Posted by: secretperson | June 23, 2008

The Last Refuge of a Desperate Lefty – Blame Thatcher

Now while Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is undoubtably huge, it always strikes me as amazing how much left wing types can blame on her reign. Everything wrong with the world normally, apart from the stuff caused by Bush.

Now Gordon Brown, clearly trying to appear to a Labour core vote, has spoken out against hate-figure Thatcher, blaming the legacy of ‘Thatcher’s Children’ for the lack of social mobility in today’s Britain.

We will all remember when he took office as prime minister, Brown invited Thatcher round to number 10 and heaped her with praise, even going so far as to compare himself to her as a ‘conviction politician’. As that claim for Brown looks increasingly thin, so does his praise of Thatcher. Under pressure with social mobility as low as in 1997 and child poverty targets far out of reach, Brown has resorted to the last refuge of a desperate lefty and blamed his faliure on Thatcher.

Brown, both as a powerful chancellor and now prime minister, as been central to a New Labour project that has ruled for 11 years. This is the same time Thatcher was in power, and surely the time to sort out the negative effects of her legacy was at the start of this period, not now.

Thatcher inherited an economy in a bad way, dealt with this but there were many casualties along the way, particularly in former mining communities. As a result of Thatcherite de-regulation and global economic conditions the 1990s (post ERM) and 2000s until recently were a time of unprecedented growth, especially in the financial sector, which Brown was quite happy to take advantage of.

Some may blame that de-regulation for current credit crunch problems, they may even be right, but Brown who did nothing to change that is as guilty as those who originally introduced it. On unemployment, he mentioned figures of 3 million in the 80s, ignoring New Labour’s reclassification, with rising incapacity benefit numbers matching falls in unemployment. As with social mobility, New Labour have had 11 years to do something.

That something involved throwing money at all problems, supported by stealth taxes, reforms were blocked by Brown, an old statist who was happy to see that money spent on managers, targets and paper work, in the belief that if Whitehall told policeman, teachers and doctors what to do that which was decreed would happen. Much of the money was needed but the central control has stifled the natural talents of many on the front line of our public services.

Mr Brown also tried to encourage a work ethic and education ethic amongst Britons, presumably aimed at the benefit classes. Aspiration is dead, but cannot be revived by speeches alone. Nor by paying families to ‘do the right thing’ by turning up for health checks etc. All that will happen is that central government takes more of all people’s money in taxes. This is then given back to the ‘deserving’ poor (means tested) as tax credits, or used to bribe people to act as government decides, no doubt backed up by council snoopers armed with parenting orders and ASBOs.

Social mobility, aspiration for one’s children, all are only possible when people, not the state are responsible for their own lives. If you give people more responsibility, some will use it wisely some will not. But infantilising the population, making them dependent in the state, will not encourage them to work for themselves or their children.

Gordon Brown with this speech shows two deeply held instincts. One, that central dictat is the best way to improve people, and two, that Thatcher is to blame for all societies ills. The old lefty in Brown is revealed but a confused one, who has whole-heartedly adopted Tory tactics when times were good, and now struggles on lost as to what will retain his party power (for that of course is most important).

When Margaret Thatcher spoke of ‘no such thing as society’ she was saying to people, don’t blame society for all your problems, you, your family, you can do something for yourself. Brown should be saying don’t look to the state for help or blame it for your problems, you can do something for yourself. This November the first children born after the fall of Thatcher will be able to vote. I say to Gordon Brown, there is no such thing as Thatcher, you must take responsibility and solve your own problems.



  1. I agree with you. Thatcher – and indeed the 1980s – have been scapegoated and demonised for too long. The BBC even rewrote the 1970s to make them seem nicer than the 80s – pouring in 1960s and 1980s pop culture in the process! It’s time current day people accepted responsibility for the current day.

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