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08 April 2013

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harry

Well observed.

harry

I blame myself for this. If you havnt detected much vitrio directed towards Blair and Labour then i have not done my job. I am a leftist. I despise Blair and all he stands for. I despise Jeremy Heywood and Alistair Campbell. Gordon Brown and Ed Balls. Peter Mandelson. And particular the Millibands. All traitors and fools although I am being a bit hard on Brown. Silly me they were not fools. They conspired to take decisions which increased their power and prestige while diminishing their country. Thats not foolish.

I suspect them of being fools because I doubt they understood all the implications of their decisions.

Btw, the immigration to the UK is not the problem. If anything it has helped the country. The natives who can leave do leave. The selling out to neocon interest groups is the problem.

Medicine Man

I'm not sure how I'd apportion vitriol between those two. Maybe I'm having a pattern recognition error but it seems like the financialization that Thatcher championed often begets internationalization of the Blair variety.

Fred

Good thing you weren't running the show in 1940.

walrus

Margaret Thatcher is the ultimate example of Col. Langs "Hard Hearted Empath".

Very few of you have seen the flower of rampant Left wing Unionism in full flight. I have. It is as evil and corrupting and ruinous as its right wing brother and Margaret Thatcher did the right thing for Britain in killing Unionism stone dead and beggaring its supporters.

British industrial institutions of that time were the walking dead. They had no hope of competing and they had to be put down. They had no future.

The cursing of the Thatcher name by the victims is understandable.

The criticism of her by intellectuals merely confirms that Britain still has not learned any lessons about economics and innovation.

zanzibar

David

"I really do think that the notion of some kind of functioning Soviet system, which suddenly collapsed under the impact of the challenge from Reagan and Thatcher, is over-simplified."

I completely concur with your viewpoint. IMO, there is an MSM consensus here in America that Reagan's military build up and his uncompromising anti-Soviet stance brought to an end the Soviet Union. As you note it is far more complex.

In my view, the role of economics should not be underestimated in the hollowing out of the Soviet state - making it ripe for a collapse. The Soviet economy presumed extraordinary prescience on the part of their "central planners". While it may have worked to generate some positive metrics (e.g: coal production) for short periods of time, it was always doomed to failure from a historical perspective. I believe the final nail in the coffin of the Soviet economy was the collapse in commodity prices through the 80s. Russia continues to remain a natural resource based economy even today.

The irony is the extent of statism and "central planning" at least in monetary affairs in the west over the past several decades.

From the perspective of politics I must admit that I did vote for Reagan and rooted for Maggie Thatcher to "rescue" Britain from what I perceived across the pond as the destruction of Britain by militant labor unions. Even with hindsight I still have much admiration for Mrs. Thatcher, although I believe she was far too strident and her ideology clouded her judgment on many occasions. Her natural euro-skepticism will be fully vindicated in time. Britain is much better off, IMO, today than if it had run headlong deeply into the EU.

I was disappointed with Reagan's first term and did not vote for him the second time. In retrospect I believe that the Reagan presidency set the stage for the financialization of the US economy and the massive growth of debt to sustain an unreal standard of living. He "democratized" the notion of a free lunch. He also, IMO, expanded the Nixonian ethos of the ends justify the means and the erosion of the rule of law. We have gone exponential with these notions since then.

While I am at it, I should also note that I did vote for Jimmy Carter - the peanut farmer from Georgia was hard to resist. While his call for energy conservation if heeded would continue to serve us well, I never agreed with his idea for a new Dept of Energy, which was created to ostensibly make the US energy independent. That has not happened yet but the DoE is now many times larger proving that the nature of many a government bureaucracy is to grow and grow while failing at it's core mission.

Fred

Industrial wealth wasn't resourced to China manufacturing capacity was moved. The engineering talent is still in the UK. UK inductries need to find a way to compete on something other than labor rates and government subsidies.

