Looking back at the rhetoric and actions of Mrs T, one side of me and many respects the tackling of man ills in Britain and the rise of meritocracy she was both a symbol and protagonist for. The other side of me now remembers the bitterness she spoke of many landsmen and the lack of compassion for those once called " the enemy within"
"We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty"
which coupled to her middle-class-bourgeois "kulturkampf" can be easily likened to :
"Those nations who are still opposed to us will some day recognize the greater enemy within"
: from another democratically elected leader, who also chose to demonise an otherwise productive sector of society, Adolf Hitler.
So in remembering her rhetoric and lack of respect for communities which had once paved London streets with golden stock traders salaries, I think of her also then as the Female Führer, with the miners and steel workers as her enemy within, her Jews and gypsies.
A culture of a life and family commitment to the two industries which subsidies or not, had built Britains wealth: the raw supply for value conversion which finds reward on the stock market. Only the investment-. ROI was biased. The industries weren't modernised. The ironies are abundant: we imported subsidised coal from New Zealand and from the then communist Poland during the miners strike. After the planned downsizing, the command economy of reducing world capacity for steel closed one of the most productive mills in the world, Ravenscraig, it took only a few years for there to be a shortage of steel and a protected market in the US conserving its own capacity. That the union jack waving privatisations of Rover, and the stock market freedoms lead to the Germans and Chinese raking out our brands and technologies.
In the same way as Jewish citizens in 1920s Germany were often the most productive and enterprising of peoples, who made many Christian Germans wary and lead to them being an easy target, so the steel and coal workers were a productive backbone from the industrial revolution, through to the war years and into the last great epoch of Britain as an manufacturing giant from the 50s to the early 70s. She demonised this class of workers who were dependent on their pits and mills.
As a prime minister, Margaret Thatcher had two full terms and was then ousted while in her third, not by the country who had by then voted over 50% of votes cast against her government, but by her own party. A betrayal but just like tackling the overly powerful unions of the late 70s, the overly powerful "female Fuhrer" had to be toppled because she had become an obstacle to policy making and progressive governance.
This is what really points to the symbolic Boadecia she was: a great figure head, great at showing the decisions the back room wanted to make, great at doing what her city advisors asked as long as she understood it in the context of a small british business. When the Frankenstein of education minister to party leader to PM began to show she was coming off her own rails, she was elbowed by the gray non event that was John Major, the only man who ever ran away FROM the circus to live a very dull life indeed.
Her legacy is like a glowing memory for many as we wade in the ashes of a Britain which is now based on funny "fictitious trading" money, power companies who cheat the public, and keynsian circles which help float the British Isles still owned by London.
Put another way, fewer people were on government benefits when in 1979 than when she left office in 1990. Britain entered full recession in the early 80s and it was more private companies who went bust than the public "failures" of mining, steel and car production. Companies which had never been propped up by the government and which had never had large scale industrial relations issues. It was biscuit bakeries, tyre plants and toy factories I remember on the ITN weekly toll and when ever we drove past Drumchapel in west Glasgow.
Just as now that an ambitious, high income, high spending Labour party get the blame for the ills of an equity trader's construct, the finance crisis, the biggest recession since the 30s, in fact a depression in most of southern europe, so did all this get blamed on the unions. Like the jews in 1920 and 30s Germany they became the scapegoat for the ills of a wider econo-cultural malaise.
Back to more on benefits once she left office: Big Bang and the relaxation of personal consumer credit, was of course going to both inject huge amounts of money into the south eastern economy of England and create a long term monster of paper-card-house building and legalised, neigh encouraged pyramid-selling. In the period 1980-1983 the UK did not fair well at all, when compared to socialist France and the centre right Germans. As I say, this wasn't because of the terrible public owned industries, it was that the old capitalist ways of unde-rinvesting, under-training, unmodernised and basically mediocre quality production had come to a crashing end as world demand for British products dived. Domestic demand also crashed. Without the Falklands War, Maggie may have lost to a lib-lab pact or at least been ousted. Public spending went UP as a proportion of GDP but the public sector borrowing requirement was addressed by selling off BA and shares in Rolls Royce amongst other tactics to pay off and restructure national debt.
So the Thatcher government set about firstly having to pay the dole bill for hundreds of thousands of workers from failing private industries which had collapsed under their own inertia. Also the government had to fund the Falklands war. First term Thatcher years: High public spending and Keynesian circles floating the country.
Second term: This is when the back room boys from the Adam Smith Inst, and the city got their way. Firstly, big bang would be allowed to go ahead and even accelerated. Also then consumer credit would be liberalised. More debt would be paid by further sales of public shares in "nationalised" companies and it was clear that GDP would swell from the City getting deregulated and of course yes, by the few strong industries enjoying less strikes, union disruptions and government intervention. Trident was also on the order books of Barrow in Furnace, Rolls Royce and Tarmac amongst many others as the biggest single spend in renewal of "assets" since WWII. Canary Wharf, at least a billion pounds of tax payers money, and more over, ideologically motivated public funds into an empty office block post black monday and the right sizing of the later eighties.
From a purely Nationalist right wing point of view, a UKIP stand point: what did Thatcher actually leave as her legacy? Well all that stock market freedom which helped investment in UK industry, also meant of course that UK brands- the embodiment of wealth creation, the big value-add to the bottom line, could be sold off to the Germans, the japanese and later of course, the Chinese - a crypto capitalist dicatatorship.
Also all that sabre rattling at Europe and the castration of Strasbourg as a potential democratic tool for harmony: She got her way, that strong national interests represented through Brussels and not Strasbourg, would get their way as we see today in 2013, five years into international crisis. So now that monster is eating away at the meaning of the EU: Germany is the strongest caller and the pied piper for now, with little Davey Cameron cocking his hat to that, while in fact a democratic body in Strasbourg with real powers and real accountability may have laid enough in the way of Eurozone to slow the introduction of the Euro, in so many lands, in terms of questions like those...well....those now actually answered - yes it can ruin your health. Strasbourg then could have tempered the ideology and put in place controls, rather than playing to the big drum beat of the dominant national governments.
Now we stand again on a knife edge and the end of an old epoch, with the old epochers standing there like the Unions of the late 70s, and saying " we need more of the same!! Yes !! More disease is the cure for the disease!!" in otherwords, we need less regulation of financial markets and businesses, we need less democratic accountability and we need more divide between rich and poor by tax breaks to the wealthy and cuts in wages, welfare, schooling and state benefits to the masses.
Like 1979, we stand in need for leaders who will say no, more disease is not the cure, we need a new epoch with some bitter pills for some people to swallow in terms of credit and regulation.