Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Happy Birthday Maggie
Almost forgotten, today was the 85th birthday of Baroness Thatcher, the woman who dragged the Conservative Party kicking and screaming back to its principles and stopped the party from just being a comma to the Labour Party's implementation of socialism.
Her victory was one that changed British politics somewhat, but changed the British economy dramatically. Not only did she set it free, pulling back the state from areas ranging from telecommunications to buses to railways to coal mines to airlines, but she so shook up the political establishment the Labour party had to abandon hard-core socialism (which meant nationalising industries ever time it got elected) and embrace a mixed-market economy to be elected. Most of us she confronted a communist (no exaggeration) union movement that was sustained by bullying, monopolies and intimidation, and won.
Let's not be deluded though. Despite the rabid vile rantings of so many on the left, Thatcher didn't dismantle the welfare state, she didn't dismantle the NHS or state education, she didn't even shrink state spending as a proportion of GDP. She did take on local government, abolishing the ridiculous Greater London Council, she did believe passionately in private enterprise and choice, but most notably she looked socialism in the eye and didn't blink. She did it in the Falklands, she did it against Moscow and did it in Brussels. She showed that she had more courage than any of the "born to rule" testicularly challenged bores who typically infest the Conservative Party.
Sadly, New Labour took her legacy and after its first term got intoxicated again on keeping much of Britain in dependency, with ever growing grants, subsidies, middle class welfare and feeding the gobbling behemoth of the NHS. This bubble popped when the recession killed off tax revenue to sustain the borrowing. In short, Gordon Brown squandered Mrs Thatcher's legacy.
What Britain has now is a pale weak unprincipled imitation of Thatcher, and a Labour Party led by a man who is cheered on by a man Thatcher defeated twice. Thatcher rescued Britain from its Post War stagnation, but she didn't dismantle Britain's welfare state. The fact that all too many today in Britain sustain a myth of Thatcher as devil shows how much she rattled the socialist consensus. She wasn't perfect by a long way, she supped with the likes of Pinochet, she mistakenly proposed a new tax for local government and had a streak of social conservatism around some issues that kept many from even considering the Conservatives (e.g. playing up to bigotry around immigrants and homosexuals).
However, for turning the tide back, temporarily, for putting the wind up a Marxist Labour Party that nearly (had it listened to Tony Benn) nationalised the 20 biggest companies in Britain in the 1970s, for being part of the Western alliance that stared down the murderous anti-human dictatorships of Marxism-Leninism (and won) and for showing Britain that there can be a better way than always turning to the state, she deserves to be congratulated for reaching 85.
Thank you to the Adam Smith Institute for this video reminder of what was: