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Obituaries

Okay, it's all over the news; no point in ignoring it.

I'm on vacation and I am not going to waste a valuable tourism day venting a third of a century of bile at a person who is, in any case, no longer present. But I'd like to draw your attention to Hugo Young's epitaph; as Thatcher's biographer and sometime interviewer he gives a fairly balanced appraisal. (And I'd like to remind non-Brits that strong leaders are more popular abroad than in their home land, because foreigners don't get to see the skulls that were smashed in the process of building that reputation for "strength".)

Besides, I'm in a contemplative, listening frame of mind right now. So if you have any particular memories of Thatcher, feel free to tell me about it in the comments.

179 Comments

1:

I found the following quote of Thatcher, from her 1993 memoirs, in Robert Neild's book: "A financial history of Cambridge University".

Its worth thinking about, both in what it says, and what it doesn't.

"I had to concede that those critics [those genuinely concerned about the future autonomy and academic integrity of universities] had a stronger case than I would have liked."

2:

Would you agree the UK was sick in 1979?

Though I can't agree that North Sea oil and 'Big Bang' financial market deregulation were sustainable solutions to the UK problems, what were the possible options available to a Prime Minister at the time?

3:

It was Mark Twain who said "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." That pretty much sums up my reaction to the whole business. May whichever afterlife she believed in prove fruitful (and may whichever deity she may have credited with existence not get their nose put out of joint when she decides to start re-organising things).

4:

After the Winter of Discontent, it was going to be someone who would have to deal with the trade unions, the publicly owned companies, and the high inflation rate - Thatcher just happened to be that person at the right time. The coal mines especially were going to fold up and collapse as soon as they cut off public funding, just like they did in the early 1990s when coal extraction was privatized.

As for the Financial Sector, what's wrong with that being a key area for the British economy? London's been a financial center for centuries, and was and is a natural place for that. If aggregation effects and returns to scale mean that *someone* is going to be a major financial center, you might as well make it your city.

5:

Her absurd hamming it up at Reagan's funeral will always stick in my mind.

6:

I find Craig Murray's obituary worth reading: he simply tells the personal interactions he had with her as a junior FCO civil servant.
http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/04/margaret-thatcher/

His accound of Thatcher reminds me of my impression watching interviews of Tony Blair: charming and brilliant chap, absolutely - you almost have to remind yourself: "unless you live in Iraq or Afghanistan".

7:

Reading this gave me a few thoughts.

Yes Thatcher was fiscally conservative and yes Scottish people are too. People call us tight. We're not tight, we're careful with money.
We appreciate the value of things and we get very annoyed (with ourselves) when we feel we have wasted money. I personally have bought things on ebay cheaply which turned out to be a waste of money. I keep one such in my desk drawer as a reminder.

However, Scots understand the value of generosity, we give more per head to charity than the english although we are probably more selective about it, I like to give to Cancer Research and the St Columbas Hospice in Edinburgh because both my Aunt and Uncle went in there with cancer. We understand that giving now while we can means we are more likely to get back later when we need.

We also understand the value of society, we help our friends and neighbours out because they will help us out. Scotland can be a harsh place, Winter on the East coast when the wind bites down in to your bones will make you appreciate a warm hearth and some company all the more.
Thatcher never understood society, she saw everyone as individuals to be clambered over on her way to the top.

That is why she failed so abysmally in Scotland.

8:

Would you agree the UK was sick in 1979?

Yes, but there were a variety of options for treatment available, ranging from aspirin (pat on head, carry on as before) through to amputation. Thatcher opted for amputation, downsized the UK economy by 10% and threw two and a half million workers on the dole in six months (that 2.5 mil was somewhere in the range 5-10% of the labor force) and trusted in the Invisible Hand to fix everything and get everybody new jobs. Oddly, 50 year old steel foundry workers who went into the family trade aged 15 straight from school and had never known any other life lacked the skills to become self-employed entrepreneurs, or even shop workers: we therefore had a huge unemployment/disability problem that lasted a generation, and she funded this from the North Sea oil tax revenue.

A better solution might have been to invest that North Sea oil windfall in modernizing those state-run steel mills and selling them off as profit-making operations. But that would have taken years, and Thatcher was in a blinding hurry, and not too concerned with the damage she caused along the way.

TL:DR; bull in china shop.

9:

@Brett_: 2008 is what is wrong with it. In general, it is just unsound for a country to obtain a large part of her revenues from finance, tourism or foreign aid; these are not production of wealth, just the shadows of it (in increasing order).

Anyway, Britain's aspirations to become an offshore fiscal paradise for the European Union do not fare well with her loyalty towards the USA, nor with her quasi-compulsive urges to divide the Europeans and play them against one another, 1800-style.

10:

I've never lived in any part of the UK. She was PM for all of my teens and a bit of my early twenties.

She was abhorrent.

At the distance from which I observed her, I remember particularly the astonishment I felt when she went out and started a war. The UK? AT WAR? It was a civilized country, I thought; civilized countries no longer do that sort of thing.

Alas, the vile Tory de-unthink-ified the idea of war.

I later learned about the destruction she wreaked at every level of society (which she claimed not to believe in, but shot at rather accurately). It felt like she had started a war on all human value. Her ilk soon enough came to take power in the two countries I've lived in.

11:

As for the Financial Sector, what's wrong with that being a key area for the British economy?

The problem was not so much that it was a key area, but that it was the sole focus of government attention. One of Thatcher's actions was to abolish the government's industrial policy, which promoted British manufacturing and exports. (Unlike France and Germany, which both have strong state backing for industry and which, ahem, build shit these days.) She thought we could rely on investments and banking. Trouble is, she assumed trickle-down from the bankers' table would enrich the rest of the country. It didn't, as witness the huge (and widening) wealth gap between the City of London and the rest of London and then London and the South Eat and the rest of the UK.

She and her heirs pursued ruinous foreign exchange policies that favoured banking but made it difficult for manufacturing-driven export industries to survive.

Then when things went tits-up for the investment sector in 2007 there was nowhere to turn.

12:

A side-effect of the big state sell-off and the asset-stripping mentality she fostered: the UK still builds cars. Lots of cars. It's just they're all badged "Toyota" and "Honda" (and a few "Ford"). IIRC the last independent British marques were sold to overseas investors in the past decade. Ditto aviation (British Aerospace wants to be seen as an American firm these days; even sold its stake in Airbus). Ditto rail (the only train builder left in the UK today is a small subsidiary of Bombardier), steel (India's Tata) and so on.

13:

I freely admit to having no clue how many steel foundries the UK theoretically needs, but I suspect the number is greater than zero. The comment about building shit is well taken. It doesn't need to be physical hardware, either; a better smartphone app or an ebook of clever SF stories count as real wealth just as much as a pocketknife or bottle of wine.

In the meantime, I'm off topic. *grumble, shake cane*

14:

I never lived in the UK, and was too young to care for most of her reign as PM. But one thing I will forever cherish: my high-school English teacher used to carry a pair of largish lead balls in his briefcase (Yes, lead. It's rougher and uglier than steel, and doesn't rust like iron would). I saw him holding them one day after class, and he asked "do you know what these are?" I said I didn't, and he said "these are Thatcher's balls."

15:

Amusingly for Ford, most of the Marques that have saved them at home are designed in Essex where Ford have one of their major design centres.

UK manufacturing us still surprisingly large. The crime is it is not larger and a fortune in oil revenues was wasted on millions of lost lives.

For that she caanot be forgiven.

Even more critically for the true believers. The Iron Lady who never did a u turn, might as well have been on a bloody roundabout. She talked up monetarism while criminally relaxing credit laws in 1984 and creating a Keynesian stimulus boom fueled on the backs of credit card debt. Something which laid the foundation for the mess 24 years later.

16:

I grew up in a South Wales mining village in the early 80s. My village, and the communities around it, have never recovered from Thatcher's policies.

I hated her then and I hate her still.

17:

Whatever you think of the status of the Falklands/Malvinas, it's not actually *starting a war* when the other side invades your territory!

18:

I was 14 when she left office. I'd never conciously known another Prime Minister. Just starting to be interested in politics, she was like a titan who overshadowed all and then she fell.

Although I can criticize and occasionally praise her individual policies, I can't sum her up as she will always be bound up in my childhood as my Prime Minister.

19:

I heard about Margaret Thatcher's death on the radio while shopping yesterday afternoon, which stopped me from doing a little dance for joy, my first reaction.

She and the government she led destroyed my professional career structure (by taking out the GLC which led to the destruction of the ILEA), put hundreds of thousands of people into poverty, weakened the trade unions to the point where they never really made a full comeback, and led the way for most of the Conservative crap that followed.

But on reflection she was pretty much irrelevant to modern politics, except as its creator, and I can't really get worked up about her death when she's effectively been out of it for at least a decade.

But remember the Comic Strip version of GLC. Don't go near her grave, a hand might come out and pull you down...

20:

She did a lot to make it even an option for Argentina though. The failed UN negotiations, the change of the Royal Navy to a coastal defense force (which made the whole thing end nearly in a complete military disaster for Britain).

21:

shunra @ 10
Excuse me, I hope this does not contravene the moderation policy, but who told you that lie?
She, whatever her many faults, did not start a war - the Argentine Junta started a war, by a military invasion.

They were encouraged by her proposed defence cuts, true, but that is another story.
Grrr.

Her major failure, there, was to continue with the defence cuts afterwards - same as every PM since has done.
We will lose the next one ....

As natural left-wing one-nation conservative (note all the lower-case, there!) I distrusted her from the moment she enjoyed destroying the small, but perfectly formed Brit space programme - because there was no IMMEDIATE money in it. She visibly jumped up & down on the wreckage.

Oddly enough she did the Trades Unions a favour - any strike, now, has to have democratic vote in favour - which make employers very careful.
"The Unions" did it to themselves, by wrecking Heath's much more modest democratic proposals, back in 71-2.
The same could be said of a lot of the wreckage she left behind – almost all of it could & should have been fixed earlier, but wasn't.

Which brings me to something – her predecessors & successors; & how it got like that.
I was born in 1946, with the PM’s (Attlee) constituency to my West & the leader of the opposition to the East. The first thing I remember of politics was the Inchon landings. When I was 9, my parents took the opportunity (knowing it was probably going to be the last chance - & it was) to go to an election meeting, at which the recently-retired ex-PM made (his last public) an address: Churchill. He should have handed over in ’52 or 53, actually – he was tired & had had at least one stroke by then. But, even then, he could hold a hall full to bursting (1500 people?) rapt with a few words – and the diction – once heard live, never forgotten.
From then on, I took an interest.

Anthony Eden: A total disaster. Everything he touched turned to shit, but with one exception (Suez) it didn’t show until years afterwards.

Harold Macmillan: Made one minor & one, domestic, major mistake – otherwise never put a single foot wrong. The mistakes were people; the minor one was named Profumo, the major one Marples. And things were looking up, life was visibly improving, social mobility was fairly free, it was the beginning of the 60’s of course.

Lord Douglas Hume: A stop-gap, SuperMac having resigned due to (as it turned out, temporary) illness. Suprisingly able, but didn’t stand a chance – If Macmillan had stayed on, I suspect the tories might have won the 1964 election. As it was, he was succeeded by. ….

Harold Wilson: Lampooned by Private Eye as “Wilsundra” (named after a notorious con-man of the time) Came across a totally untrustworthy, was an economist by training, but failed to “get a grip” on industry or the unions – neither of whom were actually interested in doing their actual jobs – which came home to roost under the Madwoman from Grantham. A sound & fury signifying nothing, probably. But he kept us out of the Vietnam war….

Ted Heath: A greatly under-appreciated man, finally got us in to what was then the Common Market – at the time a good move – and who tried, desperately to try to attempt to fix our ghastly industrial problems. Industrial management were not managing, some Trades Union leaders were attempting to run their own foreign policies, & no-one AT ALL, was “minding the shop”, but he bottled out at the last minute, calling an election rather than running the show, which let [ see below]
Wilsundra back in, to continue to mismanage the decline. He felt that his grip was going ( he also got dementia in the end) so he was followed by ….

Jim Callaghan: ( a.k.a. “Calor-Gas” ) Ex senior- CPO in the RN, stood no nonsense from anyone, but was not in office for long, whilst the so-called “winter of discontent” guaranteed that a right-wing tory clique led by “her” would win the ’79 election. The “left” only too plainly had a death-wish at this point. One small pointer, however. The Argentine Junta made threatening noises & naval movements in (I think) ’78. Callaghan sent two RN attack submarines South. Waited until they were on station, then told the fascists in Beunos Aires: “Come on, if you’re hard enough!”
That was the way to do it. But he wasn’t interested in domestic affairs, which was a serious mistake.

