*** British history : Thatcherism -- Rescuing Britain

Modern English History: Thatcherism--Rescuing Britain

Figure 1.--Britain was the most prosperous country in Europe, until the Labour Party won the 1945 General Election. It was not until Mrs. Thatcher became prime-minister that Britain began addressing the Labour policies that had damaged the British economy. Here we see Carol and Mark Thstcher with their mother about 1960. They were twins who were born 6 weeks premature in London during 1953. The portrait looks to have been taken about 1960, two decades more Mrs. Thatcher became prime-minister.

Britain has sometimes been described as a 'nation of shop keepers'. Some attribute this to a derisive comment of Emperor Napoleon, although that attribution has never been confirmed. Nothing can better describe Mrs. Thatcher's origins and her foundation, although she was the first induividual from a shop keeper to lead the country. She grew up in a modest apartment over the family grocery store in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She helped in the grocery acquainting her with hard work and thrift and the non-academic basis of capitalism. In the run up to World War II, her family provided sanctuary to a teenage Jewish girl who had escaped NAZI Germany (1938). She and her older sister Muriel saved their pocket money to help the teenager reach Britain. 【Campbell, p. 38–39.】 She was an excellent and diligent student. And benefiting from post-War shifts in the British class system, she was propelled by a sound grammar school education to Oxford University where she excelled. She married a wealthy businessman, giving her financial independence. Notably she made him breakfast every morning, even in Downing Street. She entered politics at the grassroots level and emerged as the darling of the right-wing of the Conservative Party because of her fierce championship of capitalism. She overcame the resistance of the established Conservative Party and its accommodation with socialism. was chosen as prime-minister (1979), becoming Britain's first woman's prime-minister (1979). Ronald Reagan was elected president in America a year later (1980). The two would become allies in confronting the Soviet Union. A sovit journalist dubbed her, the 'Iron Lady'. An appelage that stuck. She and Regan would play a major role in the eventual destruction of Communism (1991). Mrs. Thatcher would dominate British policies for a decade (1980s). She benefited from the British public's increasing frustration with the Labor Union's lock on economic policy using strikes and other disruptive labor stoppages. While the National Health System was untouchable, increasing numbers of British voters were beginning to see the vast and growing welfare system as a major impediment to economic growth. She was particularly fortunate as North Sea oil provided an important stimulus to the economy. Because she took on the Unions and curtailed the growth of the welfare system and championed capitalism, she was viciously attacked by the Labour (Socialist) Party. No Brutish prime minister was subjected to the same degree of absolute loathing backed by the left-leaning media. As a result, she might not have lasted long, had not of all things the generals in Argentina decided to invade sparsely populated, wind-swept islands in the South Atlantic (1982). Few Brits had even realized that the Falkland Islands were a part of Britain's once huge Empire. Mrs. Thatcher's forceful response resulted in a swelling of patriotic feeling that would help keep her in office for the rest of the decade (1980s). Her first target was inflatiion, persistently high under Labour. She had an intuitive belief in free markets and launched into major reforms: cut government and social spending, reduced taxes, backed business friendly legislation, and tapped people with business backgrounds into Government. She provided a robust answer to her critics that they were not used to have to deal with. Question Time was unusually entertaining. Her probing responses were not well received, especially by the militant trade unions and Labour Party tied to them. The Unions never fully understood that wages and personal income was not based on welfare, but the success of British business. And she gave as good as she got in the political debates with the unions and opposition Labour Party--which only increased the intensity of their hatred for her. She faced resistance from the Tory Grandees who she derided as the 'Wets'. Despite some resistance from her Party, she defeated Labour in three successive Labour challenges. She has been criticized for resolutely keeping Britain out of the European Union. She would never be defeated by Labour, but inevitably replaced by her own party (1990). A biographer incisively summarizes her genius. "What [Thatcher] managed to do, more effectively than any other politician in history --including Ronald Reagan -- was to convey a very particular message about socialism. It was not only that socialism was an economically inefficient way to organize human societies. It was not only that Communism regimes had in the 20th century drenched the world in blood. It was that socialism itself --in all its incarnations, wherever and however it was applied --was morally corrupting. Socialism turns good citizens into bad ones ... even when it did not lead directly to the Gulags, It transformed formerly hard-working and self reliant men and women into wining, weak and flabby loafers ...." 【Berlinski】 One of her substantial, but often unhealed achievement was after handily defeating labor boss Arthur Scargill and Labour leader Michael Foot, she forced the Labour Party to reform itself into a more modern socialist party.


Berlinski, Cklaire. There Is No Alternative (2011).

Campbell, John. Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady Vol. 2. (Random House: 2011)..


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Created: 7:09 PM 9/2/2023
Last updated: 7:09 PM 9/2/2023