The Legacy of Margaret Thatcher

Sean Gabb

Much will be said over the next few weeks about the “achievements” of Margaret Thatcher. These will probably divide between Daily Mailish eulogies and Guardianesque whines. My own view is that she was a bad thing for England.

She started the transformation of this country into a politically correct police state. Her Government behaved with an almost gloating disregard for constitutional norms. She brought in money laundering laws that have now been extended to a general supervision over our financial dealings. She relaxed the conditions for searches and seizure by the police. She increased the numbers and powers of the police. She weakened trial by jury. She weakened the due process protections of the accused. She gave executive agencies the power to fine and punish without due process. She began the first steps towards total criminalisation of gun possession.

She did not cut government spending. Instead, she allowed the conversion of local government and the lower administration into a system of sinecures for the Enemy Class. She allowed political correctness to take hold in local government. When she did oppose this, it involved giving central government powers of supervision and control useful to a future politically correct government. She extended and tightened the laws constraining free speech about race and immigration.

Her encouragement of enterprise never amounted to more than a liking for big business corporatism. Genuine enterprise was progressively heaped with taxes and regulations that made it hard to do business. Big business, on the other hand, was showered with praise and legal indulgences. Indeed, her privatisation policies were less about introducing competition and choice into public services than in turning public monopolies into corporate monsters pampered by the State with subsidies and favourable regulations – corporate monsters that were expected in return to lavish financial rewards on the political class.

She virtually began the war on freedom of choice where smoking is concerned. She started the modern obsession with health and safety as an excuse for controlling our lives. She vastly expended state powers of supervision and control over parenting, and immensely expanded the numbers and powers of social workers.

She made the environmental nonsense politically fashionable. She was the first senior British politician to start wittering about climate change and ozone holes. She doubtless thought she was further stuffing the coal miners. In fact, she was a useful idiot for the ideology best suited to replace socialism as an excuse for Enemy Class domination.

She hardly cut taxes. She ruthlessly pushed the speed of European integration. Her militaristic foreign policy and slavish obedience to Washington mostly worked against the interests of this country. The one war she fought that might have some justification was only necessary because her own colleagues had effectively told the Argentine Government to invade the Falkland Islands.

Even her reforms of the trade union movement had malevolent effects. Before her, trade unions were run by ordinary working class people who used the strike and violence to achieve their ends. She ensured that the unions were taken over by the usual Enemy Class graduates. These were the only people capable of using the health and safety and workplace discrimination laws and so forth that were brought in to replace the older methods of advancing working class interests. The result has been the co-option of the trade unions to purposes that have done nothing at all to advance working class interests.

Forget Margaret Thatcher as some hero of our Movement. She was at best the midwife of the New Labour Revolution. She did not just make the world safe for New Labour – she created New Labour. Without her precedents and her general transformation of our laws and institutions, Tony Blair would have been impossible.

I am inclined to wish James Callaghan had won in 1979. If things had turned nasty thereafter, it would at least have been an honest despotism. No libertarians or genuine conservatives would have been making idiots of themselves a third of a century later trying to tell themselves and everyone else that it was other than it was.

53 responses to “The Legacy of Margaret Thatcher

  1. The Callaghan government did far better than it gets credited for. Thatcher was a disaster.

  2. Nailed it!

  3. Have to agree. I was fed up of Sunny Jim and his gang, and, like the naive young idiot I was in 1979, I thought I had done a good thing by voting for her.

    • Me too. I was a Believer in 1979. After a month of stuffing letterboxes for some putrid barrister who called me a “good chap,” I thought the libertarian counter-revolution had begun.

  4. Looking at the loathsome people who have ruled Britain over the past 20 or 30 years, I wish Arthur Scargill had become Prime Minister.

  5. Somehow, I don’t think Rob (see above) could mean that, not quite. Let Rob have been alive when Scargill was strutting his stuff for real and up-close-and-personal, and see what he might have said then instead. I don’t know: perhaps Rob is at least middle-aged or older. If so, he will know what I meant.

