I saw people posting anti-Thatcher songs by the singer Morrissey, who entertains – but is undoubtedly “morally challenged”; I have read articles by Russell Brand; who is known not for his intellect, but for his insulting behaviour and the free use of his “dick” on young starlets; And I watched a “disgraceful” performance by Glenda Jackson: a woman who became a Millionaire-actress, living in Hollywood during the Thatcher years, whose venomous comments on Lady Thatcher – on a day chosen for making tribute to our only female Prime minister – were completely inappropriate.
And there are a host of other “entertainers” who made a lot of money out of attacking Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s who today are making comments to our young people. Sadly, much of it is untrue or half-truths!
I think, this lying by popular and influential “celebrities” on political issues is dangerous and irresponsible.
So I would like to put the record straight – albeit from my perspective as a Thatcherite and a person who was a young man during the Thatcher years. Unlike many “celebrities”, I didn’t get paid for telling jokes or writing songs about Thatcher, I worked in the world of economics and remembers very well what life was like before and after she came to power.
I hope that once certain “myths” are dispelled, hopefully our younger citizens can make up their own minds – based more on the facts than on celebrity “spin”!
I will start with Trade Unions and explain how damaging these have been for the British society.
During the Second World War, Durham coal miners were “excused military duty”. Yet whilst many other brave-men were dying, fighting for their country, these miners went on strike for more money.
Under Labour, from 1945 to 1979, the number of miners in the UK dropped from 750,000 to 220,000, mainly because continually higher “labour” costs made it more economical to import coal from other countries.
Mining in the UK, like the Steel industry and many others, was a nationalised industry. And the high salaries paid to these workers cost the country billions, and made power so expensive in the UK, that many of our factories became uncompetitive, costing massive job losses in the wealth creating private industry.
In 1980, the nationalised Steel Industry, which is heavily reliant on coal, was losing £580 million a year, it was in £5-billion worth of debt (which the tax-payer lost) and yet, the Steel workers went on strike for a 20% increase in salary. This is why the industry collapsed.
Nationalised industries were everywhere; the government (or the tax-payer) even owned removal companies and hotels. Most of which were losing money – tax-payers money!
We used to have a massive dock-workers industry – which my own family was part of – but continual strikes, caused wide-scale shortages and disruptions. Ultimately, this industrial action led to the wide-use of containers, and eventually the loss of thousands of dock-workers jobs.
By 1979, the power of undemocratic Union’s, had brought down both the Heath and the Callaghan governments, and as I mentioned in a previous article, this had caused the country to go bankrupt.
These are but a few examples of what was really happening in the UK, BEFORE Thatcher came to power: Examples which many young socialists didn’t experience, and many older socialists “choose” to ignore.
Another popular cultural myth our younger generations should know…
Whilst most Punk Rockers will claim to hate Maggie and what she did to the UK, Punk Rock was before Margaret Thatcher. Real Punks, i.e. The Sex Pistols, Souxsie and the Banshee’s, and Billy Idol, were from 1972 to 1977.
After this time, “Punk Rock” got “hi-jacked” by capitalist producers and the Media, who chose to attack Thatcher, when she became “the establishment”. (Unlike those claiming different, I was a teenager and a big fan during this period, so its first-hand knowledge). Sid Vicious joined The Sex Pistols in 1977, and died in ’79; before Thatcher came to power.
What is important about this cultural reference is that “Punk Rock” came out of despair, despair the country was in, BEFORE Thatcher.
It was big business who attacked Thatcher when she got into power. Media nd Entertainment people attacked her to make money for themselves, and that is why younger people are fooled into thinking “it was all Maggie’s Fault”..It wasn’t, but lots of people in entertainment made a lot of money out of selling these lies to the young!
Another Myth I can “burst”, is about Thatcher’s creation of “YUPPIES”. (Young, Upwardly-mobile, professionals)
I first heard this term in the Early 1980’s. And on hearing what it meant, I realised I had been a “Yuppie” since 1974!
Having left school with just one “O-Level”, in Statistics, I somehow got a job in an investment bank, Merrill Lynch: The World’s biggest Broker!
In all honesty, when I went to the interview I knew absolutely nothing about stock markets, foreign exchange or, which is very strange today, I had never heard the use of the word “commodities”. The phrase “Capital Markets” had not been coined at that time.
