Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: RIP

Like her or loath her, no one can dispute that Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and polarising political leader of the last century. I was never a fan and, while I feel sad, as I would for any other human being, at the way she declined in her latter years, I cannot be hypocritical and join in with her beatification. Neither can I join in with her vilification. Mrs Thatcher, if I may plagiarise the title of a song, These are the (no-so) foolish things that remind me of you:

1. She supported the retention of capital punishment
2. She destroyed the country's manufacturing industry
3. She voted against the relaxation of divorce laws
4. She abolished free milk for schoolchildren - Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher (I chanted this at a public meeting she spoke at in Plymouth in the early 1970s!)
5. She supported more freedom for business (and look how that turned out)
6. She gained support from the National Front in the 1979 election by pandering to the fears of immigration
7. She gerrymandered local authorities by forcing through council house sales, at the same time preventing councils from spending the money they got for selling houses on building new houses (spending on social housing dropped by 67% in her premiership)
8. She was responsible for 3.6 million unemployed - the highest figure and the highest proportion of the workforce in history and three times the previous government. Massaging of the figures means that the figure was closer to 5 million
9. She ignored intelligence about Argentinian preparations for the invasion of the Falkland Islands and scrapped the only Royal Navy presence in the islands
10. The poll tax
11. She presided over the closure of 150 coal mines; we are now crippled by the cost of energy, having to import expensive coal from abroad
12. She compared her "fight" against the miners to the Falklands War
13. She privatised state monopolies and created the corporate greed culture that we've been railing against for the last 5 years
14. She introduced the gradual privatisation of the NHS
15. She introduced financial deregulation in a way that turned city institutions into avaricious money pits
16. She pioneered the unfailing adoration and unquestioning support of the USA
17. She allowed the US to place nuclear missiles on UK soil, under US control
18. Section 28
19. She opposed anti-apartheid sanctions against South Africa and described Nelson Mandela as "that grubby little terrorist"
20. She support the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and sent the SAS to train their soldiers
21. She allowed the US to bomb Libya in 1986, against the wishes of more than 2/3 of the population
22. She opposed the reunification of Germany
23. She invented Quangos
24. She increased VAT from 8% to 17.5%
25. She had the lowest approval rating of any post-war Prime Minister
26. Her post-PM job? Consultant to Philip Morris tobacco at $250,000 a year, plus $50,000 per speech
27. The Al Yamamah contract
28. She opposed the indictment of Chile's General Pinochet
29. Social unrest under her leadership was higher than at any time since the General Strike
30. She presided over interest rates increasing to 15%
31. BSE
32. She presided over 2 million manufacturing job losses in the 79-81 recession
33. She opposed the inclusion of Eire in the Northern Ireland peace process
34. She supported sanctions-busting arms deals with South Africa
35. Cecil Parkinson, Alan Clark, David Mellor, Jeffrey Archer, Jonathan Aitkin
36. Crime rates doubled under Thatcher
37. Black Wednesday – Britain withdraws from the ERM and the pound is devalued. Cost to Britain - £3.5 billion; profit for George Soros - £1 billion
38. Poverty doubled while she opposed a minimum wage
39. She privatised public services, claiming at the time it would increase public ownership. Most are now owned either by foreign governments (EDF) or major investment houses. The profits don’t now accrue to the taxpayer, but to foreign or institutional shareholders.
40. She cut 75% of funding to museums, galleries and other sources of education
41. In the Thatcher years the top 10% of earners received almost 50% of the tax remissions
42. 21.9% inflation

Many thanks to Philip Cave, via Facebook, for this list.  I haven't checked it but it fits my recollections. And, I'll admit, my prejudices.

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