Lord Curzon

Apartheid supported? I suggest you do a little more reading: her resistance to sanctions on SA was the realisation that they would bite hardest at the bottom of that society. That sanctions would not hurt the elite, but would lead to more violence and empower the ultra-hardliners in the SA Government. She told PW Botha that he needed to free Mandela and all the imprisoned ANC leaders, which is somewhat contrary to the popular - by which, of course, I mean presented by pop singers and luvvies with sod all comprehension of real life - view of the time.

Mike

Sorry, not so. - By 1425, the English monarchs were entirely English. For a century or two after the Norman Conquest after 1066 of course, there had been a deep ethnic split between the conquered English (Anglo-Saxons) peasantry and the Norman French aristocracy. But English society had evolved and changed so that by 400 years later when Henry V won at Azincourt- the same period of time that separates us from Shakespeare - that stark division had long disappeared into the past.

Tyler

Neocons are always for more immigration. Your own countrymen disagree with you on immigration not being the problem. Labor criminally flooded the country with the 3rd world to rub the Right's nose in diversity, and your country is floundering.

Tyler

I don't think Thatcher would have rubbed the right's nose in diversity by inviting in the 3rd world to displace native Britons, but your point is taken. Maybe if she had more time?

'The saddest words, said by man/
Is the phrase 'it might have been'

kxd

I'm curious to know Tyler, how do you think Aparthied should've been dealt with?

kxd

Without the sanctions the National Party could have continued a policy of aparthied for a much longer period. The fact that they were cut off from the rest of the world coupled with the student protests and workers striking were grinding the economy to a standstill. It's what gave De Klerk the leverage(or forced his hand depending on how you look at it) to turn towards the ANC and try to negotiate a peaceful transition. That South Africa is turning to sh*t right now is due to corruption and a betrayal of Mandela and his contemporaries. The fats cats saw that there was money to be made and an entire group of voters to hustle and play. But hey, in a democracy you get the government you deserve.

Paul Escobar

Walrus,

Your sentiment was popular in the USSR. Those tyrants also viewed unions as "evil and corrupting" - quickly dismantling the institution & persecuting its supporters.

That is why many American & European workers unions contributed significantly (money, propaganda, and bodies) in the fight against the Soviet tyrants. Poland is the obvious example, but less publicized are the efforts of the American unions:
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/CIA/CIO_without_CIA.html
"For four decades, the AFL - CIO international presence was notable less for its promotion of labor rights than for its Cold War ferocity. At global conventions, for instance, the labor federation's protocol required AFL-CIO representatives to stand up and leave the room whenever members of insufficiently anti-Communist unions like Italy's CGIL entered."

At any rate, the broad nature of your comment reflects deep sympathy - rather than "hard hearted" empathy.

Scandinavian nations have the highest unionization rates in the world (most above 50%). Both blue & white collar workers, spanning a diversity of industries, utilize such an institution.

They also happen to be very competitive & innovative economies.

The Washington Times recently examined the respected German manufacturing sector, and attributed its strength to a collaboration between government, business, & union:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/8/getting-ahead-by-getting-along/
"Most factories in Germany are unionized, businesses have labor representatives on their boards, and union demands typically are not sources of tension or hostility with management. On a recent tour of factories here, chief executives professed to value their workers for their institutionalized knowledge and skills."

One can debate whether "unionism" was a problem in the UK context. But it is pure politics to argue that it is a problem in *every* context.

Best,
Paul Escobar

Grimgrin

The thing that amazed me about Thatcher, watching from Canada, was how long, how personally, and how intensely she was hated by many in the UK.

I remember a panel show from Britain I watched about a year ago where one guest recounted going to dinner with Margaret Thatcher. She stated that Margaret was wondering why her husband Dennis wasn't there having, forgotten that her husband had died due to her advancing dementia. The guest then said that part way through the meal Thatcher turned to her and said "It's alright, I've remembered". It was an awful story to hear about anyone. Another guest responded to it by saying "Yes, but it happened to Margaret Thatcher, so it's funny. If she'd gotten a fork jammed her eye, that would be funny too." This was met with a round of applause from the audience. It was staggering.