The Madwoman from Grantham

John Major: Nasty little man, with peculiar prejudices and strange priorities. Only kept in office, because the opposition was so utterly pathetic (Neil Kinnock) & also the “left” was still apparently dominated by communists & similar, so that the Labour party was fighting a two-front war, and had become split, by the temporary formation of the SDP.

Anthony Blair: Was ever so fair a promise so blighted by actuality? As he proceeded in power, his ego swelled visibly as did his arrogance & conceit.
The second Iraq war was probably what did for him. Of course, the size of his delusions is now apparent to all, particularly since he joined the group of serial liars that is run from the Vatican. Euw.

Gordon Broon: Kept us out of the Euro – phew! Otherwise, can anyone say a good word for him?

The present incumbent: An empty suit, containing a traitor.

22:

I only met her the once. At the works Xmas Do in Chequers - my Dad was the Chef there on secondment from the RAF. I was 9. She seemed ok.

23:

Charlie @ 12
Old song.
I hope everyone else has noticed how WELL those remaining British manufacturing industries are doing, with the same workforce, the same Trades Unions & non-British "Higher" management?
Tells you something. ( Doesn't it? )

24:

Reply to #21 Para the last - If we all work together, can we saddle him with the nickname "Toom Tabard"? (Scots for "empty coat")

25:

paws
Already taken by John Balliol, isn't it?
[ Yes, I do know some Scots' history! ]

26:

The steel mills did get modernised in the 80s but the new heavily automated modern mills employed a tenth of the labour force. British Steel employed 100,000 people in the mid-70s, some of them shovelling oresands into 1920s-era open-hearth furnaces by hand. Either 90,000 people were going to lose their manual low-skilled jobs or the company would continue to be subsidised to the tune of a billion quid a year forever to produce steel nobody wanted to buy. Even a revitalised steel industry was never going to be a mass employer again.

Same with the car industry, shipbuilding etc. Other people abroad with cheaper labour could build what used to be our exclusive domain, and automation chipped away at what was left. It used to take three men with strong fingers to install a car windscreen on a production line, now it's done better and faster and cheaper by a robot positioning system and glue dispenser.

The extractive industries like coal employed 500,000 men in the 1950s and 50,000 by the time Thatcher came to power because most of the economic coal had been dug up and burnt and again automation had drastically reduced the number of men needed to get the coal that was being dug here and elsewhere, like Poland where wages were much lower.

The old mass-employment jobs had gone and good riddance to most of them as dangerous, toxic and health-destroying. The bad news was that there were no real replacements other than in the much-derided service sectors or in businesses selling rocks to each other (tm Heinlein).

27:

Whatever you think of the status of the Falklands/Malvinas, it's not actually *starting a war* when the other side invades your territory!

I used to think that.

Then the stinky background began to leak out under the 20 and 30 year declassification rules.

Turns out Thatcher tried to sell the Falklands to the Junta. In 1980-81. Heseltine was sent to explain the new deal to the islanders and was just about pelted with rotten fruit. This caused a re-think, which the Argentinians interpreted as Perfidious Albion Holding Out For More Money, with pretty much inevitable consequences (you do not want to convince a bunch of macho militarists that you're stabbing them in the back while simultaneously drawing down your military posture in the region).

Shorter version: the Thatcher government could have avoided the Falklands war if they'd just continued Jimmy Callaghan's approach from the mid-70s. ("Funny you should mention the Falklands, we've got an SSN on exercise in the area right now. Nice aircraft carrier you've got there: shame if anything happened to it.")

28:

Already used for him yes. That doesn't mean we can't recycle. ;-)

Also, the translation was in deference to the international community.

29:

Charlie @ 27
Precisely!
As I noted in my short review of the PM's ....

One question, generally.
I previously noted that "the left" in the 1970's seemed to have a death-wish - and got it when she came to power. And that a lot of things needed fixing/updating/modernising in the period approx 1969-79
But none of it was done, followed by the slash-&-burn tactics used by Hilda.
Even though I was alive & watching at the time & it was pathetically obvious that things needed doing, nothing WAS done, until it got so bad, that her "solutions" were adopted.

Joke from about 1978: "Thatcher is being paid by Moscow & Scargill by the CIA"
Not so funny, when you look at the lunacies that both of them were perpetrating.

30:

Oops. supplementary to self @ 29

That was the period when I got called a fascist warmonger - for suggesting, mildly (for me) that Scargill was a commie nutter [He was & is]
AND
That was also the period when I got called a commie stooge - for suggesting, mildly (for me) that the Madwoman was an ultra-right nutter [She was - remember her attitudes to Mandela & Pinochet]

There seemed to be no place for any political centrist moderation, anywhere in Britain at that time, & it was not pleasant.

31:

In my parents' generation there was a saying "Those who aren't of the left when young have no heart, those who aren't of the right went old have no brain." While I don't actually agree (Tony Benn is staunchly of the left and certainly has a brain, whether or not you agree with him, it's hard to say he doesn't think deeply for example), it's a useful aphorism.

To my mind, Maggie single-handedly smashed that for a generation. There are lots of people around my age, (approaching 50, not dissimilar to OGH) who are polarised one way or the other, have been since their youth, and are unlikely to ever change.

I do care about her political legacy. From my perspective, the ruin and inherent weaknesses she left behind after selling off the family silver and turning us into a monoculture almost completely dependent on the financial sector to make money. That may have been helped by later choices and decisions, and international events, but she started it.

I appreciate there are other points of view but that's my take. There are personal bits too, but it will get far, far too long for a blog post. It might make a good novel.

While I wasn't out partying last night it was the best news I've heard in a long time. And while my sympathies go out to her friends and family, my personal reaction was one of instant and abiding joy at the news.

32:

Why rejoice? The damage is done, was for long. Thatcher's death will change nothing to that, and is no punishment.

I just have my own mental newspaper healine "Thatcher joins Pinochet" and be done with it.

33:

Whilst your comment is correct enough, the relevant question is, how well did she manage the decline and deal with the suddenly impoverished people?
Answer - she and her government didn't. They left them to rot and demonised those who got uppity, the continuation of which you can see in the media today.
Sure, there were YTS schemes or the like, but the fundamental fact is that large parts of the country had their local employment removed and nothing useful done about it. They couldn't all move to London, for instance.

The cunning and footloose managed to sort something out for themselves - one bloke I met through work had finished his apprenticeship in the Rotherham or thereabouts coalfields when they were shut down in the mid-80's or so. Because he was young and ambitious and pretty clever he was able to turn that apprenticeship into a better job in another area of industry. But that left a lot of older people, untrained youths and people with less ambition and luck out in the cold.

But I'll say one thing for her government - they changed their minds on their economic policy when it turned out not to work. They abandoned monetarism after a year or two when it turned out to be wrong, whereas the Condems are still pursuing the same, erroneous economic policy after 3 years.

34:

If you are minded to rejoice at the end of Thatcher I think the time to have done so was following a Labour party victory at the 1983 General Election.

35:

" and led the way for most of the Conservative crap that followed."

Sorry, make that Conservative / New Labour / etc. crap, the big sell-out of the welfare state and the poorly paid by successive governments regardless of alleged political alignment.

Re the points raised by others on the folly of building your economy on banking, the biggest problem with it is that if the economy tanks you have no fallback position, you can't get out of it by manufacturing more etc. and even if you could nobody would want to import your goods, because they make their own cheaper.

36:

Two things come to mind - given I was born in 1980 I don't remember that much.

1) Being confused at a very young age that men could be prime minister (after seeing some film in which a child's father was PM). Having only ever seen Thatcher as PM, I'd kind of assumed it was something women did.

2) Police cars going past my house to the polling station. Not seen that since...

37:

I used to get it in the neck as a young girl in primary school because we shared the same first name! Until of course her son suffered a navigation failure on the Paris-Dakar(?) and I could return the favour to my primary irritant.

What's struck me listening to all the talking head over the last 24 hrs, is the apparent fault of the 'unions' for the under investment in industry. As if there was no other group in loop. I'k sure Greg will come and shout at me, but IMHO Uk industry has all ways seemed to struggle with re-investment against grab the money and run.
There is of course a more complex back story here TL:DR.

The sound bite will for ever be king.

38:

There's a reason why almost none of the old British marques of car now exist, you know: they were crap and everyone knew it (including the car makers themselves). Japanese cars are cheap, high quality and very well designed; it is no secret that the Australians have pretty much abandoned Landrovers in favour of Toyota Hilux and Landcruisers as their favoured outback vehicles, simply because you have less trouble with them.

Similarly in most cities UK, the Toyota Avensis is the minicab of choice because it lasts, is cheap and easy to repair and costs less to start out with. Rover cars were never used as minicabs where Japanese makes were available because Rovers were rubbish in comparison.

Propping up a failing company with Government money is an absolute hiding to nothing; as soon as you start down this road, you don't ever stop. Better to let the evolutionary failures snuff it quietly and move on.

39:

I'm assuming you would include Northern Rock, HBOS, Lloyds and RBS in that.

40:

FDR saved out of control capitalism by checking its excesses. For his trouble he was hated and despised by the Right, the very people he saved.

Reagan/Thatcher saved the unsustainable welfare state by checking its excesses. For their trouble they wer hated and despised by the Left, the very people they saved.

41:

When my sister was about 4, she saw the Statue of Liberty on TV and was convinced it was of Thatcher...

I can't help but wonder at an alternate timeline where we have a 150 foot tall statue of Margaret Thatcher in NYC...

42:

And I'm sure Rolls Royce got a good handout or two. Now it's a world class enterprise using modern high tech selling engines all over the word.

As for Daniel Duffy #20 -I think you're objectively and subjectively wrong in every way possible. Welle xcept for FDR of course. Under Thatcher welfare spending rose, millions out of work etc. It apparently peaked in the early 80's, stayed high throughout much of the 80's, peaked at a higher level in the early 90's, and didn't really drop until the late 90's. So however you look at it we had a decades worth of welfare expenditure higher than in the 70's, because of erroneous economic policies.
Here's a chart:
http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/uk-welfare-spending-in-one-easy-graph.html

43:

Modernized robotic factories would have resulted in massive unemployment in any case with the introduction of automation. Its a process that contiues to this day, even the cheapest third world labor cannot compete with it. Which is why industry is returning to the US:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-insourcing-boom/309166/

At one time, most Americans worked on farms or in the agrigultural sector. Mechanization changed that so now only 5% work on farms. And we can feed most of the world and over feed ourselves.

At one time most American workers were employed on the factory floor. Automation changed that and robotics/AI continues to change factory work so that only 5% of Americans need to be factory workers. And we can outproduce the world at prices cheaper than third world sweatshops.

So what do we do with the other 90%? Sell each other insurance?

44:

Sell insurance? Yes, that seems to be what the right wing bampots want us to do.
Actual socialists, left wingers etc have had an answer for decades - reduce the hours worked whilst keeping most people in work, increased holidays etc. Other possible answers include a kind of minimum living income that you get automatically, enough to keep you alive, kind of like a welfare system is supposed to do. Then if you want to have a more exciting time with more money you can go and do work such as fixing the machines or sorting out blocked pipes that the machines can't reach.

However such a response requires an equitable distribution of the products of such an economy, and given the work being done by Thatcher's heirs on screwing the poor, lowering wages, working longer hours, it seems unlikely that this will take place in the near future. Especially with the way income and wealth are being concentrated upwards.

45:

All true - About 1976, my Dad's boss bought an "Austin Princess"; it spent about 4 of his first 6 months ownership at the dealership. Still, the Rover 3500 they lent him was a nice car.

About 1990, I met a minicabber who had a Rover 820. He had a similar story about his ownership except that the dealership didn't lend him a better car.

46:

Some "handouts" worked (Nissan in Sunderland, for example) and some didn't (British Leyland in Bathgate) although that one was before Maggie's time and it was a straightforward Government-owned and controlled enterprise. Other government-supported manufacturing lasted for a time like the oilrig platform yards in the north-east of Scotland in places like Nigg but they died as North Sea production fell off its peak and the demand for rigs and platforms decreased.

There was another feature of the 70s and 80s folks don't remember much about, inflation. A lot of strife in employment was due to annual demands for double-digit percentage wage increases to keep up with double-digit percentage increases in prices. Labour's Winter of Discontent in 78/79 was mainly due to this situation when their wage and price freeze deal with the union bosses fell apart since it couldn't really be maintained.

47:

"I used to think that."

I expect you're being a bit subtle for me and I'm just not smart enough to infer from the rest of your post what you think now. What do you think now? Presumably that she *did* start the Falklands war?

48:

No, wait! Not post yet! No! My post above (47) should have had a bit more to it, along the lines of "...via provoking the invasion by not maintaining a credible deterrent."

49:

Something had to be done. She did something. Therefor she Saved The Nation. QED & HUZZAH!

Whilst we were certainly a basket case in the '70s, the fault lay at least as much with sloppy, amateurish and confrontational management as with the unions.

