Thursday, 18 April 2013

We should think about burying Thatcherism...


In my view it's time to bury Thatcherism, despite Cameron and his belief that we are now all Thatcherites. Such a short-sighted comment can only stem from a person who (like the real Thatcher) is isolated from the realities of life. But we must learn from the mistakes of all the political factions and evolve management principles that are sustainable - and fair.

I don't suggest that the country goes to war within itself, but that a new and humane doctrine based on limited growth is found.

It is clear to my mind that Margaret Thatcher grew up in a quiet part of the country that had little to do with the main thrust of industry such as existed in the West Midlands and the north and other areas, and in a time when TV had still not made an impact. It is little wonder, therefore, that her simple homely and thrifty ways would seem (in 1979) to be the panacea for the governing of the country and why her Tory friends were captivated by her simple and direct logic. Domination of the working people was their desire and Maggie seemed to have the tools to accomplish that.

The Liberal Party's Ming Campbell recently declared that something did need doing in 1979 to put the country back on its tracks: the main two political leaders of the 70s - Heath and Callaghan - behaved too much like gentlemen to  be the type of leader to make a difference. In came Thatcher and made the decisions that were uncomfortable but in many ways necessary. The trouble was that her actions were such an utter surprise given the Tory notion of 'One Nation' that had existed for 30 years. She gave no quarter to ordinary people in the industrial areas who where already in difficulty in keeping afloat as a result of the sprialling cost of living. Yet she had income from the newly-piped North Sea oil and gas that could have been - partly at least - used to develop new industries.

What she seemed to forget was that not only did the people need to have a livelihood but that Britain itself needed to have a strong manufacturing base - as it had for 200 years. A strong country needs to make things to provide the basis of a sustainable economy. She favoured the banks and other financial institutions and we have since seen the legacy of that tendency. She believed we should all become entrepreneurs. All sellers and no buyers.

Looking at matters from a positive viewpoint, we have since learnt that having a leaner approach to running industry we can make a better product more effectively. Quality had been a problem until the 1980s, but since then the country has managed to considerably improve on quality. But one of the main  drawbacks is that such improvements have been accompanied by the steady acquisition of national business institutions by overseas developers. The British were encouraged to sell off their crown jewels (with the fruits of such sales probably lying in obscure off-shore accounts) and we now have few well-known names that remain British-owned.

She encouraged the sale of council houses (social housing) without initiating a re-building programme. Today we badly need social housing. She got rid of matrons in hospitals. And along came MRA.

The 30-plus years since 1979 have only served to increase the notion of greed, and we have seen even Labour politicans succumb to the temptations of the honey pot. The country is divided.

So, in 2013, we have inherited yet another Thatcher sympathiser as prime minister and - as leader of a minority party - presided over the hurtful reduction of benefits to those genuinely in need and yet (on the demise of Mrs. Thatcher) decided that £10m. can be spent on a funeral. It was not to be a state funeral, we were told, but in fact it showed every similarity of being one. George Osborne (the man with the purse-strings) cried at the funeral; was it because of the thought of its cost?

And umenployment continues to rise as we are told that we should work to avoid going onto benefits.

Commonsense has (temporarily, we hope) gone out of the window. I would hope that the nation will re-find its Bulldog attitude and ConDem the current government in no uncertain terms in 2015. They should be buried - along with Thatcherism.