Medicine Man

I want to comment on this some more but I'm a bit tired right now.

I'm not so much questioning Thatcher's motives as commenting on the consequences of some of her policies. For all the flaws of organized labor, especially the British incarnation, I remain wary of situations where labor is entirely overthrown in favor of capital. The type of diversity you disdain is looked upon as profitable by a certain class of politico; the kind who regards the country's wealth as the end purpose of the country rather than a means.

When I think about Thatcher my main misgiving is that she may have saved her country from a precipitous decline but jobbed the next generation of Briton workers in the process - leaving them exposed to the cretins who followed in her wake.

Tyler

No, that's a fair point and I agree with you. Its a complicated situation that can't be boiled down to a Right/Left paradigm. Yes the Unions were out of control, but her shattering labor while turning London into a financial hub was... problematic in the end.

I've been to Newcastle, and I understand what people mean when they say how the city was wrecked by her policies, but I tend to look on her as the least worst option. I'm not really sure how many other ways 'out' there were for the UK at that point, which I believe is a situation we'll be facing here shortly.

Of course, I was still chewing on my toys when Thatcher was in power, so my observations have a definite distance. For those of you here who lived in Thatcher's UK or who worked in the webs of power, there is definitely a much more visceral perspective that I am lacking.

Hope you get that rest, MM - I feel the same.

Tyler

Keep the status quo, of course. What business did the USA have sticking its nose in South Africa's business? This was proto-neocon do goodery that eventually put us in Iraq, the idea that 'democracy' is some sort of cure all panacea that solves all ills. Those in power tend to forget that the Founding Fathers thought a democracy a low form of government (Jefferson said something about the rule of the mob), and that we're a contitutional republic for a reason.

The silent genocide of whites continues in Rhodesia and South Africa, but hey some Americans and neocons got to feel good about themselves and we got a Lethal Weapon movie out of it so that's alright, eh?

Amir

Enjoy the following about "Rusted Lady":
http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/04/margaret-thatcher

William R. Cumming

The most basic Thatcher mistake was to price North Sea oil too cheaply. Now almost gone.

Now London survives on culture alone.

The CITY is losing after three decades as having the most clout in the British economy.

A Rentier Class cannot lead a nation to hard or soft power. Just ask Byzintine Emperors.

Personally I think Britain should export soldiers ala Nepal and its Gurhkas!

David Habakkuk

zanzibar,

I strongly agree with almost all of what you say.

On the unions, Thatcher was quite patently right. I did actually in the Seventies and early Eighties see a good deal of what walrus calls ‘the flower of rampant Left wing Unionism in full flight’, both in the newspaper and television industries, in which I was employed, and in other areas on which I worked as a journalist. I would slightly qualify what ‘Lord Curzon’ said, in that although the class war element was certainly there, one of the most striking and pernicious elements of the British trade union movement was its extraordinary sectionalism.

If my memory serves me with right, there were sixteen separate unions at the British Leyland car plant at Longbridge near Birmingham, all vigorously competing with each other as well as fighting the management. And the ‘rubbish piled in the streets’, which together with unburied corpses and like matters was what finally secured Thatcher’s election, was the product of public sector workers trying to keep up with the runaway wage demands in the private sector and fighting a Labour government – not of politics.

I do not think that ‘Lord Curzon’s’ sneer about ‘the consensual politics favoured by the men sat in comfortable armchairs, in their clubs in St James’ is entirely justified, by the way. Although he would have been in diapers at the time, I very vividly recollect Edward Heath’s failed attempt to confront the trade unions in the February 1974 election. How far its failure was to do with Heath’s particularly awkward and chilly personality, how far with the fact that the time was not ripe, is a moot point.

