Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Legacy: Margaret Thatcher

  1. Confronting the Unions. They were literally subverting parliamentary democracy by refusing to allow elected governments they didn't like to function. After bringing down the Heath government they had shown that they were intent on making Britain ungovernable.
  2. Winning the Falklands War. There is some justified criticism of her government for lowering the defences of the islands prior to the invasion but the resolute manner in which she conducted the war was a huge success. It was also done with great competence. The Argentinian junta collapsed after this and most of Latin America democratised from this point onwards.
  3. Privatising public utilities. It used to take months or even weeks to have a phone line put in, the modern world would not be possible in a pre-Thatcher Britain.
  4. Defending Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was a horrible little man who sneered at her, but when the Iranian Ayatollah's put a bounty on his head for his supposed blasphemy her government responded forcefully by offering him protection and breaking off relations with Iran. An awful lot of politicians of the time tried to justify Muslim anger.
  5. Confronting Saddam Hussain. She stiffened George Bush resolve after Saddam invaded Kuwait.
  6. Big Bang. Unpopular now but still the right thing to do.
  7. Cutting marginal tax rates. 
  8. Ensuring a peaceful but positive resolution to the Cold War. She was not the main figure in this but she certainly played a role.
  9. Humiliating terrorists- her performance after the Brighton Bomb was simply masterful.
  10. Winning the rebate from the EU. Refusing to bow to the Hunger Strikers was also impressive.
  11. Inspiring British Euroscepticism- her Bruges speech was the inspiration for the new wave of Tory Eurosceptics who helped ensure Britain didn't join the Euro.
  12. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act. I hadn't considered how revolutionary this was before today but it was.
  13. Speaking out about the genocidal policies of Slobodan Milosevic. She was out of office by then but it was welcome nonetheless.
  14.  Being the first elected woman leader of a major Western country. This aspect has been overplayed a bit today but it is still a big achievement.
  15. Agreeing the peaceful transfer of Hong Kong to China. This was about the best deal that could have been achieved.
  16. A very good environmental record- acting fast to recognise that action was needed to be taken to protect the Ozone layer for example. Her views on global warming were also correct and prescient. 
  17. Creating soft scoop ice cream. This was before she entered politics but a legacy in itself.
  18. Keeping the lunatics out of power. In the 1980s the alternative to Thatcher was Foot and Kinnock.
  19.  Building a strong alliance with the USA that was neither subservient- when they disagreed such as during the Falklands she stood up to them- nor confrontational.
  20. Reforming employment laws.
  21. Enraging the Guardian even 23 years after leaving office.
Although there were a  handful of things she got wrong especially in her final years in office such as the poll tax and joining the ERM, she was a far better leader that we have any right to expect.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Defending Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was a horrible little man who sneered at her, but when the Iranian Ayatollah's put a bounty on his head for his supposed blasphemy her government responded forcefully by offering him protection and breaking off relations with Iran. An awful lot of politicians of the time tried to justify Muslim anger."
She should have gone a lot further and banned all muslim immigration.

Henry Crun said...

It was Margaret Thatcher that gave the SAS the "Go" order during the Iranian Embassy siege.

Anonymous said...

The poll tax was a fair tax

Yaffle said...

OTOH...
http://ukcommentators.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/we-shall-not-look-upon-her-like-again.html

Ross said...

Yaffle- yeah I saw Laban's post.

Anon- It was fairer than the rates, but it was an obvious political disaster.

Henry- that's a good one for the list.