Monday, 8 April 2013

Thatcher was right after all

You might know me as a radical anti-Tory who regrets voting for Margaret Thatcher's Tory government in my first general election.  I don't feel proud of her legacy, but I should acknowledge that she got some things right.  Not many - but I acknowledge them.

She got a lot more wrong.  She sold off the country's assets for less than half their value - gas, water, and telephone networks and social housing were worth much more than her government accepted.  I can tell you for sure that she sold 'council houses' too cheaply.  I live in one of them to this day.  I bought it for £49,500 from the former tenant who had purchased it the previous year for £19,500.  Thatcher effectively empowered the owner of this house to make a profit of £30,000 at the expense of the tax payer.  That was fair wasn't it!

Her real downfall was the 'poll tax'.  It wasn't a stupid idea.  Of course households where more adults live should pay more than households with fewer adults.  It was just implemented in the most crass and ignorant way.  A couple with children suddenly found themselves paying nearly twice as much as they had paid in 'rates' - the previous local taxation system in UK.  Single pensioners who ought to have had a financial gain found that they were still paying the same as before.  Naturally that was going to get a reaction - and indeed it got an excessive reaction.  People died because of this.

I could go on, but you will be glad to hear that I won't.

What did she get right?
  • As the first ever British female prime minister I have to offer respect.
  • She stood up to Northern Irish terrorists (many of whom are now in the government in that province) and resisted their violence bravely.
  • I had forgotten this, but it turns out that she opposed apartheid in South Africa and yet maintained that Nelson Mandela had rightly been imprisoned as a terrorist.  I'm not prepared to change my view of this just because Thatcher agreed with me.
So I do not mourn her.  However the Tory Witch was not wrong on every subject.  I wish the same could be said for David Cameron - the current barely-elected prime minister.

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