    Loathsome as the bastards have been who “ruled” here since Thatcher, I do rather fear that Scargill would have been worse: and if not him himself, then the awful, scary trolls and orcs he’d have sucked into the “ruling thing” in his wake.

    You always have to remember that sort of housekeeping stuff, you see.

  6. But one thing I do know…things are getting worse, and will get worse still. the StatistNazis have, by now in 2013, well and truly got their sharp, infected and smelly teeth into the ankles of everything to do with free institutions. This is not just in the poor old UK, for which we type, but elsewhere. In places like Russia, the corrosion and corruption indeed went so deep, over 75 years, that it’s probably worse, and probably ineradicable.

    If you were a gardener, you’d uproot “Russia” put it through a wood-chipper/grinder that you’d then have to sterlilise afterwards, and burn the chippings in a very very very large excess of pressurised oxygen gas at 1000C++ …You’d probably not even have to do that to North Korea or Cuba: Bordeaux mixture would be fine, as these two are just peripheral fungi. Then, to “do” Russia, you’d need to start again (but not from here.)

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  8. terrrifc stuff thank you, my ex-pat bro missed the whole shaboom, i’m sending him the link .. he’ll be wondering.

  9. Nick diPerna

    I think Mr Gabb is correct in many ways especially about the “co-option of the trade unions to purposes that have done nothing at all to advance working class interests”. If they really cared for the low-paid, they would be calling for a rise in the national minimum wage and the state pension, so everybody would benefit – not just themselves.

    I was born in 1970, but as a traditional working-class lad, I’ve never took much notice of political events outside my control. However, Thatcher created a private army to brutally smash the miners, who in my view, seemed to be a lot more productive than all of the public sector put together and were doing one of the most dangerous jobs in existence. She was a snob.

  10. Nick, what does “seemed to be a lot more productive” actually mean? Sure, miners look dirty and sweaty – that must mean they are very productive indeed! Oh wait, this isn’t the Bronze Age. I have seen many complaints about Thatcher and “the miners”. The assumption throughout seems to be that wherever mining exists, there it should stay. Supply/demand, comparative advantage, relatively depleted resources – none of these things have anything to do with British mining: everything is political. Likewise any event which happens anywhere can be treated as the responsibility of whoever is sitting on top of the pyramid at that moment. Bill Clinton invented all those microchips. Thatcher invented the fax machine? Obama is responsibile for the awful nut who massacred those people at that cinema? etc,. etc,. Just pick anything you like, correlate with the group of managers “in charge” and proceed.

  11. With all due respect, was this written by the same Sean Gabb who has declared he’ll continue voting Tory come hell or high water?

    Well, whatever you may thnk of her, Thatcher was very much the lesser evil of the time. She was less collectivist, less socialist, more pro-market by far than the Labours, and the distinction then was far greater than it is now. So we can presume that even believing the above, Sean would still have voted Thatcher, as he will vote Cameron at the next election. Which makes moaning about the consequences somewhat ridiculous.

    Thatcher got a lot wrong. I myself have said that in many respects England was a freer country under the Attleean dispensation than under the subsequent “neoliberal” one. But she at least created a country where you could go out and buy a telephone instead of having to beg the GPO to come and lend you one at their convenience. And that has to count for something.

    Most of her failures can be recognised as a failure to see the real enemy, and understand the mechanisms driving us towards the society desired by the New Left. Getting personal, I have been blackballed from one website for criticising the Oxford PPE machine, and another for pointing out that in most cases giving money to “charity” is giving money to that enemy. If self-declared hardcore libertarians can’t see the mechanism and so furiously expel those who point it out, I cannot blame Thatcher- not in any case a libertarian, but a radical conservative- for not appreciating it either.

    There was much that Margaret Thatcher, in retrospect, did wrong. But in my view she at least tried, which is more than anyone else in 1979 was prepared to do.

