Thatcher’s real legacy

Fliss Goldsmith made a few interesting points in her opnion piece. Consequent governments have followed her dogma more or less faithfully, indeed we are now in the 34th. year of dogma. When the time comes not many will mourn the passing of Blair the warmonger and Bush’s glovepuppet. The old lady with dementia wasn’t that addled when she planned and executed the destruction of our steel, chemical, textile and mining industries in favour of the service economy upon which this country now relies.

May I now turn to Thatcher, the truth and the legend. The definition of legend is a ‘group of stories handed down whose truth has not been ascertained’. So to set it straight, here are some of the historical facts about Thatcher’s time in office.

Firstly, the economy. In 1979 inflation was 10% and falling. By 1980,under her stewardship it had risen to 22%. To eliminate inflation she, Reagan, her friend the Chilean dictator General Pinochet and others embarked on a monetary experiment that caused a deep recession here and abroad - and resulted in the destruction of our manufacturing base. Large companies took their businesses abroad and according to Sir Ian Gilmour, North Sea oil was used to pay for unemployment, not to boost the economy.

Unemployment figures were altered 31 times. Using the original calculation, by 1988 there was 4.75 million people out of work, but these figures were massaged down to 2.8 million. Thatcher’s government encouraged people to claim incapacity benefit, DLA, - anything but claim unemployment benefit, (What a different story it is today - anyone claiming any of the above is vilified as a scrounger).

On the international scene, she fully supported the South African apartheid regime, branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and described the ANC as armed insurgents. As part of her programme of cuts she ordered the recall of our only warship from the south Atlantic, which Argentina took as a sign to reclaim the Malvenas.

Many say that she stood up for women, but as the then Health Secretary Edwina Currie pressed Thatcher to introduce breast-screening. Thatcher refused.

Standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street she misquoted St. Francis of Assissi, ( in fact it was a French monk in 1916) and promised to bring the country together through harmony and understanding. Even her staunchest allies would have to agree that she did the exact opposite.

In the end she was brought down by her own tory backbenchers and grandees. They could see that she had so divided the nation that she was now a liability, and when it came to protecting their seats or following her into losing the next election - it was a no-brainer, she had to go.

Let’s hope that before people next put pen to paper about Thatcher, they remember the facts, not the propaganda or the legend.

John Knight


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