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Thatcher. What I saw of the carnage as I wandered in my University Years.

I am writing this as a counter to Conservative statements about how Thatcher saved the UK economy.  In fairness I want to present my observations of what Thatcher was really like.  I am 37 years old, so grew up in the era ( error ) of Thatcher.  I may be an old punk, but I went to Trinity and am pretty sharp on my history.

Thatcher and her chums.

- Thatcher was friends with Pol Pot of Cambodia.  Pol Pot was responsible for the 'death by neglect' of nearly 2 million Cambodians.  The Khmer Rouge were not the best.

- Thatcher was friends with General Pinochet.  Pinochet had a habit of making people disappear into dungeons without trial. They never came out of those dungeons again.  1000's went missing, simply because of their politics.

- Thatcher created Saddam Hussein.  The man who chose to murder the Kurds ( who are very grateful for us removing him by the way ) using poison gas & nerve agents ( both older but still reliable forms of Weapons of Mass Destruction ).

- Suharto of Indonesia was also a good friend.  And yet another brutal mass-murdering despot.  An estimated ~800,000 people died under him last I read.

- Nelson Mandela was seen as a terrorist, and she protected Apartheid South Africa from UN sanctions.  I think that in itself says it all.

This is how she helped win the Cold War.  How she put the 'great' back into Britain.  The Communists were stopped from expanding by making sure people like Pinochet, Saddam, & Suharto had better British-made equipment.  Are you feeling great yet?

The Economy.

It's been claimed that Thatcher saved the UK economy from disaster.  Sadly, well, what I saw of other towns outside of Croydon & the Surrey Stokebroker belt was very much a disaster.  A disaster definitely happened out there in South Wales & Birmingham & Sheffield and....

When Thatcher took on the unions even I agree they had gone too far.  The 3-day week is a guaranteed way to damage an economy.  But what did she do?  New laws, obviously.  And also a shift from home produced coal to coal produced abroad.  So that our energy supply could never be cut off again.  Make sense?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  That's pretty good so far.  And then I saw what was left of the Coal Mining communities.  They were my friends at Uni for example.

She closed the last of the pits down sure ( coal was declining in use after all as Nuclear was the new kiddie on the block ), but she did not replace them with anything.  The term used was 'managed decline'.  Basically you remove the jobs from an area and replace them with the odd drib & drab if that.  Some towns made it to 40% unemployment due to this, and are still to recover today ( 25 years on ).  They're still shells of what they once were.  Does that sound like a recovery?  Or a disaster?  Just imagine being unemployed for 20 years.  The Irish, The Welsh, those Northern types with their strange accents and wonderful Curry & chips.  All of them were left to die.  With no exception.  The only crowd protected were those with links to either Services, new boom Industries like computing, & those Bankers.  Hence why Croydon & Surrey did ok during the Thatcher years.  A rather deceptive illusion I fell for as a child as I pottered home from Trinity in my tie.

As Thatcher Privatised ( sold our Public Services to Private providers on the propaganda that they'd be run better ) she also did a major Banking reform called Big Bang.  This all happened around 1986, and is supposed to be when our economy healed.  In plain english all Bing Bang was was a statement that everyone could go to the Banking Casino and come home richer.  Shareholding was supposedly the new cool, and no-one could lose in the Banking Casino.  She also majorly deregulated The Banks to an almost 'anything goes' level, and thus ushered in the age of Casino Banking & excessive lending that has now pretty much destroyed our economy.  Including the dreaded Bonus Culture that created a new breed of millionaires that did increase our Tax take for a bit.  As did the new Bankers moving here from the US & Switzerland for example.  So that little boost did happen.  But so did the 3 million unemployed created when so many entire towns were abandoned.

So we, the people, did not become richer.  A few did sure ( those tied to The Banks & Privatisations ).  But your average worker was stuck with average wages, and in the North & West you were stuck with Jobseekers.  I'm not seeing any success so far, are you?  3 million unemployed is not recovery.  At best it was treading water as Thatcher rebalanced our economy towards Banking & Services, and away from the more traditional mix we had.

So, did it work?  Well, obviously not.  New Labour kept the Banks on a low regulation footing, following Thatcher's lead, and we're now £1.4trillion under and will be in debt for the next ~40 years.  Whilst those Bankers are still raking it in as if nothing happened.  The same ones that have funded The Torys since Thatcher's day ( & Big Bang ).

Unemployment only reduced under New Labour.  And that is because New Labour created jobs.  Some could be argued to be non-jobs sure ( as in they were not required ) but is that really a problem?

A non-job is still a job.  Someone is working, learning, & keeping their skills alive.  They can move on from that job with a CV that has some life in it.   If you are long-term unemployed your CV is dead.  There's nothing there.  How on earth can you get a job with nothing on your CV?  So Thatcher opted for leaving you with a dead CV, where-as New Labour created jobs.  Both cost a fortune, but what is more humane?  Years of unemployment followed by a massive Govt-funded re-education program ( as the long-term unemployed have no money to spend so need to be bailed out by The Govt ), or creating jobs that weren't perfect but were at least something?  You'll find the 'non-job' path is much more humane, and about as expensive as the 'unemployment & re-education' one.  Suicide rates & incidents of substance abuse and Mental Illness did increase through those harsh Thatcher years.  As those left to rot slowly but surely rotted.  Many are on sickness now due to the pressure of being unemployed for so long.  They just broke, as the stress was too much.

But Thatcher gave us low Taxes didn't she?  That must be good.

No, it's not good.  Your Taxes pay for your schools & NHS.  And for the unemployment benefits and State-provided education out there.  Under Thatcher all of those were massively underfunded, and as such were in a very declined & damaged way by the time Labour got in in 1997.  Our vital services ( that educate your kids and keep you alive ) required huge levels of repairs.  So no, low Taxes did not work.  You pay Taxes for a reason after all.  In Croydon we had Building Schools for the Future given to us by New Labour. £350m we were supposed to get to repair our schools.  Under these new Thatcherite Torys Gavin Barwell MP has only secured about 20% of that.  The Torys kept the rest.  So we only see about £60m, not £350m.  And, once again, peoples taxes are being lowered on Income Tax.  The cycle is repeating already.

Thatcher, due to her lack of investment in The North & West, created what we now describe as mass-unemployment.  So if you're worried about the benefits bill you might want to look at job creation.  Something Thatcher just didn't bother with.  She left it to the market to provide, and that market did not provide.

Thatcher believed in a Corporate model.  Where major corporations around the world ran our Public Services, instead of The Council or the local Community.  This led to Gas Bills going through the roof, our Care Homes being a national embarrassment, your phone-line being so old you can't run a modern computer game properly on it, why our trains cost a fortune for the same old rubbish, and why all those British Aeropsace profits are now paying for rich people's holidays rather than our NHS.  It was all part of Big Bang, and how Shareholders were the key to the future.

Shareholders only invest once.  Then they drain money for the rest of the companies' life.  Bank loans can be paid off, but Shareholders can't.  Thatcher either did not understand this, or wilfully neglected it.  But then apparently no-one can lose in the Banking Casino.

Thatcher & her policies were a disaster.  Her brutality to her own people as well as millions of foreigners was, well, I'm still ashamed to call her British now.  Does this sound like the glorious success so many Right Wing politicans and businessmen want you to believe?

Remember that come election-time.

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