    Anyway, let’s all get ready to go out and vote Tory at the next election, because we hope they just might be slightly less bad than the Labours. You know it makes sense.

  12. I lived in England in 1985, as an American witnessing for the first time a culture I had idealised since childhood. It was not what I expected. England at the time was a totally demoralised country, already thoroughly addicted to government and cradle-to-grave socialism. Any will to fight a slide back into feudalist aristocracy and dependence was absent from the people, except for a radical Prime Minister who was hated by a good deal of the nation. Thatcher may not have succeeded in stopping the rise of corporate-state neo-feudualism, but she stood athwart history and gave it her very best shot. And for a brief shining decade, the Nineties, it appeared to have worked. The level of duplicity and evil of those who will to power is forever underestimated, except perhaps by even the most reactionary of conspiracy theorists. She may not have succeeded, but that makes her effort no less noble.

  13. Would you expand more (for an unknowledgeable U.S. resident) on how she weakened trial by jury and due process protections?

  14. Far too much time is wasted on politics and politicians.
    The English would be better off separating from London and having their own government, obviously.
    An English council of independent candidates for English secession from London is needed.

  15. Well I sincerely enjoyed studying it. This subject offered by you is very effective for good planning, hard work and a great team always make a spotless work…I read your article on and find that you make nice point on the service..

  16. Norbert of Nottingham

    My own view is that she was a bad thing for England.

    Agreed. She was a conservative in the same sense as Tony Blair was a pretty straight guy. Part of the problem was that, like Blair, she just wasn’t very bright. Unlike him, she was a serious figure, not a posturing popinjay ((c) Richard Littlejohn), but if she did less harm than Blair, it was because she had more to destroy before the cultural Marxists could get to work. The traditions she smashed gave him the freedom to destroy the country. Possibly Enoch Powell, advised by Peter Simple, would have steered England away from the rocks if he’d been PM early enough, but I have doubts about even that. Ultimately to comes down to something even you, Mr Gabb, may slowly begin to see the importance of: human biology. Which is to say: race.

    But this could serve as almost all politicians’ epitaphs:

    Politics, as I never tire of saying, is for social and emotional misfits, handicapped folk, those with a grudge. The purpose of politics is to help them overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power. — Auberon Waugh,
    “The Power Urge,” essay in The Spectator (15 December, 1982); reprinted in Another Voice (1986)

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  18. Nick diPerna

    Wasn’t it Thatcher who also promoted the so-called service sector to the detriment of industry – creating jobs chiefly suitable for women and leaving many working-class men marginalised to this day?

    You could argue that she was the ultimate feminist, not that feminists would acknowledge her as such.

  19. Undoubtedly a gigantic political personality, but that is disastrous if the politics and understanding of what she was doing are missing. She constantly got things wrong because she had a startling lack of psychological and even more importantly sociological insight.

    One of her favourite claims was that she had been “badly advised”. Just what you don’t want as PM. What is needed is someone who understands the consequences of what they are doing.

    The effect of her mistakes was to act as a useful idiot in the cause fo liberal internationalism. See my

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  21. It’s probably myopic of me but I just can’t stop myself feeling some affection for Thatcher simply for the mouth-frothing vitriol she elicits from the left.

  22. I can’t helpf feeling some affection for Thatcher because I remember the cess pit chaos she was elected to sort out. And i was only a child. Mind you, at least I was there, which is more than seems to be the case for most of the gurning apes at the “parties”.

    When my aunt in Canada died, among her effects was an old cassette tape which, in the early 70s, we had recorded to send to her. The idea was to save on expensive telephone calls, but we only did the one (turned out to be a lot of effort recording a cassette full of “news”). In amongst the stilted “is it on?” type stuff, my father is heard giving a snapshot of life in Northampton in 1973 or whenever it was, and how “this morning, Florence [my mother] had to get up early to make flasks of tea before the power went off, and then the power cut didn’t happen, so that was a waste of time”. Those power cuts figure prominently in my early memories, perhaps because for a small child they were a little exciting and spooky. By 1978, we had the dead going unburied, rubbish piled in the streets…

    I mean yes, there is lots to complain about with Thatcher. But before we grab a Diamond White and join in a chavish hullabaloo, perhaps we should try to remember just how fucked up the country was.