50:
And I'd like to remind non-Brits that strong leaders are more popular abroad than in their home land, because foreigners don't get to see the skulls that were smashed in the process of building that reputation for "strength".

And for younger readers, it seems the past is a different country in this regard, too.

A friend who is currently working in Newcastle describes with surprise that while older staff who lived throught the Thatcher era are "divided" in their opinions, younger colleagues have overwhelmingly positive views of her.

Because of this, I think obituaries for such figures in the public eye, hagiographies need to be avoided in favour of more informative discussion of someones role in history.

51:

Wasn't the domination of management by accountants one of the biggest problems with postwar British industry, as accountants don't have the inclination to invest in new technology that increases productivity and improves competitiveness?

52:

m @ 37
No, I won't come & shout at you.
Some of "the unions" were as mad as the female from Grantham - trying to run foreign policy & fraternal greetings to Soviet countries, rather than, you know, actually looking after the interests of their members.
And "management" was equally bad - trousering their large pay-packets, & not actually, you know: "managing".
The epitomy of that disastrous era must be the Austin works of British Leyland, with "Red Robbo" the demonised shop-steward (he was quite mad) and the ghastly "lord" Stokes, selling inferior stuff to Cuba, whilst running down & starving of money the one part of the "empire" that actually made good cars: Rover, of Solihull.
Pot = Kettle.

@ 38
Not true - see my comment on Rover, above.
Fortunately, part of them survived, though the saloons were killed off by more wonderful British mis-management, L-R are still around.
Your use of "rover" refers to the re-badged Austins, made at Longbridge - be careful with nomenclature, here! See pictures below.

paws @ 45
A real Rover looks like these or, perhaps like these and accept no substitute!
Unless, of course, it is one of these, instead or even This one but that's mine, so keep off!

53:

Even the final Rover 75 is nice. My MG-ZT (which is mostly a 75, with different trim and some tweaking) is a very nice long distance cruiser, able to drive from Southern Germany to Southern England without me feeling dead afterwards. But if I hadn't actually thrown a hire 75 round the Wicklow Mountains first, I'd never have considered it.

I still would be very dubious about the 25 and 45.

54:

Not accountants, more a longstanding culture of moving upwards to the aristocracy. SO you made your fortune and sold out or married into the landholding aristocracy. That and a cultural dislike of more 'american' practises. A lot of the top management seemed to be unaware that the British empire was ending, others entered faustian pacts with unions without realising what they had gotten themselves in for. Others again were just incompetent.

The accountant dominated short term thinking is more a product of Thatcherism.

As for inflation in the 70's, there are various causes of inflation, in that case it was oil price rises. Gordon Brown was so traumatised about it that he boasts of keeping wage inflation low during his time as Chancellor, never mind the actual fact that this was paid for by increased benefit payments to working people and families, in effect subsidising low wage jobs.

55:

I'm from the US, so I'm legitimately not sure what you mean when you say that France & Germany "build shit" since I am not overly familiar with their work product: Do you mean shit as in "stuff", or shit as in "garbage"?

56:

The Falkland Islanders were had their citizenship effectively revoked (from memory, unless you were first or second generation British you were suddenly denied a British passport, with the obvious implication that Falkland Islanders were no longer welcome home). The selling was meant to be symbolic, though -- it was under the agreement that Britain would be given an indefinite lease such that the Islands would be Argentine in name only. And certainly, these mixed messages don't deny Argentina's very real culpability in initiating an invasion. I mean, to take blame away from Argentina is to presume the Argentines were perceiving subtle signals from the British, but if they were really sensitive to those signals they would have waited another month for the British aircraft carriers to be auctioned off. Instead, the Junta made war to soon and a carrier was redeployed into service to handily defeat the Argentine Airforce. (On this occasion, the Argentine Airforce and Army decided not to participate in the war, thus disencumbering themselves of a candid victory. No disrespect meant to the RN.)

57:

All I can say is, "Sham WOW".

http://youtu.be/QwRISkyV_B8

(But seriously they're still industrial powerhouses.)

58:

Something happened in the 70s. It was less to do with thatcher than people think.

For thirty years after ww2 the west had stable growth, full employment, rising living standards, only two minor recessions, falling inequality withe ratio of highest to lowest paid in society at less than 10 to 1. This was the Bretton Woods era where central banks limited banks luquidity ratios to 2 to 1. There were limits on how much debt banks could conjure from thin air and banks had to via the corset retain deposits at central banks equivalent to 50% of the debt they created. The money supply was kept on an even keel via central banks creating money directly with no parallel leveraged debt.

Thatcher, Reagan and Nixon nuked this system and through reforms like abolishing credit control in banks and allowing the big bang, allowing banks to offshore balance sheets through special purpose vehicles etc and worst if all abolishing reserve limits. The end result was of course massive inflation, massive unemployment, huge stagnation in living standards and eventually the 2008 crash. This is the legacy of allowing banks to leverage debt at 50 times or more than equity in a bank.

The real question is how did this happen? Reagan, thatcher etc , the IMF and many other European powers allowed these things at the same time. Some of this will be the influence of Milton Friedman and the Chicago school. But was there an active conspiracy to supress living standards and enrich bankers?
The real legacy of Thatcherism is that Governments have to subsidise employers who don’t pay their employees a living wage. In the UK, for example, the government spends £23 billion per year on the tax credits it pays to working families. Then there’s the £4 billion per year in housing benefit given to households with at least one person employed. And, to keep wages low and its workforce compliant and insecure, the private sector needs an army of unemployed – again financed by the taxpayer. As Margaret Thatcher’s chief economic adviser in the 1980s, Alan Budd, admitted to The Observer in 1992:
“….......... the 1980’s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers. Raising unemployment was a very desirable way of reducing the strength of the working class. What was engineered – in Marxist terms-was a crisis of capitalism which re-created a reserve army of labour, and has allowed the capitalists to make high profits ever since...........”

Thatcher is to be hated and spite and bile even after her death are appropriate. I shall be partying outside st Paul's next wed.

59:

Bellingham: We've had this conversation (or something a lot like it) before. The Rover 75 (and the MG ZT which you and I drive) is probably the best car ever to carry a Rover badge, P5, P6, Land, and Range included...

...but back to Thatcher...

I've been having this conversation elsewhere, sometimes with the same people, with monotonous regularity and the portrayal of industrial relations in the pre-Thatcher era is always the same caricature of Evil Union Barons, single-mindedly and with malice aforethought engineering The Downfall of Britain while simultaneously trousering everything they could get.

The truth is that British Industry on the whole got the union leadership and labour relations it deserved, and the excesses of the unions were pretty much without exception reactions to the excesses of management and owners like Sir Bernard Docker with his castle in wales, his trophy wife, and the succession of opulent Daimlers (gold plate and zebra skin upholstery[1] FFS) he had built for her, all funded by a succession of business expense claims, tax write-offs and other such shenannigans which eventuallynled to his removal from the BSA board.

Compare and contrast with West Germany where (as OGH explained above) Trade Unions enjoyed power and levels of participation in decision making which unions in the UK could never have dreamed of, but managed to develop a co-operative, non-confrontational model of industrial relations and everybody did (and on the whole continues to do) very nicely indeed out of it...


[1] "Because Mink's too hot to sit on..." as Lady Norah famously explained.

60:

As for the falklands. The islanders should either be British citizens or Argentina citizens. What the hell is a protectorate? If you are a citizen of a country you abide by its laws, pay its taxs and are entitled to defense by its armies.

Anything else is encouraging all the shiny tax haven et, idiocy etc that Charles stross points out in his monsters from mars article which was brilliant.

Thatcher and the uk government could have avoided that war immediately by having the Falklands made part if the uk and recognised as such by the UN.
Anything else was looking for a war to deflect domestic public opinion of the 17% inflation and 3 million unemployed back home at that time.

61:

we didn't lose the fleet down to luck.
the Argentinians had a carrier, a proper carrier.
a colossus class from the back end of WW2
it carried 21 aircraft.
if the wind had been 4kt higher on one particular day it could have launched its full airstrike with maximum fuel and weapons.
the argentine pilots were very good, the exocet worked and our defences were leaky.
because of those cuts- scrapping our proper carrier
all we had was harrier,
im wondering if that Antarctic resource treaty had anything to do with the U-turn on the sale of the Falklands?

62:

I thought a protectorate meant that if someone attacked it the 'protector' was obliged to go in and give a slap.
weirdly that didn't seem to apply in grenada

63:

I agree, the damage was long done. But emotional reactions aren't usually logical, they don't understand the impact of history.

She had a massive direct impact on my life throughout the the 1980's. I find it harder to measure the impact since then but how much of the country's political dialogue has been shaped by her since then? Whatever your politics it's hard not to see her words in how the Tories speak and act but it's equally hard not see her words in the dialogue of Blair and Brown. We're not seeing Milliband so directly affected by her words - but we're not actually seeing much policy discourse from him at the moment (not saying that's particularly bad now, he's acting like a mid-term leader of the opposition, exactly what he is).

Whatever the reasons, my emotional response was still joy. There may be many reasons it's an outdated, illogical response, but that doesn't mean it's now how I actually reacted.

64:

By "build shit" I mean stuff like Porsches, Ariane5 heavy lift space launchers, Alsthom's nuclear reactors, Airbus 380 super-jumbos ...

Stuff the UK has to import these days.

65:

There is one original British car company still going, Morgan. Although technically they aren't still going as they don't seem to have left the 1930's.

66:

So where does 007 get his Astin-Martin? Does Q make them special for him?

67:

Para 7 - s/Rover/Longbridge in the comment you were replying to then. I still say that that those "build standards" were what basically killed BLMC (or whatever else it was called instead of actually using the effort to make better vehicles instead of new names).

I've travelled in a "MG" ZT-T, which was impressively well assembled, well apart from someone having forgotten to fit the suspension with any springs!

68:

Aston Martin has been owned by some pretty odd people over the years.

The last I heard of the ownership of this 'British ' Mark was in November of last year and I was sufficently amused to bookmark the news item ..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20484682

" Does Q make them special for him? " Not unless Q is a code designation for a cabal of foreign investors.


Actually it wasnt just the car industry that was rotten back in the era that was to become Thatchers Theme Park it was just about the whole of British manufacturing industry.

69:

Looking for a war? The British government was well aware of Argentine frustrations, but it was as surprised by the invasion as the general public and certainly wasn't forming a conspiracy to encourage war. If they were, they probably wouldn't have been actively selling-off their fleet and making deep cuts to the military budget at the same time.

I mean, are you intentionally being this obtuse?

The mixed policy by the British is more readily understood as different departments working towards sometimes contradictory goals. Remember the USSR? Most of the concern was towards propping up NATO commitments against the launch of a continental invasion.

70:

M. Harold Page @17 and Greg Tingey @21: the thing about war (any war) is that it represents a failure of diplomacy so large, that a state or less organized group is willing to put its own soldiers in harm's way to correct the matter.

Sometimes the failure is due to an intractable enemy. This happens, and has happened several times even in my lifetime (mostly in the form of what the people in power call "insurgency" and the rest of us see as "throwing off the yoke of oppression", but not exclusively in that way.) But it is a failure, nonetheless, because it means that the individuals comprising the state (or group) are guaranteed hardship, at least for the duration. And no one can predict the duration.

Thanks for confirming this, Charlie, with your comment @27. I didn't know these details, but it fits into the general shape of what it takes to make a war: at least some level of lies and intractability, that could (almost always) have been different.

I objected in my comment to Thatcher's breaking of what felt at the time, probably inaccurately, like a nascent taboo on such actions.

This was emblematic of her view of human individuals: we just don't matter to her. We're merely the little people. Whether we live or die is of no consequence, nor how we live or die. Details such as our jobs, our health, our savings were entirely uninteresting to her - it simply didn't enter into her notion of governing.
This was the antithesis of government by and for the people - this was a mining of people (and of The People) for profit of various kinds, destined for most UNvaried hands.

And that's why I mentioned that war, rather than the other horrors of Thatcher's time in office and her ultimate legacy of our governments strip-mining everything. It's the ultimate failure of imagination, in a situation where lives are at stake and imagination was not even given a chance. All other details fall under the same heading: a dereliction of her duty as PM of working for the people, imaginatively and loyally.
And it worked so well for her (in the short run) that just about everyone else seemed to want a turn at it.

We'll get to pick up the mess now.

71:

Our government was and is aware of the contentious nature if the Falklands. At any point it can resolve this by making them full British citizens. That is what causes the ambiguity.

72:

There was no such failure of imagination. Charlie brings up the offer to sell the Falklands to Argentina (and declines to mention that it was on a basis that they would be leased back to Britain). That was an imaginative solution. Likewise, war was never declared: Argentina and Britain didn't pursue economic sanctions against each other, and the action was limited to a very discrete theatre. Argentine civilians were not in the line of fire, and Britain did not land troops on Argentine soil (likewise, Argentina did very little to threaten Britain). As far as territorial disputes go, it exemplifies great restraint. The greater tragedy is that no other modern or contemporary war has resulted in so little loss of life or damage to livelihoods.