The success of Thatcher was partly due to her own strength of will and determination and populist instincts, but the fact that people had stared anarchy in the face in the late Seventies created conditions in which would have been impossible earlier became possible. And in the Falklands, as Harry notes, she was very lucky. Had the Argentinian pilots and armourers sorted out their fusing problems more rapidly, both the war, and the whole course of British politics subsequently, could have been very different.

Ironically, the television programme on which I was working at the time of Thatcher’s election was heavily influenced by its first presenter Peter Jay, who as economics editor of the Times had been one of the principal disseminators of Friedmanite monetarism in the U.K. In those years I also had a good deal of contact with theoretical economists, and while I admired some of them greatly, I came to think they could be very simplistic in their thinking – a conviction which was reinforced when the British broadcasting industry was remodeled on the basis of ideas either from or rooted in economics. In my experience, theoretical economists are commonly largely incapable of understanding institutions, and have a limited understanding of and interest in questions about how concrete markets actually work. In part, this is because economics tended to work in term of ludicrously oversimplied notions of what ‘information’ is.

The fact that Bernanke and others were talking about the ‘great moderation’, which had supposedly paved the way for an era of economic stability, at a time when a whole range of forms of ‘financial innovation’, together with accumulating imbalances, were creating a radically unstable system, may I think be partly bound up with these problems.

Moreover, the implicit message of the kind of economics which became dominant in the Thatcher years was that the unrestrained pursuit of individual self-interest can naturally be expected to produce benign outcomes. Something which has disappeared – which one did not uncommonly use to find among the ‘men sat in comfortable armchairs, in their clubs in St James’ – is the notion that privilege must justify itself. So, for instance, figures like David Cameron, George Osborne, or Boris Johnson are patently not ‘gentlemen’, in the sense in which John Henry Newman, or indeed Robert E. Lee, would have understood the word.

harry

Probably yes. Or even in 1939.

Look, I take a sort of social history position here. Im sure Winston Churchill was a great leader. But the war wasnt fought and won by Churchill. It was fought and won by millions of ordinary British and Americans (and west indians etc) who took up arms and suffered for victory. The Brits went back home to their coal mines and worked for poor wages and worse food after the war. And later their kids striked to improve their wages and conditions. Then Thatcher broke the unions and shut down their towns. She did so because the unions WERE too powerful, and the UK labour market was not flexible enough.

Now the UK labour market is very "flexible". Wages are crap, and even Polish people dont want to come to work there anymore cos they have a better standard of life in Poland. The banks are bust and the army is a tiny shambles. Barely able to assist our American allies.

But at least the Falklands are still British.

Which part of this should I cheer? Who deserves the credit for this outcome? I like to think myself a patriot so I do care. Whoever it is (and I still have an open mind on this question) they did NOT do a good job for the country. Maybe it was all inevitable but as I said I can see how mistakes were made. Mistakes which benefitted narrow interest groups at the expense of the majority. So if you want to celebrate any British politician (even one of the towering figures of the last 50 years) could you first remind me what so great about Great Britain?

harry

Im not sure which came first. The outflow of Brits leaving for other happier places like Canada Australia or NZ. Or the inflow of Somalis or Mexicans or Poles. Its true that the classic new labour voter works in the City and hires a Bulgarian cleaner to work off the books. I know I did. Similarly the Polish builders are cheaper and more honest and hard working than most of the British ones. So I think the real attraction of open immigration is low wages and expensive real estate. The increased labour vote is just a happy byproduct.

The middle class in the UK have a lot to answer for. However they didnt drive out other brits. They just left. Thank heavens the new comers actually have kids otherwise we would totally depopulate like Italy.

However the downside is that Britain is increasingly immigrant.

Dont worry. Its not the first time. Happened multiple times in the past. Romans, Saxons, Angles, Norseman, Hugenots, Eastern Europeans Jews, Italians, Bengalis etc and now Somalis and Poles (again). Give it a generation or two and they will be just as banally british as the rest of us.

harry

I think this is the crucial point. UK has made this error many times in the past 100 years. Probably for the same reason the corn laws persisted so long.

harry

Excellent comment.

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