  23. Calos Fron Spain

    Calos have party, da, da, da,!

  24. Jhon O'Leary.

    Of course I remember Thatcher well living in a Tory Strong hold, firstly the legacy we see today was directly caused by her, the welfare crisis, she was the masternind behind DLA,high pay to the police, and public service. the loss of a third of Britians Industrial output, We remember the death squads unleashed on Irish Civil rights campaigners, and the controversial IS units, still being investigated by the Iirish government, not disclosed to the general public, under secrecy laws. We who were around at the time remember the corruption in British Industry, by directors, many of the cases never comming to court or reaching the nationals, of course we hear much of how she gave working class people the right to buy a house on some run down council estate, but in truth, comming up to retirement many are now faced with second morgages to do major repairs to properties, whilst it is true many people earned hudge amounts of money under thatcher, I confess me included, there were victims who ended up in disgusting poverty, the worst riots Britian had seen in the countries history, covered up by the media, I witnessed one the BBC did not want the public to see. What a great person she was. But please don’t tell SID.

  25. Mr Stibbons

    It’s sounds if there’s something wrong with case, I think the evidence should be looked at under a magnifying glass, an good lawyer should try and the case thrown out on the basis of time limit abuse, I think from my own point, the woodentops have been up to no good particulary on the other charges. I presume she is on bail. Let’s face it the CPC know they have weak case, they are using the case for PC it’s a witch Hunt example because she’s white.

  26. Forthurst – the authorities are now indubitably extracting the bodily fluids. I woinder if they are trying to get Emma West convicted on the assault charges before going on to the political charges?

  27. Mr Harry Price

    Of course what a bizarre situation, i turned onmy TV last night and there were parties everywhere celabrating the death of Marget Thatcher, I don’t ever remember such a situation regarding the death of a former PM, of course the funeral next week, no doubt it’s going to turn into something like the “Dia de Muetos” some people hated her beyond question. No doubt Robert the cooking pots are on the Arga’s. They have some problems with the publicity surrounding Emmas trial, this was not one of those secret affairs, they should be careful public mode is not good at the moment and the warm weather is comming. You know what that could mean. Apparently they are planning more parties nex week.

  28. Pingback: Thatcher: why celebrate? Her regime and her legacy are our own fault! | The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG

  29. “…because her own colleagues had effectively told the Argentine Government to invade the Falkland Islands.”
    Can you please expand on this? References?

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  39. The recent government leaks suggest the funeral is set to cost 10 million,
    not including police overtime. I don’t think it’s justifiable, she was only
    a politicain at the end of the day. Not a God!

  40. I am glad we are not having an inquest, the princess of wales cost 25 million,
    without the funeral costs.

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  44. Reblogged this on Daring to Change and commented:
     Dear Lady Thatcher,

    gutsy woman of valour;

    In international politics,
    With sheer persistence;

    In business, 
    a great leader;

    In patriotism,
    a master heroine

    Nothing’s perfect 
    Your wins are greater than your losses

    RIP History’s iron lady 

    Karen Fu


    1. link to list of condolence messages

    gutsy woman of valour;

    In international politics,
    With sheer persistence;

    In business, 
    a great leader;

    In patriotism,
    a master heroine

    Nothing’s perfect 
    Your wins are greater than your losses

    RIP History’s iron lady 

    Karen Fu


    1. link to list of condolence messages

  45. Battle Maiden, Battle Maiden, you burn in the fire, the flames take your spirit to a land far away, you sword lay’s in it’s scabbarb until another day, your armour dissolved by deed of history so true to say, in battle you
    fought many, they left with dented shields, least not you never be forgotten, as history shall dictate, go now, make your way to the land thereafter and rest your
    weary soul.

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