After all, what mess is there to be picked up?

73:
And for younger readers, it seems the past is a different country in this regard, too.

Now the interesting question is, who is more objective[1], the people who had first hand experience of the events, but who might be set in old stereotypes, or the new generation, who might be able to look at it rationally[2], but might also have been subjected to years of subtle, err, brainwashing by a one-sided narrative.

But that's one of the common problems for historians.

Personally, while I'm quite in favor of terminating non-sensical subventions, like the "Kohlepfennig" and its ilk for German coal mining[3], terminating on short notice without providing alternatives is insanity.

And then, there are ways of doing it and ways of doing it, e.g. explaining the protesters' concerns as genuine but some changes as nonetheless necessary, differentiating between workers and some union leaders might seem manipulative, but well, to some extent manipulation is what politics is about, and at the very least it keeps energies somewhat productive.

Last but not least, anybody who is on the record with "there is no such thing as society" is heavily invited to look up what Conservatism means and how it differs from Classical Liberalism etc.

[1] Screw the word from the dictionary, hmkay.
[2] Come to think about it, screw that one, too.
[3] Actually, describing the local structure of politicians, industry and unions in polite terms would be difficult for me.

74:

That's not how the situation played out at the time. It was a revision of citizenship laws which created an ambiguity, a circumstance which defied the efforts of the foreign office, but at that time there wasn't much significance to granting Falkland Islanders full citizenship.

Contentious? Sure, but not in any way that would directly lead to war. There are plenty of situations where governments will loudly and popularly decry while doing absolutely nothing to resolve them and there's some stability to that position. There was little way the British could have known Argentina would invade in 1982 over 1992 or 2182. Further, the resolution of the Antarctica debate as well as the impending Argentina-Chile conflict signaled that the conflict was entirely resolvable given diplomacy and time.

75:

shunra @ 70
Be VERY careful in your choice of words [1]......
And you have to also remember that the Junta were desperate for a distraction (as Kirchner is right now, except she can't try that one again, actually) because, even with their fascist terror, and murdering many of their own people, holding the lid down was getting very difficult.
Yes, the Brit nuanced response was probably much too subtle - it was certainly so for the Falklanders - but it was an attempt at diplomacy, ta AVOID a war.
The exact opposite of your interpretation.
[1] Just because there is an "insurgency" (your phrase) it does NOT necessarily mean that the aims & objectives of the campaign are justified, or that the "insurgents" have popular support, or that their "cause" is STILL "just" - even though it might have been, once upon a time.
Classic case in point: ETA, once Spain had democratic guvmint, & especially after the failed coup in 1981.

76:

As for the Financial Sector, what's wrong with that being a key area for the British economy?

I'd rather have quantum physicists researching into quantum physics, not going into quantum finance because they can't get funding for quantum physics. One enables you to understand, manipulate — and perhaps improve — physical reality. Isn't that more useful than finance? I've got clever friends who have gone into finance because they could not earn enough, or in some cases anything (no grants), in science and engineering. It's such a waste of brainpower.

77:

The first export of France is aerospatial transportation (space rockets and airplanes, mostly Airbus); the second is pharmaceutical products. These are things with an intrisical value (as opposed to subprime bonds...), which entail high-value infrastructure and personnel, and that yield innovation.

That is the "stuff" we're talking about, as opposed to selling infrastructure away for pennies and flowing the spoils into financial gambling.

78:

Well, for the insurgents, to repeat an old joke:

"Demons have existed on the Discworld for at least as long as the gods, who in many ways they closely resemble. The difference is basically the same as that between terrorists and freedom fighters." - Pterry

Actually, IMHO that is somewhat the case with Vedic Indian vs. Avestan Iranian entities, though one of the guys who should know disagreed somewhat...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahura
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asura

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daeva
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deva_(Hinduism)

79:

Yells overheard from inside Heaven today, punctuated by vicious strokes of a handbag: "And sort out your overmanning! It's one deity's job — you do not need a Father, a Son, AND a Holy Ghost!"

80:

Actually, there is quite some argument about the definition of intrinsic vs subjective value:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_value_(economics)

AFAIK economists are more on the "subjective side", but then, anybody used that one as a defence in a fraud case?

82:

Not defending the lady. I'm from the US and have never been to that side of the little pond. But I get the impression that regarding the steel and coal industry they were allowed to get near death past the point of almost any recovery by the time she took office and now is blamed for their deaths as she was the one who was in charge when the DNR was signed. From reading the comments above and what little I do know previous governments were doing everything possible to pretend the problems would just "go away".

To a similar story on this side of the pond.

I moved to Pittsburgh in 80 for a good software job. It was a very strange (to me) place. The society just didn't make any sense. Lots of up and coming white collar jobes but the steel industry and most of the related industries were basically at near death. I did a lot of driving around on weekends exploring. What I found was there were huge numbers of families with the men laid off but waiting for things to pick up so they could go back to work in the mills or GE transformer factory or whatever. Many (most?) of these guys maybe graduated from high school. And were earning $20 an hour on the low end and $40 or more with time in service. And they refused to take jobs at $7 to $15 per hours (1980) because they deserved more. So they sat at home while their wives worked as secretaries, office staff, sales clerks, etc... And the guys spend their Sundays sitting in the bar drinking beer. Watch the movie "The Deer Hunter" and the scenes set in PA looked like current events to me when I saw the moving in the early 80s. Even the wedding.

The problem with all of this is the mills were NOT coming back. When I got there in 1980 the J&L mill was still keeping their furnaces lit via payments from the military "just in case" but they were turned off by the end of 81. By the time I left in 1987 there were no mills in the county left operating and most were being leveled for office parks. Yet the guys were still waiting fo the steel mill job to come back. And the story in the Philadelphia area was much the same.

So I dug a bit deeper. (From 30 year old memory here.) The US per capita consumption of steel had dropped by half from the 50s to 80s. And also during that time period exports had fallen from about 1/2 of US output to about a net heading towards 0 between exports and imports. Everyone (unions and steel companies) was yelling about cheap foreign steel. But in reality we were making a little more than we were using. But why couldn't we make more? After all this was AMERICA.

The steel companies in general figured they could get along with 1920s/1930s tech (some older) for a few more decades. Continuous casting? Naw. No need. Plus the unions were threatening to put out of business any steel company that adopted new stuff and laid off workers as unneeded. Bring in the new tech the unions said but don't cut the work force. So they muddled along through the 60s then got eaten alive by foreign steel in the 70s. And were out of business by the end of the 80s.

I have friends who were involved in the US auto industry in the same periods and it was a very similar story. Don't rock the boat. We're doing fine. Those stupid foreign companies will never be able to compete with us.

So we got the 80s. Didn't matter who was in the White House there was going to be a train wreak. The only issue was how to respond to the wreak. And there are a lot of valid debate points there.

And from what I gather that's what happened in the UK. It was really more about how to deal with the wreak than the popular story (from what we hear/read over here) that the person in charge in the 80s causing the wreak.

83:

Actually, some of the things about trade unions invite a Marxist or Anarchist "told you so":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_aristocracy

Still, as OGH said, there is some difference between an aspirin, aggressive reconstructive therapy and downright amputation with cauterization by hot iron swords.

84:
there is some difference between an aspirin, aggressive reconstructive therapy and downright amputation with cauterization by hot iron swords.

My point. Many people claim Reagan and Thatcher destroyed the coal, steel, etc... industries. They just presided over the funeral of what in many ways was a suicide. Now debate about how they handled the arrangements make sense. But not much about the suicide itself.

85:

Funeral? More like bundling the body into a hastily dug pit, throwing the earth back on top then sneaking off trying to look like it had nothing to do with you.

Your comment though raises some rather abstract and not so abstract points about how to deal with technological and economic change, the lack of appetites governments often have to deal with difficult long term problems (See also the non-existent UK energy policy).
And also the effects of globalisation and market worship upon societies, and the difficulties of setting up structures to deal with democratic demands. So far the UK governemnts approach tends to be to ignore everyone except the rich people.

86:

Funeral? More like bundling the body into a hastily dug pit, throwing the earth back on top then sneaking off trying to look like it had nothing to do with you.

Still a funeral. Just not a nice one.

87:

And what her lot did with council houses
Let the tenants buy em for pennies
So a big lack of social housing - private landlords charge what they want
So the government has to give increased housing benefit
So basically it makes people who have money already get more


88:

The fact that we apparently can not only make cars, but also steel, when the companies are owned by the Japanese and the Indians, makes me think increasingly that the idea that our problems in the 70s were due to the workforce and we had wonderful managers stifled by unions were backwards.

We apparently have great workers as long as they don't have British managers.

[yes, I know it's more complicated and it's a generation later. But even so...]

89:

In the US most old industry was dominated by workers and management who wanted the world to exist as it did in the 20s and 40s. And never change. The US got insulated from a lot of change from the end of WWII till the 60s but after that it was hard to ignore the industry of the rest of the world.

If you can make something for $1 and buy it for $2 but the equipment to make it costs $1000 wouldn't most of us save up the $1000 so we could stop paying the $2? This is what happened for steel in the US. And the companies selling for for $2 ignored the equipment that would allow them to match the $1 price.

It was almost as if they expected the rest of the world to live in the rubble of WWII and never rebuild.

90:

Well, but OTOH, there is amputation without cauterization, and amputation that removes too much tissue, and amputation that removes too much tissue, but leaves some infected tissue in place etc. TLDR, it's the special circumstances that matter.

Let's see it from a Conservative POV; incidentally, Conservatism is one of these ideologies that stemmed from the French Revolution, albeit from an opposition to its so nice side-effects. Which, if you look at it closely, might be nice side-effect for others, but then, don't get me started on lesswrong's idea of universal values for a friendly AI.

Now Conservatism is applied to quite different ideas, and there is some confusion with the Right and Reactionaries, where, incidentally, these notions don't necessarily line up with later interpretation, e.g. today Nationalism is associated with the Right, but in the early 19th century and later, it quite often meant you were in favor of the French Revolution and thus on the Left.

Still, most Conservatives would not argue against change, they would just stress it has to be organic and historical. Or, to go with the founding document of the English Conservative Party

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamworth_Manifesto

Then, as to the spirit of the Reform Bill, and the willingness to adopt and enforce it as a rule of government: if, by adopting the spirit of the Reform Bill, it be meant that we are to live in a perpetual vortex of agitation; that public men can only support themselves in public estimation by adopting every popular impression of the day, - by promising the instant redress of anything which anybody may call an abuse - by abandoning altogether that great aid of government - more powerful than either law or reason - the respect for ancient rights, and the deference to prescriptive authority; if this be the spirit of the Reform Bill, I will not undertake to adopt it. But if the spirit of the Reform Bill implies merely a careful review of institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, undertaken in a friendly temper combining, with the firm maintenance of established rights, the correction of proved abuses and the redress of real grievances, - in that case, I can for myself and colleagues undertake to act in such a spirit and with such intentions.

Another thing is respect for the historical and organic organisation of people.

You might see why I think quite a few "Conservatives" are a failure from this POV.

91:

Small, but relevant off-topic, due to persistent use in this thread:

"TL:DR" - 5 letters.

"In short" - 7 letters.

Meaning is the same. Are those 2 letters worth it? Den y rnt u abbreviating everything else?

92:

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Thatcher R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

Also,

"And The Second Viscount of Stansgate drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Milliband upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' Sam said."

93:

You consider that those mathematicians who explore the further reaches of Human Behaviour in the form of the MARKETS are somehow less worthy than those who explore the further reaches of, say, Astrophysics?

That the wish to earn a living by playing with Game Theory is somehow less WORTHY than using said Theory in the anticipation of War/Peace ...and in the development of, say, a model of Human Intelligence in I.T. that is within the reach of anything between a model that will modify a Human Surgeons hand to avoid a slip whilst IT operates on a Humans Spine..Say a Human that is suffering from, say, Cervical Spondilitus in its more unplesent manifestation .. or an A.I. that is playing the Markets .. but in a GOOD way?

And at which point should this Sub Goodish A.I. be told to intervene? And by #whom ..well by ME of Course but I acknowledge that you may well have entirly understandable misgivings, and I do forgive you ...though I reserve the RIGHT to SMITE tm You if you dont yield to reason!

Moreover, and taking it just a bit larger, if such 'intelligent ' imitation, human intels should exist...should they be trained to intervene in Human Affairs before the next ..Plus ##***1...magor economic Event plunges us all into the Next Great -er -Depresion? And if so ...wither FREE WILL? And which of us will determine what Free Will tm is ? Oh, come now surely somone must have thought of tm ing Free Will? ... Bloody HELL you Havent !!! ?? !! Excuse me folks ..Some Thing to Do ....

