Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Good bye, Maggie

The Baroness is the second in the great conservative triumvirate of the 80s to go.  She had been preceded by Reagan in 2004, and is survived by Helmut Kohl (now 83).  Together, they represented the peak of conservative politics in the “free world," ushering in a new era of supply-side economics, which surprisingly did very little to stimulate American or European economies during their reigns, yet undermined the social welfare state in all three countries.  The US saw its worst “misery index” three years into Reagan’s first term with unemployment peaking at 10.3% in 1983.  Thatcherism resulted in 11.3% unemployment in the UK a year later (half way through her tenure) with staggering interest rates and a sharp fall in production to boot.  Unemployment in Germany peaked at 9.4% the same year. Yet, each is remembered as a champion of the unbridled free market and great prosperity.

It was refreshing to see The Guardian present Thatcherism by the numbers, when most other news outlets have been heaping praise on Thatcher right and left.  She is now fondly remembered as the “Iron Lady,” a term coined by the Soviet press, which she wore like a proud moniker.  Yet, her only real battle was over the Falkland Islands, when British naval forces repelled an Argentine fleet bent on retaking the remote colonial outcrop.  Hardly the stuff of legend, much like Reagan’s great battle in Grenada.  The media lost interest pretty quickly.  Instead, She and Ronnie are remembered for bringing an end to the Cold War by embracing Gorbacev as an agent of change in the Soviet Union.

The fact of the matter is that they didn’t even see the end coming.  They did their best to prop up Gorbacev’s failing regime, while protests rocked Eastern Europe, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Of course, Thatcher, Reagan and Kohl all took credit for it, claiming their bellicose words precipitated the fall.  Rather, it was movements like Solidarity in Poland that were the real agents of change.  Thatcher was quick to dump Gorby in favor of Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, who became the new faces of the East.  Lonely Mikhail was left to grapple with a disintegrating Soviet Union that crumbled apart two years later.

History has a way of becoming a fog.  We remember Margaret Thatcher more for her indomitable personality than her deeds, much the same way Ronald Reagan and to a lesser extent Helmut Kohl are remembered.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt having Meryl Streep give old Maggie a kinder, gentler face in a recent biopic.  This is how most persons would like to remember her, even the good folks of BBC, which have been running tributes continually since her death at 87.


  1. I was living in England when she was elected. I was relieved to see Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow come through with some reasonable overview of what she really accomplished: increased inequality and poverty, in a country that was definitely struggling already.

    1. The same legacy that we are living with here thanks to Iron Ronnie.

    2. They were such great pals. Chicken hawks more than iron hawks though. What a hoot that great war in the Falkland Islands was. But, a good way to divert attention away from Britain's struggling economy.

  2. Rod Stewart's Maggie May comes to mind,

    All you did was wreck my bed
    And in the morning kick me in the head.
    Oh maggie I couldn't have tried anymore.
    You lured me away from home cause you didn't want to be alone.
    You stole my heart I couldn't leave you if I tried.


  3. Never would have made that connection. Now I always will!

  4. I have said before and will say again: I LOVE the people of England & Scotland.

    Here's why:





    And I have been told by more than one pal in the UK that the song "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" is currently the most requested song there on radio.

    1. That's what they played on a boombox pulled on a wagon as they danced in the streets here the night Bush was finally gone.

  5. Here's a list of the Witch's evils:

    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")
    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

  6. here's more:

    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

    1. and then there's this:

      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

      Honor the Witch or her ally Reagan? I'd rather have Benedict Arnold as the Patron Saint of Brooklyn.

  7. A very dirty laundry list, that's for sure, but you wouldn't know it to read all the accolades being heaped upon her these past two days. What a farce!

    1. The myth making begins. It's how it's done.

      The other day Rachel Maddow featured the Ronald Reagan Legacy project (started I noticed by Norquist, the anti-tax guy, of course). Their goal is to have a monument or tribute or school or road named for Reagan in every county in the US. Propaganda lives.

    2. I imagine they will continue to push to have Ronnie on the $10 bill since few know who Alexander Hamilton is anymore. Maybe their money would be better spent encouraging Republicans to learn history?

    3. They should put him on the $3 bill.

  8. Great review of songs inspired by Thatcherism,


  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uMFjFoq6T9M

  10. I see the conservative pundits have struck at Obama for not going to Thatcher's funeral,


  11. I think he's busy at the moment.