cash was being pumped into those industries, and Scargill and his like demanded more and more.

You want to know what happens when the state spends money it doesn’t have? Look at Greece.

On the point of the miners, let us suppose that they had won and let us suppose that the country hadn’t disintegrated into military coup or some other horrible fate. What would they be doing now, these servants of carbon thirsty industry, as their self appointed guardians abandoned them for the new green god? The irony of these miners and steelworkers being thrown on the scrapheap for the good of the planet would be almost too much to bear. Especially as that scrapheap throwing would accomplish no good at all.

I remember the pre-privatised utilities, I remember an eight week wait for a phone line to be installed by the GPO/BT. I remember that a premium had to be paid for the line to be installed and to be used. I remember a premium had to be paid for an actual telephone set, and you got you were given. I remember forms having to be filled in and queueing at a counter to order a telephone receiver, and despite the fact you were paying through the nose for it, having to justify why one was needed. I remember that when a fault developed you could wait weeks for a repair to be effected. I remember the excitement in the 80's of getting a phone with push buttons, but we still had to have a BT phone. You couldn’t just go out and buy a phone. I wonder how many of those ‘celebrating’ in Brixton last night remember that? I wonder how many were born when that was the case? I wonder how many of them would believe that used to be the case?

I wonder how the mobile phone and internet revolutions would have played out with a nationalised telephone system. Would we be world leaders in e-commerce now?

No, she got much wrong. She was blindsided by Europe, and by her treacherous pro-European colleagues. Not all the privatisations went for the better – I still have no choice if I want to get the train to London, I can use only one carrier, I still have no choice who I buy my water from. The power companies have been allowed to get too big and I find myself being held to ransom with my electricity today by the power companies as much as my parents were by the NUM.

Without doubt the changes she made brought about a new consumerist Britain, and without doubt rampant borrowing by consumers contributed to our current malaise, but that is not Margaret Thatcher’s fault, that is the fault of the consumers who did not exercise sufficient self control.

On a more philosophical level, her tenure in Number 10 meant I grew up in a country where both top jobs were held by women, and I think that has had a serious effect on the fabric of this country as my generation move from the junior starters into the established drivers. Girls who grew up under Margaret Thatcher had a clear demonstration that a woman could run the show, boys grew up with a clear demonstration that a woman running the show was neither odd nor worthy of comment. That is a supremely important achievement, and many left-leaning feminists seem to want her airbrushed out of history, but she, Barbara Castle, Benazir Bhutto and Golda Meir showed that women could accomplish great things, and against the odds. For that alone I think she deserves a great deal more respect.
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Location: Lancashire, England.

Re: The Iron Lady

Postby Paul » 25 Apr 2013, 22:48

Personally, I am saddened to hear of the death of Margaret Thatcher. I expect much will said and written about her over the next few days. I also think that much of what will said and written will be quite polarised with as many against her as for her. All I can say is this;

When I left school in 1978, I and most of my friends expected to work in a lousy low paid job with little hope of breaking out and improving ourselves, far less starting our own businesses. When Thatcher came to power in 1979 she changed something, somehow she swept away a lot of these preconceptions and as a generation we saw that we could do anything we wanted. As a result I have no debt and am able to generate an 'unearned' income, I have effectively retired at 50. The only reason I work is because I choose to. I am not alone, many thousands of my age are in a similar position.

Thatcher didn't make that happen, she allowed me to believe that I could make that happen. She let me see that the state was not there to gift me everything but that everything was there for the taking. All I had to do was find the way. Margaret Thatcher was not perfect, she made some bad decisions, some good ones and some inspirational ones.

She was the best Prime Minister that I have lived under. There is no one in the current political class that even comes close and especially not in the Conservative party.
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Joined: 02 Aug 2011, 11:37
Location: Lancashire, England.


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