94:

We have to import A380s in basically the same way that France does, we build some bits they build some bits some bits are built in other countries. The bits are brought together and the plane gets assembled in Toulouse. The Airbusses would have difficulty flying without the wings, which are built in Broughton. Several of the smaller models have the planes flown out in the Beluga (a modified A300) from Hawarden airport. The A380 wings are however too big so are transported by road and then shipped from Mostyn docks.

95:

British steel production is no longer focused on producing plate for shipbuilding the way it was in the 1970s, it produces specialist steels in much smaller quantities but at higher values per tonne and with vastly fewer workers per tonne of production.

Yes, British shipbuilding had cratered in the 1970s as we lost orders to new yards in the Far East but British Steel couldn't stop making ship plate because that would have put tens of thousands of people out of work and the investment needed to turn the company around was being used up just keeping the company afloat year to year in a Red Queen's Race.

As for cars, a lot of that was down to design, but basically at that time in the 60s and 70s everybody's cars were about as bad as each other, even the vaunted Japanese. It took a lot of learning and computer analysis to make engines that didn't need decokes and rebuilds after 50,000 miles, suspension and brakes that worked, bodyshells that wouldn't disintegrate into fragments in a minor collision, corrosion control of body panels etc. Quality control was another major step forward but again that was worldwide, not just a failure of British production thinking.

96:

I was too young to have any direct effect on the Thatcher era, she was kicked out of power by her own side before I could cast a vote against her and her party.

My parents voted for her in 1979 - my mother largely on the basis that she was a women - and our families reward? My father was kicked out of his job in first round of defence cuts prior to the Falklands war.

Consequently, in our household "Thatcher" is something akin to a swearword.

Contrary to received wisdom, the 1970s are looked upon as a period of unparalleled prosperity in our family, the 80s as a bleak time of shrinking possibilities, the 90s only slightly better.

Since being removed and replaced by someone more emollient [and more Conservative], my hatred for her has shriveled away to almost nothing.

I can scarcely summon the energy to despise someone with Alzheimer's...

Thatcher was a political colossus, compared to the inadequate pygmies who succeeded her, and she did more to destroy both the Labour movement and the Conservative party than any other.

All hail the plutonium blonde! - they don't make hate figures like that anymore.

97:

It's probably dangerous to argue that the early downfall of the Argentine Junta after their loss of the Falklands war, meant that some Argentinians didn't "disappear" who might have.

It's worth noting that Thatcher only committed to the use of armed force twice, after two invasions. Blair managed to commit our armed forces to Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

justinf@56 - Instead, the Junta made war to soon and a carrier was redeployed into service to handily defeat the Argentine Airforce. (On this occasion, the Argentine Airforce and Army decided not to participate in the war, thus disencumbering themselves of a candid victory. No disrespect meant to the RN.)

Not accurate... The Argentinian Air Force participated very enthusiastically, and lost a lot of very determined pilots. The Argentinian Army participated too - after all, who else was manning Goose Green / Two Sisters / Wireless Ridge / Mount Longdon / etc? (Granted, it was Argentinian Marines on Tumbledown).

justin@72 - Britain did not land troops on Argentine soil (likewise, Argentina did very little to threaten Britain)

Errr..... neither is quite true. There was an attempt by Argentina to conduct sabotage in Gibraltar, stopped by the Spanish. And a British helicopter turned up in Chile, having "got lost" (euphemism). Search for "Operation Algeciras" and "Operation Mikado".

I agree about the "restraint" aspect of your comment, though. Three civilian deaths in the whole war, from a single incident where a British shell landed in Port Stanley.

andyf@61 - we didn't lose the fleet down to luck.

Apparently very true - and not just the sea war. The land war was fairly close-run, too.
- the "Yomping"/"Tabbing" only happened because of the loss of the support helicopters with Atlantic Conveyor. The remaining helicopters were committed to flying artillery ammunition forward.
- after the last night of the war, the forward artillery positions were down to three rounds per gun...

Having said that, the Argentinian carrier group ran for port and stayed there after the sinking of the Belgrano. The only reason it didn't get sunk is that the HMS Spartan lost contact. Had it stayed out, or stayed in HMS Spartan's area of operations, it would probably have joined the Belgrano on the seabed, or even preceded it.

shunra@70 - the thing about war (any war) is that it represents a failure of diplomacy so large

Which is why Lord Carrington (the Foreign Secretary) and two junior ministers chose to resign immediately...

98:

It is also arguable, that a much lower total loss of life would have happened if we hadn't had the idiot "exclusion zone" but had simply stated: "Any Argentine Naval vessel, with its' anchor up, outside one of its' own ports, is a legitimate target - anywhere at all" .....
Could have saved a lot of Argentine Army/Air-force presonnel, as well as our own soldier/sailors' lives - in total.

Compare lives lost in a naval battle with a land one, in any era. And look at the geopolitical effects of the same battles.

Which is why I regard both the Madwoman & all her successors, irrespective of party, as traitors.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Talking of failures of diplomacy ...
What are the odds on the guvmint of N Korea believeing in its' own rhetoric? [ Yes, I know there is an obvious internal faction-fight in progress, but does that not make it even more dengerous? ]
Or will they "just" set off a test nuke / demonstration fire an empty missile?

99:

Like Tam Dalyell you've misunderstood the Total Exclusion Zone. The TEZ was a zone in which any ships or planes could be attacked without warning, civilian or military of any nation. It didn't change the general rule of warfare that enemy warships could be attacked anywhere.

100:

As for ownership, the Argentinians were (and are) certainly under the impression that they owned the Malvinas, the Brits having illegally taken them from their rightful owners in 1883 by force of arms.

And as a matter of fact Argentina has claimed sovereignty over this archipelago since the Brits took over and have never dropped their claim.

I do not know what the United Nations thinks about the matter.

Any outright statement that Great Brittan owns this territory is clearly not entirely supported by the facts.

101:

Conservatism is one of these ideologies that stemmed from the French Revolution, albeit from an opposition to its so nice side-effects.

Yes.

This is a key insight that eludes many; we're still playing out the consequences of a 220-year-old revolution.

Prior to 1789, there'd been -- except in parts of North America and Great Britain -- a general way of running things: monarchism. (GB opted for constitutional monarchism, i.e. monarchism plus a squirearchy of landowners and merchants who could send the monarch packing if they fucked up too badly.)

Then we got the revolution and a whole new theory of the state and of man and of man's relation to the state and of the rights of man. Apple cart? It's not so much overturned as blown to splinters, flying on the breeze.

Then we got the excesses of revolution (the Terror and so on) and then a counter-revolutionary movement, from whom today's conservatives are descended. But they're not the same as the old monarchists by a long way. They're the landowners and merchants, wondering if they can run the show for their own benefit without the pesky King taking 10% of everyone's profits and expropriating more at will to fun his war hobby, but living also in fear of the Mob. Class war in embryo, in other words.

102:

"It's probably dangerous to argue that the early downfall of the Argentine Junta after their loss of the Falklands war, meant that some Argentinians didn't "disappear" who might have."

Is this in reference to me? I'm not sure what you're saying here.

"Not accurate... The Argentinian Air Force participated very enthusiastically,"

Quite right, my brain thought "navy" and my fingers wrote "airforce". And the army did participate but in that curious way of sending in the conscripts and leaving their best soldiers on the Chilean border "just in case". The army fought but if it had really committed the RN wouldn't have stood a chance.

"Errr..... neither is quite true." It's a bit of a trivial distinction though, isn't it? They didn't operate against each other in force, outside of the Falklands.

103:

Presumably, to avoid claims of hypocrisy, the Argentinian government will be giving back the territory they stole from the Mapuche, Kolla, Toba, Guaraní, Wichí, Diaguita, Mocoví, Huarpe and all the other people who were there before them?

104:

"Presumably, to avoid claims of hypocrisy, the Argentinian government will be giving back the territory they stole..."

Right after Great Britain gives back Canada and Australia, perhaps?

My point was, not to adjudicate ownership, nor to claim that anyone is sinless, but merely to point out the historical fact that the ownership is and was, as a matter of plainly observable fact, disputed.

I meant this simply as a counterpart to a straight out implication, made earlier in the thread, that Britain somehow actually "owns" the land and the Argentinians tried to take it from the "legitimate owners".

In the end all "ownership" is merely a fancy of the human mind.

105:

Both countries gained their independence some decades ago, or hadn't you noticed? The UK government ("Great Britain" is the large island, not the country) doesn't get a say any more, though both countries retain the Queen (a non-political ceremonial job these days) who has her official representatives in those nations.

As it is, the people who live on the Falkland Islands have made it their opinion perfectly clear, and theirs is the most important voice on this matter.

106:

I'm going to add to the misery of the pathetically ignorant eseedhouse @ 100

The "rightful inhabitants" whom the Brits ejected from the Falklands were a collection of criminals, whom the then Argentine guvmint wanted to jail or execute, IIRC.
There were Agentines on the islands 1828-33, but, crucially, they had permission from the Brit Naval authorities to be there. The remainder were persuaded to leave, after the so-called "gaucho murders" in 1833.

For more information an unlikely source is insighful: the account of the voyage of HMS Beagle
And as F @ 105 has said - the inhabitants want to remain "British" - in accordance with the usual UN rules.

Oh, & if "eseedhouse" is an inhabitant of the USSA, then you may also get the same reply that US-"irish" nutters get to "When are you going to give Ireland back?" - "As soon as you give up the entire USA to the Native American Indians" ...

Charlie @ 101
No - & yes.
There is also a very large body of conservatives (note the small "C") who believe that change can be much for the better, but that change, of itself is not necessarily for the better. These people are often technophiles, as well - think Kipling or Lord Salisbury. I've already demolished the "class" argument as entirely spurious.

What annoyed a huge number of people during the Madwoman's years in power (coming back to the original subject!) was that there appeared to be no room for these "one nation" conservatives, whether they were in either the tory or labour parties. In fact, it was very like the USSA under the Shrub - maybe worse?

107:

When I was doing my Masters we had a class on accounting with several other MSc and Business streams. Quite a few foreign students of about my age who would have been about 8 during the Miners’ Strike and, also, in a different country.

One of the case studies in how to mis-use accountancy was to compare the UK Government’s claim that the various pits scheduled for closure were losing money with the actual P&L and Balance Sheets of the pits. Once you striped out the allocated overheads for head office costs and so on most of the pits were making money. Then we tracked what happened as you closed each pit and then had to allocate the head office costs over the remaining pits.

There was a really strange and tense atmosphere in the room. The Brits in the room who had lived through the early 80’s in the UK were alive to what we were being led to understand but which hadn’t been explicitly stated, that the government had used some suspect accountancy to provide a smokescreen for a politically motivated decision. The visiting students took a bit longer to reach that penny dropping moment.

I’ll never forget the incredulous, shocked tone of voice of one of my international colleagues when, after asking the Prof a few questions, she voiced her new suspicion that the government had mis-used the figures.

“But, but, , but, do you mean they lied? And all those men out of work?”

That’s my memory of Thatcher.

108:

There is actually a large wildlife habitat on the Falklands nowadays were penguins thrive and humans rarely tread.

Landmines have that effect on areas.

109:

With respect to the penguins, and the humans who might otherwise put sheep there, it's not a mess of the scale of, say, that left behind after any other war that was conducted during the twentieth century ever.

110:

@DanielDWilliam I am not surprised about this detail, but then, I've had about thirty years of being actively aware of these dirty tricks.

Right now the same trick is being used to pretend the US Postal Service is bankrupt, losing money to the tune of billions - BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!!!!111SCARESCARESCARE!!!

It's presented as a combination of the effects of being a government service (in the U.S., effective government service is pretty much considered an oxymoron), and of the rise email, and there is a significant push to strangle it in favor of the commercial deliverers. In actual fact, the USPS is required set aside pensions for a period of the next 75 years. This is longer than anything I've ever even heard of, but was passed by congress in '06. Surprise! The postal office cannot fund retirement for the next 75 years without booking a loss!

Things like that that are why I see this as an ongoing war, with the guns camouflaged in rhetoric and pointed directly at (to use some shorthand) all of us.

That word, ongoing, has implications at every level of life.

111:

"As it is, the people who live on the Falkland Islands have made it their opinion perfectly clear, and theirs is the most important voice on this matter."

Of course they've been rather careful to not let anyone live there who is likely to have a contrary opinion.

And while Canada and Australia may be "independent" these days, I notice that the original owners weren't given the land back.

Facts are facts. It is an observable fact, not an opinion, that the "rightful ownership" of these islands is in dispute today. Any pretense that things are otherwise is just that, a pretense.

I made, and make, absolutely no judgement as to who is right. I merely pointed out this fact, which has attracted a rather emotional reaction. Interesting, that.

112:

"I'm going to add to the misery of the pathetically ignorant eseedhouse @ 100"

Well, I'm afraid you rather failed in that objective. Interesting though, that the mere expression of a dissenting opinion, leads you to the need of calling me nasty names. Which is, really, all your "rebuttal" consisted of.