Anyway, after a few years in this business, I – a young “Cockney” boy – was mixing with people making millions, and working with people making 1000’s of pounds every month (a lot of money back then). And by 1979, I was making a very good income, working – in all honesty – about 3 or 4 hours a day!
But there is more to the story than that.
I was one of the very few “uneducated” people working in this business, it was generally considered a “closed-shop”, i.e. most of the guys I worked with had good educations and came from a “professional” family back-ground: bankers, lawyers, doctors.
After Maggie came to power, the doors on this business were opened to people with “ability”. The closed-shop or “Old-boy” networks were broken, and I witnessed, literally thousands of people enter the business from various backgrounds. Some of who made fortunes!
I know, because I was there, on the inside: under Thatcher, class structures were broken down. People got opportunity on “merit” – not because of who their parents were.
Therefore, Maggie destroyed “class-privilege”, she didn’t create it!
Another contentious issue is housing. And I hear lots of people claiming Maggie stopped building council houses.
Firstly, anyone who claims home ownership is wrong is lying to themselves. Most of our personal wealth is tied up in the homes we own and cherish.
Under Maggie, home ownership increased from 50% to over 70%. And many people have benefited greatly from being able to buy their first property, at a discount price, due to Thatcher.
But what they fail to appreciate, is that under Thatcher government 80/81, spending on council property represented 5.9% of all government spending, whilst under Tony Blair’s labour government, this reach a low of 1.3% in 1999/2000 (and only stood at 2.7% in 2008/09)… These figures reveal clearly the lies being retold by socialist “Thatcher haters!”.
The greatest error during the “Thatcher years”, was the introduction of the Poll-tax, which caused untold civil-unrest across the country and was eventually changed.
As a “single-occupier” of a house, I was slightly better-off when this tax was introduced, however, many did suffer, and that is why it was changed.
But today, too many are claiming “Maggie created” this massive problem…when in actual fact, the rate of Poll-tax was set by local governments: and the majority of local governments who increased the rate, to a level where it did untold damage, were Labour run councils.
And I will make another observation on the Poll-tax which many choose to ignore.
In the 1970s, the UK experienced a massive influx of immigrants. It was still a very racialist society at its core, and a lot of people, especially those living in areas where immigrants settled, made claims that “it was unfair that “the house next-door was paying the same rates, but had 5-immigrants per bedroom!”.
Rightly or wrongly, this was very much the view of many people, and the poll-tax, i.e. taxing houses based on the number of occupants, was a way of addressing many people’s views on “what was fair or not”, at the time.
Looking back on this today, especially in “multi-cultural” Britain, is difficult to admit this view existed – but none of us who were there, cannot claim this was not the widely held view at the time!
There can be no question that during the early years of her government, life for the average UK citizen was difficult. But we had to pay off our national debts, and she had to “wrestle” power back from the “undemocratic” trade unions – if she hadn’t democracy would have been lost!
Personally, I am upset at our joining of the Common Market, but that is because of what it has become today. At the time Margaret Thatcher joined, it was a trading block – indeed she fought “tooth and nail” to stop this obscene EU becoming the “political” power over British law it is today. And let is not forget, Thatcher negotiated a rebate from the EU which saved British tax-payers £75-billion. Every Prime Minister since, especially Tony Blair, has conceded to give more of our Tax-money to the EU, and conceded more Westminster power to Brussels.
I will concede that not everything Thatcher did was perfect, she made mistakes and errors, and during here period in office, not everyone benefited. But our young need to understand the truth and not the “spin” about the Thatcher years – not what some group of millionaire, “know-nothing”, champagne-socialists, celebrities, want to claim.
As a final note, everything I have stated in this article are checkable facts, they are written with my bias, as I am attempting to put the record straight, but everything mentioned is true.
I will finish on the first headline which made Maggie famous…
”Mrs Thatcher: the Milk-Snatcher!”
Margaret Thatcher was not responsible for this cut in providing “free-milk at schools”, it was a change introduced in 1970, by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Iain Macleod, who died the same year. (his budget was passed 11-days after his death, by Ted Heaths government)… As the newly appointed Minister of education, Mrs Thatcher had to enforce this law – she didn’t create it!
Still, it was a great headline, one I wish I had written!
People may argue about my views on Thatcher…but I challenge them to argue with the facts I have written in this article.