Saturday, May 15, 2010

What Would Maggie Have Done?

Imagine if in 1987, instead of a Tory landslide, there had been a hung parliament. What would have happened? The conventional wisdom is that Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was a conviction politician and unable to compromise. That's the appearance she gave and very well it served her too. But in reality she was a pragmatist, especially when it came to important negotiations. Her firm stance in advance of many EU negotiations meant that she exacted many more concessions than she might otherwise have done, but in the end she knew she had to do a deal.

I have little doubt that in 1987 she would have sought a coalition withe SDP/Liberal Alliance if the parliamentary arithmetic had meant that was the only way to continue in government. What I am les sure about is her ability to have pulled it off. Certainly David Owen would have been up for it, but I doubt whether David Steel could have persuaded his Liberal Party, even if he had wanted to.

If Margaret Thatcher had been Conservative Party leader at the 2010 election I have little doubt she would have done exactly what David Cameron did.

24 comments:

Ean Craigie said...

But she would never have lost the election

Richard Manns said...

To answer the question: "what would Maggie do?" (WWMD; perhaps I should get a T-shirt) one need only ask what the alternative was:

Neil Kinnock.

Go figure.

In any case, the Alliance wasn't yet fully integrated, so the Tories might have been able to split them had Steel said no.

Q said...

Had Margaret Thatcher been leader of the Conservative Party in 2010, there would not have been a hung parliament.

The fact that the Conservatives can only poll 36% when faced with the most incompetent and unpopular government in living memory against a background of economic collapse, an illegal invasion of Iraq and a war in Afghanistan that is swifting proving to be this country's Vietnam says a very great deal about the leadership failures of David Cameron and his allies.

The unwillingness of the Cameroons to stand for anything, their endless oscillations on policy, their fuzzy language, their apparent inability to recognise that it is no longer 1997 and their conviction that electability means being more Blair than Blair have all served to invoke the contempt of the electorate.

wild said...

I feel as though the birds are singing for the first time in 13 years.

The putrid corpse of New Labour lies unmourned in its grave, yet another monument to the greed and hatred of the Left.

ollie said...

Cameron has to take a huge amount of the blame for not winning a majority. The campaign was a shallow, incoherent mess. Indeed, a half decent Labour leader would have delivered tham a fourth term.

Michael Howard's simple campagin messgaes from 2005 would have won Cameron a landslide.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Cameron has stood up and nailed some colours firmly to the mast SINCE the election...Just a great shame he didnt do it BEFORE..

You always knew where you stood with Maggie thats why a coalition would never have been required in her day..

Nevertheless I like the idea of a new vigour in politics and hope that it can last. Time will tell

John said...

Good post Iain. The more Cameron is linked to Thatch the better...and the sooner Labour will be returned to office. Keep up the good work!

neil craig said...

And if pigs had wings & a body chemistry capable of producing enough energy, or the Earth's gravity much less & the air much thicker & containing more oxygen, they would fly.

I'm not sure such speculation is informative. If they could do that they wouldn't be pigs.

wild said...

Q,

New Labour (in that power as an end in itself way that is the essence of New Labour) did their best to put electoral obstacles in the way of a Conservative government. They failed. Get over it. Just accept that you were strategically outclassed by Osbourne, and try (if you can) to recover your soul.

Jimmy said...

Of course the libs would have demanded a new PM as they did this time. Then what?

Moriarty said...

@Ollie.

He does have a majority.

Moriarty said...

@Q

Quite right. If Cameron had followed the advice of people like yourself he might not have proved so unlucky as to find himself Prime Minister with a majority of 80. He might even have been sufficiently successful as to be an anonymous poster on an internet blog. You tell him mate!!

Moriarty said...

I think that some of the posters on here must believe that Cameron's electoral strategy would have been more successful had he taken a harder Thatcherite line in the right-wing redoubt of Scotland.

Useless, the lot of you.

Moriarty said...

@jimmy.

You've invented a new version of the inductive fallacy. Normally it involves invalidly inferring the future from the past. In your hands it involves invalidly inferring the past from the present. Congratulations. Michael Dummettb would be proud of you.

norman said...

1979 was not 2010. 1979- Labour with Liberals was limping day to day. Huge anger as unions ruled the country then in the aftermath of the Winter of Discontent, refuse bags piled up in the street, hospital gates manned by unions and patients were not allowed into A and E, the dead were not buried etc.. 2010: Yes Blair and Brown let the country down. But Labour had 3 successive election successes, unions flexing their muscles but not like 1979.

1979 was ripe for a conservative return with Maggie's brand of condservatism. If on wonders what Maggie's conserv atism would have done in 2010, one has only to look at the pathetic state of UKIP with no MPs and Farage had to resort to the aerial stunt which went badly wrong.

waddell said...

Or to paraphrase your final line:
"If Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister at the 2010 election I have little doubt she would have done exactly what Gordon Brown did."

waddell said...

Q: Do you think Margaret Thatcher would have won in 2001 or 2005? Winning an election is about more than simply what you stand for. It's about what the country can be persuaded to vote for.

David Skelton said...

An obsession with what Margaret Thatcher would have said and done is one of the reasons Conservatives had so long in the wilderness.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

She would not have waffled so much and been so vague. The public would have known exactly what she stood for. I suspect it would have meant a majority. The British people like a leader with a spine who knows what he/she wants. That is why they liked Blair.

deborah.balli said...

She would have done what David Cameron has, put country first before party politics!

Moriarty said...

@Andrew Dodge

If Blair had a spine he would not have allowed himself to be bullied out of office by the sociopath next door. He'd have sacked him in 2001.

Salmondnet said...

A pragmatist would not have launched an expedition to retake the Falklands. Unlike Dave, Margaret Thatcher believed that there are some things more important than office.

David Lindsay said...

Once again, sitting alongside or behind a Conservative Prime Minister, there are between 50 and 60 MPs, including around 20 Ministers with half a dozen of them in the Cabinet, who are not really Tories but Liberals, some of them decidedly left-wing Liberals, almost all of them Eurofederalists, and most of them from highly privileged backgrounds. Those MPs are now technically Lib Dems rather than Conservatives. But that, even more than ever, is now a distinction without a difference.

As ordinarily since the Conservative Party created itself by absorbing successive waves of Liberal refugees, there are at least as many of them as there are MPs in any sense on the Right, and considerably more of the former than of the latter in government, with plenty of the former and next to none of the latter around the Cabinet table. It was ever thus. Or, at any rate, it was usually thus. Including whenever the Conservative Party has been in government, with no sort of exception in the 1980s.

Nicholas said...

Here is what Thatcher herself said:

"...a hung Parliament would hang the future of our country...Just look at some countries that have had coalition governments. You may have read about Belgium in the papers in the last few weeks. It took them 100 days to form a new government. What would have happened if anything vital had come up during that time? Did it help their main decisions? Did it help their deficit to come down? Not a bit of it. They've got one of the worst deficits in Europe. Not surprising with a coalition government. No-one has got the guts to stand up and say no to public expenditure. So they get a big deficit. Does continuous coalition government help them to stand up against the tyrant? No. When we wanted to buy munitions they wouldn't sell them to us. So, do not go for coalitions—ever."

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=108294

There you have it: no coalitions *ever*.