Oh by the way, if you'd bothered to read what I actually said, you might have noticed that I made no judgement as to who is right, or wrong, about the "ownership" of these Islands.

Well, it is simply an observable fact that another country other than Great Britain, one that happens to be a good deal closer to the islands in question, has and still does claim these islands as rightfully theirs. Blustering and insult will not make this simple fact go away.

Judging from the vehement reactions, one might think one had pricked someone's guilty conscience, might one not?


113:

[[ Post redacted for libel against an identifiable person. Greg, do not use this blog to call people 'openly crooked' unless you can show a criminal conviction ]]

114:

just read your intermediate piece.
Yes - Argentina makes a claim.
SO what?
Even the scrupulous Wikipedia notes that the Argentines on the Flaklands were there with British permission 1828-33 .....
After all, plenty of regimes claim & have claimed in the past, that certain strips of land are "rightfully" theirs.
Doesn't make it true, does it?

[ Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt]

Really?

115:

Let me give you a little hint as to who between the UK and Argentina has the stronger claim to the Falklands; when the UK first settled the Falklands, there was no such nation as Argentina (by about 50 years).

116:

And the army did participate but in that curious way of sending in the conscripts and leaving their best soldiers on the Chilean border "just in case".

That made sense to the Junta in context - they genuinely didn't believe that the British would respond militarily, so they hadn't really planned to be facing the Task Force.

ISTR that the best soldiers were next to Chile so as to take the next step in "recovering their disputed territories" - why do you think they were so happy to help the UK? It's know known that there were a few hastily-repainted RAF Canberras that flew across the Pacific and operated out of a Chilean airbase (allegedly, they spelled "Chilean Air Force" incorrectly in Spanish). And the Chileans may have helped by passing on radar information.

The army fought but if it had really committed the RN wouldn't have stood a chance.

Not sure what you mean here - I'll address both points, but fundamentally the only thing that the Argentinians were "good" at was murdering and torturing their own people. They weren't that good at actually fighting a war.

"If the Argentinian army had committed", it would have taken longer. Its logistics were incompetent, i.e. was unable to support even the forward positions it had a couple of miles outside Stanley. Its best troops were few in number, and were beaten when encountered:
- Their Commandos were found sheltering from bad weather inside a single building - see "Top Malo House". Hardly indicative of high standards.
- Their Marine battalion on Tumbledown was defeated by 2nd Bn Scots Guards.

"If the Argentinian navy had committed", they would have lost it all, hard and fast. They only had two modern air defence ships (split up), an obsolete carrier, and 1960s aircraft equipped with dumb bombs. They had no reliable recce aircraft or SIGINT, not much EW capability, no satellite support, no decrypt support, and were (realistically) a bunch of conscripts up against a first-world professional navy. The RN had missile-capable ships galore, two carriers with more capable aircraft on board, and multiple SSN in theatre (not to mention SSK). They had (in support) Nimrod flying out of Ascension, and I suspect the MRR Vulcans could have joined them quickly. GCHQ was doing its merry thing, presumably with full UKUSA support. The ships were worked-up for the Cold War, with professionally trained crews.

Consider this: the Belgrano was sunk to make a point (which succeeded - the Argentine Navy ran for port and stayed there, less a single SSK), its escorts were left untouched. Had "the gloves been off"...

117:

Distance from Port Stanley to Buenos Aires - about 1200 miles. Argentina does not have a valid claim on the basis of being nearby. Neither does the UK, and the UK does not make that claim.

Number of people in the Falklands who voted in favour of Argentine control - three (3). Argentina therefore cannot claim on the basis of the wishes of the inhabitants.

Other possible basis for complaint? Although it's not a term in international law, there's right of conquest. Seems to me that's been tried.

118:

It was almost as if they expected the rest of the world to live in the rubble of WWII and never rebuild.

Quite possibly they did. Or more accurately, simply did not think about "the rest of the world".

119:

strummist @ 117
Very important minor technical point.
The 3 (three) people who voted against the staus quo in the Falklands were not necessarily voting for "Argie" control.
There are at least two (2) other interpretations on their vote:
Full independance
or
An integral part of the UK
... - rather than remaining a "dependant territory" - which was the actual choice offered.

Moderators @ 113
I can't sucessfully google for it - maybe you can - I suggest you look at what actually, historically, happened.
The then head of the GPO, who had been in post a very short time, was asked to walk.
This was after he had tried to close the TPO mail-rail services (almost all of which are now running again) and succeeded in closing the PO railway in London - & he had large erm, lorry/truck/road-transport "interests" shall we say?
It might have been pure coincidence, of course.

120:

I reiterate that I take no position whatsoever about who "owns" the Malvinas/Falklands.

I chimed in only because a poster here made a statement that logically implied a a claim that the British owned archipelago in question. And I pointed out that, in actual observable fact, that claim is, to say the least, disputed.

Both Argentina and Great Britain currently claim ownership. That is an observable fact. Both are sovereign countries and members of the United Nations. To my knowledge the body latter has made no ruling on the matter. Also to my knowledge there is no existing treaty between the disputants that resolves the question.

If these things are so then ownership is in dispute, plain and simple.

These are simply facts. Arguments about who "rightfully" owns the territory seem to me to be utterly pointless and irrelevant.

Statements of fact that are observably false, are in my opinion, open to be commented on. Which is what I believe I did.

121:

These are simply facts. Arguments about who "rightfully" owns the territory seem to me to be utterly pointless and irrelevant.

Statements of fact that are observably false, are in my opinion, open to be commented on. Which is what I believe I did.

You did so in a manner which is both rude and derailing. I will also note that this is not the Falklands sovereignty thread you might be looking for; it's the Thatcher obituary thread, and while the Falklands conflict was an important crisis during her tenure as Prime Minister, it's by no means important in the grand scale of things.

Please read the moderation policy before commenting again. And I'd now like to suggest that everybody drops the subject of "who rightfully owns the Falklands/Malvinas", before I get annoyed and start banning people.

122:

Well, leave it to NPR to have something other than the laudatory stories most of the US press has had.

For Some Britons, Thatcher's Death Provokes Celebrations

123:

The postal office cannot fund retirement for the next 75 years without booking a loss!

The USPS has huge money/labor issues without the pension issue. That just adds to the problems. Assuming you agree the funding is wrong.

They are already exempted from pollution controls on their delivery vehicles. Congress mandates they flat rate packages across all the states so it's cheaper to ship concrete blocks as parcel post than by any other freight. And so on.

First class mail volume is shrinking. Rapidly. To the extent the postal workers union is running TV ads telling people they should opt for the "safe" delivery of their bills via paper and not use email.

There is no one cause. It's an institution that is supposed to be self supporting but not allowed to make up it's own rules. And the politics of small town Andy Hardy nostalgia is winning.

124:

cheaper to ship concrete blocks as parcel post than by any other freight in Alaska.

Sorry

125:

That NPR article is a fairly good summary. While I wonder a bit about those "spontaneous" parties (and could they be as much anti-Conservative as anti-Thatcher?)[1], there are a lot of people with personal reasons to dislike her, and a huge amount of uncritical laudaTory drivel in the press.

Even a state funeral, next week...

That's not usual for a former Prime Minister. While the details of the ceremonial varied, that's what the Queen Mother and Princess Diana got. It ranks Thatcher with the first Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill.

Looking at what the Right is saying, it seems a rather political choice.

I know what it can feel like when an elderly, frail, mother dies. I can imagine something of how her children are reacting to the situation. But, at the end of the day, Margaret Thatcher's death and funeral have been turned into political grandstanding by David Cameron and by the Right-wing media.

They made the blog-post, and the rest of Britain is posting comments. They're the trolls, provoking the responses they want to deride.


126:

Zhochaka:

...I wonder a bit about those "spontaneous" parties (and could they be as much anti-Conservative as anti-Thatcher?)[1], there are a lot of people with personal reasons to dislike her, and a huge amount of uncritical laudaTory drivel in the press.

Speaking as someone who grew up and came of voting age in the industrial north of England during her first term in office...

I think you're more than half right there. Many, (even most?) of the people I've seen depicted holding spontaneous street celebrations and many (even most?) of the people I've (somewhat reluctantly and against my better judgement) been drawn into debate with on the issue seem largely to be reacting to a myth rather than a person. I've seen all sorts of acts and words ascribed to both her and her opponents which simply can't be reconciled with eith my own memories or the historical record. She's become an icon for a whole ideology, a whole set of social and economic theories and policies, and has been assigned the mythic role in a whole era of politics and that's what many (most?) people are reacting to.

Me? I think she has plenty of crimes to answer for without inventing others or ascribing others actions to her (others have done a better job of articulating them for me in this thread than I can) but I'm damned if I'm going to contribute to her mythology, I'd rather see her forgotten and relegated to a footnote in history, or a bullet point in the list of British Prime Ministers as some sort of awful aberration...

127:

Why do I get the feeling that all this about the Madwoman, this week is a distraction:
Oh look - a Wookie!

Meanwhile, the internal power-struggles in the "DPRK" (N Korea) will really threaten us all, if they spill over, and the international wrangling over the Spanish Syrian civil war drags on, as to whom to support, & who has backing from communist al-quaeda ultra-extremists continues.

I do not like the parallels, especially since (if you can believe the stories) DPRK & Iran have close nuclear-weapons ties.
2-3 years to WWIII, kicking off with a nuke on Tel Aviv?
I do hope I'm wrong.

128:

I'm just going to observe that I've not seen Carol Thatcher supplying a sound bite on her mother's death.

129:

I was going to footnote that bit about the connection between general anti-Conservative and specifically anti-Thatcher reactions.

Both sides have their myths, and the Right-wing are casting her as the woman who saved Britain. They have turned her into a symbol to justifu what they are doing, and some of the reaction seems to be rooted in the poltics of today, with a Conservative government which keeps failing to get the economy rolling forwards. All it can do is attack the least fortunate: all stick and no carrot.

And the obvious thinking is that these people of today, claiming to the heirs of Thatcher, have made her responsible for their misdeeds.

I am inclined to think that, based on my reading of the industrial history of the last century, is that Britain has only prospered when it has been able to rob the rest of the world. Governments have generally been no better, but sometimes thought in the longer term. So it was the government which built the aircraft factories in the last years of peace in the 1930s, not private investment.

And the people who continued that robber-baron mismanagement are the people who control the Conservative Party. They plainly think that people are not even assets.

If we were assets, we would be worth the training, and the provision of health-care.

130:

You couldn't make this shit up:


Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will have a Falklands War theme, Downing Street reveals
(The Independent break the news that 700 armed forces personnel from units which served in the Falklands conflict will take part in the funeral.)

Family veto Argentine officials at funeral

Police ask Margaret Thatcher protesters to identify themselves (according to The Independent, so that their "right to protest can be upheld".)

I'm disgusted. Nauseated. And very glad to be overseas for the next week and a half.

131:

Also from the Tory Graph this article makes some really good points on the State Funeral...


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/9984619/Margaret-Thatcher-This-is-a-state-funeral-and-thats-a-mistake.html


" So the question arises: what’s so special about Maggie Thatcher? Defenders of next week’s funeral arrangements say that she was a “transformational” prime minister. This is true. But so was Clement Attlee, who introduced the welfare system and the National Health Service, thus fundamentally changing the connection between state and individual. Yet the Queen did not attend Mr Attlee’s funeral, a quiet affair in Temple Church near Westminster. According to a 1967 report in Time magazine, “all the trappings of power were absent last week at the funeral of Earl Attlee … there were no honour guards or artillery caissons, no press or television, no crush of spectators. Only 150 friends and relatives gathered for a brief Anglican ceremony in honour of the man who had shaped the political destiny of post-war Britain.”

The decision to acknowledge Lady Thatcher, but not Attlee, makes the Queen appear partisan and is totally out of kilter with the traditional impartiality of the modern British monarchy. "


My guess is that this event is going to degenerate into a celebration of Tory-dom which is more than a little odd since Thatcher wasn’t really a traditional Tory and it was mostly the Tory Posh Boys club - that she deposed from Cabinet Minister type power at the start of her Reign - that deposed her in the end ... and who returned, Renewed and Regenerated, to rule over us now.

132:

Charlie @ 101 & 130
Yup, you really couldn't make it up.
Quite sickening - & like I said a diversion.
Meanwhile, feel sorry for anyone trying to get to work in the vicinity of St Pauls' on Wednesday, next week!

However, your earlier point reminded me of something (one of my favourite hobby-horses, as well) the changes in "politics" after 1789 were also interacting with another, greater revolution, the industrial one.
This process is also still going on.

