Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What David Learned From Margaret

I think there are a lot of comparisons to be made between the Thatcher opposition of the 1970s and David Cameron's opposition of today. And it was with this in mind that I was interested to read THIS Guardian article by the late Peter Jenkins (husband of Polly Toynbee) from 25 May 1977. Eight times out of ten during the article, you could replace the name Margaret Thatcher with that of David Cameron. Try it for yourself HERE.

Hattip Stephen Tall.


Tachybaptus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tachybaptus said...

Well, certainly there are a lot of comparisons to be made between the Left's perception of the Thatcher opposition of the 1970s and its perception of David Cameron's opposition of today.

Then, there was a real tiger lying in wait. Socialists were right to be frightened.

Wish I could believe that there is cause for their fear now.

Simon Gardner said...

Now you’ve made me more depressed than I have been for years.

Plato said...

Didn't work for me I'm afraid.

The thought that any of the Shadow Cabinet would be 'scared' of Mr Cameron is most unlikely IMHO.

Mrs Thatcher was one of a kind - love or hate her, she was a firebrand. Mr Cameron seems like a genuinely good bloke and pretty slick when the moment takes him - but as they say 'he's no Margaret Thatcher'.

OT I do wish he would put more fire in his belly - the public detest politicians right now and he needs to decide whose side he is on.

Tim Hedges said...

Mrs Thatcher, and Tony Blair after her, refrained from putting across detailed policies and that was fair enough. Cameron by contrast refuses to put across anything at all, with the exception of Michael Gove's education ideas. Thatcher was a strong positive person. Cameron? Where is the commitment to repatriate powers from Brussels?

Sobers said...

If the parallel holds true, then the Tories will struggle to stay in for more than a single term, unless they can persuade some 3rd rate dictator to invade some small part of what's left of the empire.

Obsidian said...

Given the state of Labour, it wouldn't matter who was in charge of the Tories and you could do the same.

Despite Cameron's shift to a more Blairesque mode, the Tories are winning votes on the back of a shattered, corrupt and increasingly sad and desperate Labour party rather than off their own merit.

I will likely vote Tory, but it will be out of a desire to see the back of Labour rather than any love of the Conservatives. And I suspect the majority of votes they gain will be the same.

The Tories will be left with a smashed-up, debt-ridden economy, and I have zero faith that the Cameroons will in any way take the hard-headed measures required to rectify that. I fear we're in for a couple of decades worth of increasingly bitter and acrimonious elections, filled with the political classes filling their bank accounts and pockets whilst the public get increasingly shafted.

Cato said...

Obsidian has it absolutely bang on. I couldn't agree more with what he/she said.

Richard Abbot said...

All very interesting, but he ain't no Thatcher. MT was a (welcome) aberration in the history of the Tory Party. DC is a return to type, with much more in common with Macmillan and Heath. And that spells trouble. wv - static. i rest my case!

Arnie Saccnuson said...

The prospect of David Cameron in Number 10 is concentrating many minds. He is reported to be prey to what are called "Thatcher-like tendencies". Some of his colleagues are plainly scared of him: even Ken Clarkes equable flesh has been seen to quiver. His rages are terrible to behold, quite in contrast to the high-pitched billing and cooing of his Etonian public demeanor.

Does that work?

Dan Hannan

Yak40 said...

The shocking thing is that the Con lead is so small, it ought to be of landslide proportions by now.

Instead we even hear talk of a Brown revival.


Conand said...

Soz, but I think some of you are missing the point.

The comparison for me is: Thatcher led a revolution within the party while in opposition, Cameron is doing this too.

Blair and Kinnock (to a limited extent) noticed how effective Thatcher's approach was and copied it.

You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs first.

Robert said...

To paraphrase a line from the eighties 'if Cameron is the answer it's abloody stupid question'.

Having exhausted all other possibilities the Conservative Party was persuaded to risk Cameron as leader.

It hasn't worked for me. I will not be voting for them at the next elections although I want to see the back of Labour.

We have to start again with new parties, not more of the same from the politically bankrupt two (or three).

Get out the tumbrils and get out of the EU!

Conand said...

@ Yak40

The Brown revival just died:


Increased Conservative lead post-G20.

Conand said...

@ Robert

Well, it is working for 42% of voters. I'm reasonably happy about that.

Oscar Miller said...

David Cameron is no Maggie - and I say that approvingly. She was divisive - he is inclusive. She was frightening - he is endearing. She was Marmite - he is marmalade. Cameron will be a strong leader for the whole country and a unifying party leader. For all her strengths, Maggie left a legacy of factionalism in the party and in the country. Cameron will be a true statesman, capable of reaching beyond mean-spirited political tribalism which is now the defining feature of the Labour party.

Simon said...

The big difference is that Mrs Thatcher had no intention of handing over soverignty of our country lock stock and barrel to Brussels without any democratic mandate from the electorate. Unlike EU Dave who shows every intention of doing just that and making himself largely irrelevant into the bargain. Mind you, Brown and Clegg are just as bad so it doesn't really make much difference who you vote for out of the main three parties.

Thatsnews said...

