Saturday, 2 May 2009

'The Un- blessed Margaret Thatcher'

The media I see, have been making a big thing about the thirtieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher assuming power, as if we need reminding of the nightmare that was Thatcherism: My own memory is eclipsed by the caricature of her and the entire cabinet along with opposition members of the House of Commons; Neal Kinnock, the two David's, Steel and Owen, and of course not forgetting the Royal Family as portrayed by that superb television programme 'Spitting Images'. But joking aside, the election of Thatcher in 1979 and her Conservative Party was no weird, temporary aberration, a blip, an anomaly. It was the starting point for were the gap between rich and poor started to widen and would as it seems never narrow again. Increasing inequality was to define the Thatcher years from 1979 to 1990. but more than that, her way of seeing the world become the establishment view, continues today under New Labour. What was at first a right-wing minority view captured the centre ground of politics. In Thatcher's world, equality was antithetical and therefor must die - and it did.

During her decade in power, the real incomes of the poorest fifth of the population grew by less than 0.5 per cent a year, while those of the richest 20 per cent rose by almost 4 per cent. In the words of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the magnitude of the rise in inequality under her Conservative Government was 'unparalleled both historically and compared with the changes taking place at the same time in most other developed countries'.

Margaret Thatcher administered a poisonous medicine on behalf of Capitalism that created a less fair UK, her surgery was a systematic reduction in Trade Unionism, reducing the bargaining power of employers; cuts in income tax to provide increasing rewards for incremental effort; reductions in benefits to create stronger incentives to force workers to take any kind of job; privatization of the public sector and significant pay rises for those who run them. A lot of people were seriously hurt along the way and are still paying the price as it led to this present economic crisis!

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