Very very few revolutions end as "well" as the British or US ones. Most, if they succeed at all, go the way of the French, Russian or Persian ones - high ideals descending into a bloobath & a reign of terror, followed by a strongman/dictator.
In the end Boney was beaten by British insustrialisation, that allowed Britain to fund Napoleons' other enemies, whilst keeping Britain relatively prosperous.
Very soon afterwards, an obscure mill-wright, who acted as a temporary volunteer against a (fictional but feared) supposed uprising in 1818-19 & who had already independantly invented & perfected a miners' safety-lamp started his work on the proper beginnings of the steam locomotive.
Note that Geordie Stephenson was (by the standards of the time) a left-wing tory, ready to support the "bosses". Mind you, he had, again by the standards of the time, remarkably enlightened bosses, who could see profit for all of them, if young George was allowed his way.
So there we have a historical example of an amazingly advanced technical change allied to an "enlightened" conservatism - that changed the world more than any revloutionary paradigm of blood & overthrow.
Was the example of the collapse of the SovUnion a repeat of this process?
Spent into the ground by the (overall) more technically-advanced "West" ??
And also because, for all of its faults, said "West" or earlier, Britain had more real freedom to allow such technical experimentation & real, physical, material progress to take place ... so that they were predisposed into a winning position vis-a-vis their autocratic/dictatorial opponents?

133:

Was the example of the collapse of the SovUnion a repeat of this process?
Spent into the ground by the (overall) more technically-advanced "West" ??

American ReprobatesRepublicans would say it was all Ronnie Raygun and his military spending (how many Billions wasted on SDI?, or "Government is the problem" so I'll triple it's size.) Never mind that you could go back to Truman ordering the A-bombing of a couple cities, and Stalin saying I gotta get some of those. And Kennedy escalating the Space Race. Reagan may have helped put the last nail in, but he certainly didn't "Bring down that wall" as the Republicans would have it. Frankly, I think the announcement that he had Alzheimer's kinda made sense of some of his second term.

Yes, I know there's a lot more to it all. I am not a historian.
Just the view of a kid living near the blast radius of DC at the time.

134:

Oh yeah. I forgot the sending of arms to the Mujahideen, whose sons grew up to be the Taliban. Thanks Ronnie.

135:

"Both sides have their myths, and the Right-wing are casting her as the woman who saved Britain. They have turned her into a symbol to justifu what they are doing, and some of the reaction seems to be rooted in the poltics of today, with a Conservative government which keeps failing to get the economy rolling forwards. All it can do is attack the least fortunate: all stick and no carrot."

Krugman covered this, as well as other bloggers (IIRC, some in the comments here):

When you start graphing UK economic statistics, either as a time series or vs. France[1], the positive effects of her policies don't show up well. They might be there, but they're rather small, at best. The negative effects, of course, were huge.


[1] As the obvious comparison; I haven't seen Germany used yet, and my next comment will be about Germany.

136:

"Compare and contrast with West Germany where (as OGH explained above) Trade Unions enjoyed power and levels of participation in decision making which unions in the UK could never have dreamed of, but managed to develop a co-operative, non-confrontational model of industrial relations and everybody did (and on the whole continues to do) very nicely indeed out of it..."

From the viewpoint of a Yank (the land of the union-busting 'free'), one obvious thing that I don't see mentioned much by the right is Germany. From the Yank viewpoint, both the UK in the 1970's and Germany up through today are highly unionized. Germany has levels of union membership and power which I don't believe were ever achieved in the US.

But I have also never heard of Germany described as 'the sick man of Europe'.

To me, that suggests that it's something else which caused British malaise.

137:

"As for the Financial Sector, what's wrong with that being a key area for the British economy? "

Nothing. Being *the* key area, the cancerous hypertrophied tail sucking the life out of the dog, that is a problem.

How many trillions of (can't find the symbol) pounds did the Crash cost the UK? If we were to assess those costs against economic growth since 1979, would the results be positive or negative?

138:

"In actual fact, the USPS is required set aside pensions for a period of the next 75 years. "

In the sense of 'Joe was hired today; we *now* need to put enough money in the pension fund *today* to cover his pension for the rest of his life, assuming that there's a 100% chance that he puts in a full 30 years here'.

Daniel Davies had a famous saying about the Iraq War that 'good ideas don't need lies to sell them'.

139:

(re: what was wrong with supporting the City as a key part of the British economy)

"The problem was not so much that it was a key area, but that it was the sole focus of government attention. One of Thatcher's actions was to abolish the government's industrial policy, which promoted British manufacturing and exports. (Unlike France and Germany, which both have strong state backing for industry and which, ahem, build shit these days.) She thought we could rely on investments and banking. Trouble is, she assumed trickle-down from the bankers' table would enrich the rest of the country. It didn't, as witness the huge (and widening) wealth gap between the City of London and the rest of London and then London and the South Eat and the rest of the UK."

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as 'no industrial policy'; the only questions are 'who benefits?' and 'how is the policy concealed?'.

140:

JPR @ 133&4
You seem to have misread my question in a profoundly unintended manner.
I was not specifically thinking of military spending, nor in fact only military spending - I was thinking of overall economic activity.
During the Naploeonic wars, Britain's economic activity was such that our economy was expanding hugely, as well as fighting those wars.
During the cold war, proxy wars were fought in many parts of the planet, but look at the OTHER expanding economic activity going on at the time ....
So the, the "West" (which is emphatically NOT just the USSA) was & is still so much richer, overall than the SovUnion was - and had enough surplus that your example could actually be afforded, "on the side" so to speak.
I remember an example from Kate Adie, writing about her time in the SovUnion as a student, remarking that the Russians examined her (to her perfectly ordinary) M&S wooly jumper as if it was a piece of rare & expensive cahsmere....
There, does that make my supposed point, if it was a point, clearer? And rephrashing it, as I have, does the point still stand - is it a valid comparison?

141:

Don't mind me.
I saw that question in your post and wrote what came to mind, about how the conservatives here would answer it. Then put myself in a bad mood, and decided to walk away from the keyboard for a bit. What I get for skimming through comments.

142:

There's a surprisingly thoughtful piece by Russell Brand in the Guardian, giving a perspective from the point of view of one of 'Thatcher's Children'.

(I may have to reassess the man.)

143:

Actually, a dominating sector that runs an economy and makes other exports too expensive has a name to it in the context of natural resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_disease

Funny that's not applied to finance...

144:

I too thought that the piece by Russell Brand was thoughtful and intelligent (like many comedians, I think he hides a fair degree of intelligence behind layers of irreverent buffoonery). I'm personally of a similar vintage to Mr Brand, and he articulated many of my feelings about Thatcher and her legacy better than I could myself. Though personally my experience of her tenure as PM is inextricably entwined with my experience of growing up in Northern Ireland through the 70's and 80's -- I doubt that there is anywhere on Earth that is more deeply divided on opinion of her.

145:

JPR @ 141
Perfecty all right - it wa obvious you'd misunderstood.
However, what DO you think, reconsidering in light of my clarification?

146:

I forgot the sending of arms to the Mujahideen

And a better approach to the situation at the time would be?

As to arms, outside of stingers was all that much sent?
(I've not dug deep into this at all and am open to the possibility there might have been a lot of transfers through about 6 indirect channels that resulted in Pakistan providing rifles made in China.)

147:

This demonstrates, I suppose, that if you opposed Thatcher's ideas it was likely because of their lack of compassion, which is really just a word for love. If love is something you cherish, it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one's enemies.

Which is why I never celebrate an individuals death or disease. I may have wanted them gone but celebration isn't what is called for.

And I have to ask. How did she stay in power for a decade or so if her policies were so bad for the majority of the people? (I'm from the US.)

148:

@147 David, I believe you have replied to me while quoting someone else (although I do agree with the thought).

149:

Sorry. I was quoting from the Russell Brand article.

150:

May I just point out that the pensions situation is screwed up beyond all hope of resolution for as long as growth and interest rates are less than the inflation rate.

151:

They weren't, at the time, obviously bad for a majority, and of course you can argue about how buying council houses cheap was good for part of the populace whilst others were thrown out of work.
A better way of putting it might be that, like a lot of businesses, she just had to be slightly better than the rather disorganised opposition.

There's also the first past the post system, which guaranteed them a majority of seats in parliament, even with less than 50% of the vote.

And the "Something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done" approach which a lot of people took, not just politicians. They didn't realise how society would be changed by the ideas her and her ilk sprearheaded.

152:

So with a little exaggeration, group A screwed things up so much than anyone from another group who said they "would do something and fix things" got a largely free pass"?

153:

like a lot of businesses, she just had to be slightly better than the rather disorganised opposition.

So what were the alternatives at the time. Credible alternatives.

154:

First see my other comment @141.
I suppose I should have said: sending arms to the Mujahideen and then abandoning Afghanistan (which had been a modern country) after the Soviets had left, leaving it to the fundies.

But that's all off-topic, so nevermind.

155:

Apologies. I knew I recognised the quote, but I'm on vacation (your side of the pond) and I've powered down most of my higher cognitive functions for the duration.

But yes, I liked the tone of Brand's article, that no matter how much you dislike someone, dancing on their grave does nothing to them and at best only makes a fool of you.

156:

You might care to have a look at this...

" What's a little debt between friends? "


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4757181.stm


And bear in mind that a great many of the U.Ks cities had been bombed flat and that if our political right wing had been successful then we in the British Empire might have achieved an accommodation with the Germans and hung on to the Empire On Which The Sun Never Slept ..And Fuck the Foreigners. Instead we went to war, without the U.S of A s immediate assistance.

After said War we were just a bit drained of resources and...Well, it is a bit complicated. Cold War and so forth?


" The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly successful in attaining their immediate military objectives, but pressure from the United States and the USSR at the United Nations and elsewhere forced them to withdraw. As a result of the outside pressure Britain and France failed in their political and strategic aims of controlling the canal and removing Nasser from power. Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. As a result of the conflict, the UNEF would police the Egyptian–Israeli border to prevent both sides from recommencing hostilities. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis

Not to worry, we did pay off our financial debt to the USA in more than good time to be able to support our allies heroic efforts in the Pantomime that was the second Iraq war ...Yes there are Weapons of Mass Destruction! NO THERE ARENT! Yes There are! ..Look Behind you...And so forth.

157:

I don't know nearly enough about the politics or economics* of Britain & France 200 years ago to have much to say. I know some about the Industrial Revolution and can see how there was the political and economic freedom to develop technologies leading to the prosperity to fight Napoleon and expand the Empire. While Napoleon was trying to build an empire by force of arms. Sorry if I'm still missing the point.

I was only responding to the part about the soviet collapse, and how conservatives in the US have a limited (US-centric) view of the history behind it.


*To be honest, economics is something I have trouble wrapping my head around at the best of times.

158:

'So what were the alternatives at the time. Credible alternatives.'

I think you're swallowing the Conservative narrative here. There's a good case for saying that the Falklands invasion and subsequent military victory saved Margeret Thatcher from defeat in the 1983 election. If she had lost that election then she and her policies - to which there was supposedly no alternative - would have been written off and written out of history. And I doubt we would be living now in a radioactive wasteland being attacked by zombies.

Understand that we weren't the only Western European industrialised state that had to face up to problems of structural transition. They found a way through - notably without deindustrialising or smashing their trade unions or abandoning full employment as a goal. But OGH has already dealt with this.

159:

Anyone who didn’t live through the mid 20th century in the UK can't possibly appreciate just how misogynistic British society was way back then. It wasn’t just that at the point that Thatcher entered Parliament there were very few M.P.s who were women it was that at that time there were very few women in any position of power and influence anywhere. Back in the '70s I several times had to attempt to engage the then police forces interest and attention in cases of Domestic Violence and, once in what I was convinced in my own mind was a rape, and belive me it was bloody difficult. So ..

This later is an in haste web search and based upon my own recollection that nor too long ago in the UK women in the civil service were required to give up their posts when they married...

“ In 1945 the British public sector abandoned the marriage bar, which had required female teachers and civil servants to stay single or resign in favour of male breadwinners. In the 60 years since, women’s lives have been transformed, and, with them, family and community.

You might not think it—given the media focus on pay gaps and glass ceilings, and the Women and Work commission’s recent finding that women in full-time work earn on average 17 per cent less than men—but for the first time, women, at least in developed societies, have virtually no career or occupation barred to them. The people most affected by this change, and the main subject of this essay, are professional and elite women. Women used to enter the elite as daughters, mothers and wives. Now they do so as individuals."

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/rise-of-professional-women-decline-female-altriusm/


My first quick search gave me an Irish site...

" Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mrs. A. Doyle): Information on Avril Doyle Zoom on Avril Doyle The purpose of this Bill is to abolish the reinstatement scheme under which women who resigned from the Civil Service on marriage and were subsequently widowed or who could demonstrate that they were not being supported by their husbands could apply for readmission to the service without having to further compete in a competition run by the Civil Service Commission.