Good idea, Iain. It worked very well. I see what you mean.

Arnie Saccnuson said...

As Simon said 3:31 PM

The essence of Thatcher: National Sovereignty and as I pointed out earlier "Decisive Nature".

I dont think there are parallels apart from Labour are going to loose and he is the most likely replacement

I certainly don't feel the buzz I felt at 19 nor the mood of the country, apart from the Chaos but she had something quite different and credible to say in a language I could understand and at the moment that is Dan Hannan.

Andrew said...

From the article "Shall we have televised debates?"

More than thirty years later and we're still waiting.

It's high time our broadcasters, including the state broadcaster (the Biased Broadcasting Corporation) announced that they will hold televised question time style debates between the two prospective PMs (i.e. omitting Cleggover since he and the LimpDums have no chance of being in charge at No. 10), with an empty chair for any candidate who doesn't wish to bother the people in such a democratic forum.

Time for a popular campaign Iain?

Yak40 said...

"Shall we have televised debates?"

Don't bother, they're a farce, a debate is what they are not.

acadman said...

Thatcher didnt lay out detailed policies but she did give a general impression or theme of what she would do in government. If you dont do that in opposition, then when you do get into power you'll lack the moral authority to push through unpopular and painful changes.

Thats what worries me about Call Me Dave - some of his policies on schools etc are detailed and radical but I have yet to hear any kind of overarching theme from him at all. He appears not to have one, and thats smacks to me of Old Etonian type One Nation Toryism when the country needs radicalism.

Arnie Saccnuson said...

acadman you nailed it

Obsidian said...


I'm not seeing a revolution. I'm seeing a more media-friendly, "on message" kind of spin - which is what we had with New Labour.

I've heard enough garbage from the chronically moronic imbeciles who've swallowed Labours well-spun, massaged metrics of success BS. Cameron doesn't seem to be offering anything different.

If there was a revolution going on, they'd be leading rather than following the zeitgeist - but they're not. In every department the Tories are responding to events, not driving them.

Expenses, public spending... They change policy and direction with the news rather than sinking their teeth into something the voters can run with.

A genuine revolution would've seen Labour in single digits by now, reduced to nothing more than its core supporters squabbling over what wrong.

Conand said...

@ Obsidian

Well I profoundly disagree. I'm in the party and I'm one of the people carrying out the revolution.

'A genuine revolution would've seen Labour in single digits by now'

That would be nice. It is a bit of a big ask though.

'the Tories are responding to events, not driving them.'

Not true. I think we've been pretty bold in every policy area. I won't go through it all here. There are whole websites dedicated to our Policies and debates.

Obsidian said...


You may be right, but let me ask you this - if someone like me, with an interest in politics, doesn't see it, what hope is there for getting across to the general voting public?

Being inside the party, you're probably seeing lots of exciting change, I can tell you now, from the outside we're seeing quite a lot of the same-old, same-old.

If you're not getting the message across, it's not much use.

Conand said...

I don't agree that we aren't getting the message across. I agree we could do a helluva lot better. That's not the same as not getting it across at all though.

acadman said...

The major worry is this: its not true that its doom and gloom out there for everyone. At the moment things are very, very good indeed for many people in public sector jobs. On average higher wages than the private sector and much more job security, they can get stupendously good deals on big ticket items like houses and cars which are rapidly deflating in price. Job security also means they can get the best credit terms. Its boom time for them, and, even those saying in polls now they will vote Conservative will have every reason to vote FOR Labour come polling day when people really start to focus on their own self-interest.

I talk a lot to Conservative voters and there is simply no great enthusiasm for Cameron or the Tories out there. People are desperate for a change, but they don't see the Bullington Boys as being all that passionate about delivering it. Can you really see Cameron or Osborne nailing their 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and saying 'Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God!'? Thought not.

In summary, a great deal of our lead in the polls is soft, and Labour knows that. (There is an article on Labour List from someon who attneded Iains debate with Peter Hitchens who came away very elated when she realised there is no Tory big idea out there.)

Remember also that the Tories have to win by a clear 8% to get a simple majority, and I think a lot of potential vote may be too apathetic to turn out come the day.

Conand said...

@ acadman

Very interesting points.

Your first point about Public Sector Workers: Some of the Labour mantra (in the right climate and to the right audience) is about attacking self-interest. It will interesting to see them go to what they consider to be part of their clientele and say, 'You should vote for us, out of self interest (nudge, nudge, wink , wink)'
On your second point: There is a big idea, it's just not one that a socialist's ears can actually take in: People should feel responsible for society, government should serve people and society.
As opposed to Lab/Lib: People should serve government, a bigoted government should play with society as an ideological construct.

Mark said...

A poignant reminder of the days when The Guardian had people who could write.

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Jimmy said...

"The prospect of Mr Cameron in Number 10 is concentrating many minds. He is reported to be prey to what are called "Maggie-like tendencies". Some of his colleagues are plainly scared of him: even Mr Ken Clarke's equable flesh has been seen to quiver. His rages are terrible to behold, quite in contrast to the high-pitched billing and cooing of his public demeanour."

The parallels are uncanny. They could be twins.