In a very real sense the history of the scheme mirrors the story of women in modern Ireland and, indeed, developments in the area of gender equality. In 1932 the Brennan Commission reported that “if a woman recruited to the post married after eight or ten years, the main purpose for which she had been employed entirely fails, and she has, moreover, during that time been blocking the way of a man who could [1548] give good value for the service in question.”.

With that sort of attitude it was not surprising, therefore, that the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956, required that women must retire from the Civil Service on marriage. It also provided, however, an exemption where any such women who became widowed could seek to be reinstated into the Civil Service. The presupposition underpinning the Brennan Commission report and the 1956 Act was that a married woman had no role in the workforce."

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/seanad/1996/06/06/00006.asp


The TV series "Life On Mars” gave a faint taste of what it was like to be a female police officer way back then ...they weren’t really REAL coppers but rather W PCs whose role it was to deal with the Domestic and Children stuff - and do body searches on women prisoners of course - whilst leaving the real police work to men ..As was proper.


There was, way back then, a Very heavy Freemason presence in the Police Force. As indeed was the case in quite a few British public service organisations of the time. I worked in Organisations that were just about Owned by the Freemasons. In such organisations it wasn’t impossible to get promotion to higher ranks if you weren't a freemason but it was extremely difficult. Women? Who are these Strangely Shaped Creatures who aren’t at home caring for the kids keeping the house clean and ensuring that hubbys dinner is on the table when he returns from a hard day at...where-ever. Against that social background Margret Thatcher was more than just peculiar.

This thought was called to mind when I came upon a BBC report today after reading our hosts ' The last refuge of scoundrels '


" Commander Christine Jones: "If you want to come to London to protest please come and talk to us" "

It's not what was said...that’s the police doing their best to maintain public order without there being blood on the streets and this within the law as it is given to them by Parliment...no, its the gender of who said it and her rank! ..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22112637

160:

in reply to"And I have to ask. How did she stay in power for a decade or so if her policies were so bad for the majority of the people? (I'm from the US.)"

Because I haven't seen anyone else mention it yet


Three Letters, SDP

The UK opposition party the Labour Party split into two the SDP and Labour, the SDP then allied with the old liberal party (not a merger that happened years later) this split the majority of UK VOTERS who opposed the conservative party in two and our first past the post system led to a tory landslide.

From Wikipedia 1983 election

"The opposition vote split almost evenly between the SDP/Liberal Alliance and Labour. With its worst performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of almost 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144, even though the Conservatives' total vote fell by almost 700,000.

..................

The SDP-Liberal Alliance polled only a few hundred thousand votes behind the Labour Party but received considerably fewer seats. The Alliance gained over 25% of the popular vote"

1983 election votes

Popular vote
Con: 13,012,316
Lab: 8,456,934
SDP/Lib alliance:7,780,949

Percentage
Con: 42.4%
Lab: 27.6%
SDP/Lib alliance: 25.4%

Swing
Con: Decrease 1.5%
Lab: Decrease 9.3%
SDP/Lib Increase 11.6%

1987 election

Popular vote
Con: 13,760,935
Lab: 10,029,270
SDP/Lib alliance:7,341,651

Percentage
Con: 42.2%
Lab: 30.8%
SDP/Lib alliance: 22.6%

Swing
Con: Decrease 0.2%
Lab: Increase 3.2%
SDP/Lib Decrease 2.8%

161:

I think you're swallowing the Conservative narrative here. There's a good case for saying that the Falklands invasion

The comment was in reference to the Afghan situation in the 80s when the USSR invaded. And I agree with the guy I was replying to. Off topic and needs to die.

162:

Fair enough. My mistake.

163:

Arnold @ 159
Funny you should mention the trouser-rollers!
They certainly had a female organisation, called (IIRC) "The Eastern Star" - and M H T was a member - which might, or might not tell you something.

H @ 160
Yes - see also my much earlier comments, which may not have been clear enough, that the Labour party had been internally undermined (it's now called "entryism") by either actual communists, or other semi-marxist groups.
Not just Scargill, but google for "Derek Hatton" for instance - who almost totally destroyed the city he lived in - Liverpool.
Everybody - look at those vote-figures - the Madwoman NEVER actually had a real majority ...

Incidentally, I suspect the opposite is going to happen at our next election, because UKIP are going to split the tory vote & labour are still swallowing the corporate-statist semi-fascism with a smiling face offered by the EU commission.
I don't like the overt christianity of some UKIP people, for instance, but something has to be done (see also other conversations, above on that phrase!) ...
It looks as though the empty suit is now trying for EU reform. We've also had that discussion here, haven't we? Needs doing, is it going to happen?

164:

Oops!
See also THIS article - ignore the Thatcher-praising rigmarole which is almost de rigeur for a torygraph piece this week, and read the rest.
Interesting.

165:

Think of the US Tea Party movement when you read that. There is much more to it than the sentiment around this blog that it's all a media campaign funded by rich extremist libertarians. (Not to say they aren't involved.)

166:

Is it just me, or is it self-contradictory for someone who claims not to believe in society to try to shift focus towards the trade of socially constructed items (money, financial devices... all things that would cease to exist in the absence of a society that believes in such things) and away from physical items?

167:

Now you're being a bit too intellectual there.
Although thatcher was allegedly fond of Hayek, as well as Milton Friedman, it isn't clear if many of her colleagues actually understood any of it.

Intellectual coherence is not the strong point of any political party in the UK today, except the Monster Raving Loony Party.

168:

guthrie
You & a lot of others are not going to like this, but, um, err...
"ukip"
If only in resistance ot over-centralised power - everywhere - a theme Charlie has rightly harped on about.
Remember "libertarian" USED TO BE a supposedly left-wing proposition.
Then we got Blair & cameras & nannying & interference.
Copied from the right & the left-authoritarians.
No, it isn't easy, is it,otherwise - anyone could play!

169:

Now Greg, calm down and try and expand your writing so it makes more sense to those of us lacking telepathic abilities.

LIbertarian still does mean a left wing setup, only the libertarian left have been the whipping boys and targets for every statist, centralist, bit of the labour party and the dictatorial left for what, 70 years now?
Hence why you don't hear about them much, despite many of us being happy to vote for such an idea. Of course the continued dominance of the public sphere by right wingers means such ideas don't get a look in unless they are of the right wing market worshipping variety that is favourable to big capital.
You might like this article which points out that radical centrism or whatever it's called, the doctrine of Blair and others, is basically an open door for corruption:
http://www.macroresilience.com/2013/04/08/radical-centrism-uniting-the-radical-left-and-the-radical-right/

170:

The Bretton-Woods system was doomed because it was predicated on the United States being a budget- and trade-surplus nation, which it ceased to be circa 1970 -- due the recovery of its competitors (chiefly West Germany and Japan) and combined costs of the Vietnam War and the Great Society programmes.

From then on, the United States ran ever-larger trade deficits, seeking a new kind of hegemony through being the "consumer of first resort". The anti-worker policies were a way to boost profits, in order to encourage the influx of foreign capital into Wall Street that was required to fund the twin deficits.

The high US interest rates that were part of this policy also caused the Third World debt crisis, and forced the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe to impose brutal austerity measures on their people (thus hastening their demise).

Another aspect of US policy in the '70s was to force up oil prices (it wasn't the work of uppity Arabs -- US allies such as the Shah of Iran co-operated in the increases). The thinking behind this is that while it would hurt the US economy, it would hurt the economies of America's competitors more, as those countries were (at the time) far more dependent on imported oil than the United States itself.

For more information on the history of the global economy from Bretton Woods to the Crash of 2008, check out Yanis Varoufakis's the Global Minotaur.

171:

Talking of libertarian views, or freedom from state interference:
Read this scary piece about how bad things are getting.

172:

Welcome to fascism 2.0 Only the rightous need apply. That probably precludes you and me.

173:

Could be worse ...
It could be theocracy 2.1

174:

" It could be theocracy 2.1"

Do you know what ..I'm not so very sure that it isn't.

Of course the religious zealot parties are a bit fragmented in the U.K.at the moment, but, if you take into account the modern tendency for the Religiously Convinced of the U.K. to keep their heads down in public, when you start to look at the religious avocations of various members of both the government and the Loyal Opposition there are a hell of a lot of members of the British Political Class who are not only People Of Faith but who are also People of Power ..

" A new zeitgeist is capturing business people, academics and political players from both the Left and Right, looking for an ethical alternative for our time. Their inspiration? Catholic teaching. "


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20154986


Of course there are people like Ian Duncan Smith - who is an overtly Fundamentalist Christian - but there is also a very solid underpinning of religious thought that makes it not only worthy but also highly desirable that someone keep an Eye on the Ungodly.


Look at this ..

" Blurb
God has an opinion and cares about politics in the United Kingdom and that means Christians should too. This blog seeks to encourage Christians and Churches to engage with the contemporary issues we all face and to speak prophetically into the society in which we live."

And also ..." David Cameron’s Easter message: “This Government does care about faith” ....


" ...‘I do have a serious message for you tonight, and the message is that this Government does care about faith; it does care about the institutions of faith and it does want to stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation that can sometimes happen in our society. As I’ve said, it’s a good week to celebrate not just the importance of faith in our country, but also the importance of faith institutions in our country in this week when we’ve seen a new Pope and we will see a new Archbishop, because these institutions do matter.

‘Father Gillean Craig from St Mary Abbots gave a brilliant sermon last Sunday to say, ‘Well, what is it that the arrival of a new Pope and the arrival of a new Archbishop and our annual church meeting have in common?’ He made the very good point that institutions matter whether they are enormous, representing the billions of Catholics in the world, or whether they are small, local institutions that help bring our communities and our country together.

‘And so my message for you is that we should have faith, we should have hope and we should have charity. And a word on each: we should have faith because I know that our churches and particularly that our established church sometimes can struggle to attract new members of the congregation and it can sometimes, in any organisation, be a struggle. But actually what we have seen in London over the last decade is actually a 70% increase in the Church, and I think this is going to be what the new Archbishop will bring, which is a sense that if you can enthuse people, if you can fire people up, if you can show what institutions of faith can do, you can attract audiences, you can attract members, you can attract enthusiasm. So, we should have faith.

‘The second is hope. Yes, it’s a very difficult time in our country; yes, we’re having to take difficult decisions, and those difficult decisions affect people. But I hope that you can see that even in the midst of a difficult budget and difficult decisions that actually something very big and important happened today, which is that we have kept the promise to spend 0.7% of our gross national income on aid to the poorest in our world. And I think that is something we should celebrate, as Christians and as human beings.

‘I’m very proud of the fact we have appointed the first ever Minister for Faith, Sayeeda Warsi, and she has a voice at the Cabinet table; she does a brilliant job. We’ve sent out a very clear message to aggressive secularists: we changed the law so that people can go on saying prayers before council meetings. Michael Gove made the very brave decision, I thought, and right decision to give every state school a copy of the King James Bible. Some people said, ‘What a waste of money;’ I say no, I think it was a great use of money. This book is one of the things that made our country what it is today in terms of its messages and its brilliant language."


http://godandpoliticsuk.org/


Disclosure: When I was a boy in the 1950s through to the 1960s in the U.K every School Assembly started with 'An act of Christian Worship ' And I didn’t go to an overtly religious school but rather to bog standard vaguely C of E Primary/Secondary Modern Schools ... We Even had regular Hymn Practice in addition to those School Assemblies and every Friday as a Special Treat they hauled out primitive public address Loud Speakers through which would be relayed a Religious Service as broadcast on the Radio.

And Woe Betide you if you didn't join in the Singing!

175:

Arnold @ 174
Too tired to respond now - will come back to you on that tomorrow (assuming N Korea hasn't nuked anyone!)
The NSS have had a lot to say on that subject.

176:

A REAL theocracy is something like N Korea, or Saudi, or Calvin's Geneva .. "It was as if the walls of the houses had been turned into glass"
Or 1495 & later Spain, or the SW of what is now France in the early 1200's
NO separation of Church & State & contravening the state's rules is also contravening the religious rules, which means you have no right to live .....

Yes, in this country the christians are shrieking - because they are losing & know it - it's a last-ditch attempt to claw back their supposed control.
And they are beiong aided & abetted by an even tinier & even louder nasty little minority, attempting to impose their theological will on the rest of us, following their religion of "submission".

They can fight it out between themselves, of course, once they have defeated the nasty evil "Militant secularists" - like you & me.
Guk.

177:

I see there was an excellent turnout for the funeral's big-screen livecast in Edinburgh.

178:

There's been some coverage in Private Eye, as one would expect. There are several pages of the Maggie covers, a reprint of a "Dear Bill" letter, and several pages on the media coverage, in an extended "Street of Shame" section.

On the whole, it deals more with the hypocrisy of current politicians and media than with Margaret Thatcher's flaws, not that it flatters her. It's a reflection of what was said during her time as Prime Minister, not an historical analysis or an out-pouring of frantic hagiography.

179:

I thought she was kind of hot.

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