Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Andrew Marr Praises Margaret Thatcher

Andrew Marr's Modern History of Britain concludes tonight at 9pm on BBC2 with a look at the Thatcher years. According to his article in The Sun this morning, Marr now considers Margaret Thatcher to be his mother...

IT probably calls for a shrink, or a large glass of whisky. But I have finally admitted that Margaret Thatcher is my mother. Not literally, of course. My real mother is sparkier, just as tough, and wouldn’t take kindly to that idea. But politically, Thatcher has made us all her children. Of the prime ministers since the war, she was the one who changed the political weather.

With our privatised, still-powerful economy, our low direct tax rates, our sceptical attitude to Europe, our close relationship with the US and the disappearance of real socialism from our politics, we are still the country she shaped. Even today’s reforms of the public sector by mimicking the market — which seem to be struggling — had their origins in the Thatcher years... That’s why, in the fourth of my films telling the story of modern Britain, I say we are all — rebel or not — the children of Margaret Thatcher. I thought for a long time about that. When she came to power I was an enthusiastic Left-winger. I just couldn’t believe she would survive. And the truth is, she very nearly didn’t.

She was a lucky politician. Without the tax from North Sea Oil she’d have found it hard to get through those first, rocky years. If her Cabinet had been less wet they might have stopped her. If Galtieri’s Argentine forces had been better prepared we might have lost the Falklands war — and she would have been out. If the miners had been led by wily leaders, rather than the deluded Arthur Scargill, she might not have won that victory. Had Labour not been busy tearing itself apart in public she might have found her general elections a little tougher, too. Had the IRA been better informed about which bedroom suite she would be using they would have murdered her in Brighton.

And us? The great shake-out in British industry in the early Eighties was too tough, too drastic. Many companies that went then could still have been with us today. She could be harsh. The poll tax was a disaster. That’s the nature of revolutions. There are always victims, always mistakes. But this is a rich country now. And you can’t eat the fruit while sneering at the farmer.

Welcome to the fan club, Andrew.


Anonymous said...

But this is a rich country now and one which seems unable to afford things it used to.......strange really.

The country is rich but has third-rate education; cannot provide long-term care as the NHS used to; has potholed roads; shortage of school playing fields; poorly equipped armed forces;

Yet the country has pockets of poverty and an estimated 26% inner city populations unemployed; and the kind of obesity characteristic once only the American poor

The notion of this country as rich is one I find dubious probably because i think of Net Worth and most of what passes for affluence in Britain is Credit made realiy available by waves of deregulation

Anonymous said...

Funny how the left was berefit of ideas in the 1970s, and yet at the time there was little focus on what was happening to reshape the political right.

It is a great shame that Mrs Thatcher didn't manage to sort out the BBC. The trouble is that the 'liberal left' still set a media agenda which appears to be dominated by an approach which favours a significant role for 'big government, and remains resolutely anti-capitalist and anti-wealth creation.

Mrs Thatcher is living recommnedation for a good grammar school system.

David Anthony said...

Are you going to be wearing your 'I love Maggie' T-shirt tonight?

A miniature union-jack to wave?

Anonymous said...

"If this, if that": Thatcher picked fights she knew she could win and won KO. Just ask Scargill.

But it wasn't just her. Lawson, Howe, Hurd, Major and others put forward policies that, for example, are only now being talked about in Italy or France.

Marr used to write for The Economist anyway, he's hardly a leftie.

David Anthony said...

I think you've made a freudian slip there, actually it doesnt conclude tonight, it concludes with the Blair years next week.

Actually, no, you were right the first time...it DOES conclude tonight!

Anonymous said...

For once Marr is right.

Anonymous said...

People wont remember how Mrs Thatcher's brand of politics was characterised by candour and a healthy disregard for the press.

When you compare her heart-on-her-sleeve style to that of Blair/Brown, together with her personal courage and strength of character you can see that events, however perilous, were going to go her way.

Whatever moral universe one inhabits, one has to agree that a leader has to have right on their side. You have to have the tacit consent of the general population. Nobody who lived through the late seventies and eighties can argue that weeks of national strikes, stalinist working conditions and tin pot South American countries holding us to ransom was desirable, or could have been eliminated without confrontation.

As Black is black and White is white, Tony Blair has not had right on his side since day 2 of the Labour administration, an administration founded on lies and more lies, an andministration run by ruthless thugs who have forgotten that they are servants of the people.

It is too late for Andrew Marr to do so, but if a few more senior BBC employees stood up to be counted, their might be a chance of saving the moribund and decadent BBC.

The Hitch said...

With our privatised, still-powerful economy, our low direct tax rates, our sceptical attitude to Europe, our close relationship with the US and the disappearance of real socialism from our politics

Hold on have I just imagined the last 10 years?
powerful economy?
Low taxation?
and adios to socialism?

This poisonous Dobby the elf lookalike really is typical new labour , say it as if you believe it and its true.
Does that count as a swear word?

Anonymous said...

A handsome article from Marr. Very impressive. I like his wife a lot, too.

Anonymous said...

Of course we are all her children, but that statement is banal.
The question is whether her governance was wise. Marr puts his finger on her greatest weakness, which was the destruction of British industry through an overvalued exchange resulting from an unwise policy of giving the City of London priority.
This we should rue now, and will do increasingly. For that reason I am not and never will join the Thatcher fan club.
The alternative course is to become like Denmark, the most enlightened country on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Oh Iain, do go out more.

Anonymous said...

I am currently considering changing my Atheist beliefs to include an afterlife just so I can imagine Maggie burning in Hell!

Newmania said...

I am highly suspicious of Andrew Marr , he has been flogging his establishment leftie Liberal credentials for years and I have noticed the way he has repositioned himself even against his real mother the BBC. This ultra privileged Socialist Scot even now is somewhat churlish with his praise. Margaret Thatcher made here won luck with the Falklands and I cannot imagine what sort of leadership could actually have won for the Unions by the time we got to the 80s
What she achieved was despite the consistent opposition of the BC and her memory has been attacked ever since as have policies following on from her thinking .I would appreciate it if Marr would remain in the Liberal establishment teat sucking camp he has always been in . He cannot be trusted he wants it have it all ways .

Sir-C4' said...

"If her Cabinet had been less wet they might have stopped her."

What an odd remark since it was the wets that stopped The Choosen One from going further still with her reforms in the early 1980's

Newmania said...

Hitch .....yes I was about to say that as well my sympatico chum. Marr is talking pure arse , New labour are far far to the Left of what this Lord Haw Haw would have us believe. Euroscpetic ...
Iain did you put this in deliberately in the hope someone would choke on their ball point pen . You would have commited the perfect murder !

Anonymous said...

So what are the reasons for the Tories being out of power for a generation? Why will they never be elected again and don't seem at all to be too concerned about it either?

Marr is reasonably correct in stating the less obvious political landscape, but why is it that Blair is seen as the more trusted to carry it forward than a Tory?

The answer is simple.

Tony Blair has been given a bad press over his 'socialism', or lack of it.

He is a socialist and he's delivered in many eyes. In fact he's set up a fourth victory and yet another fall for the Tories.

Conservatism (green, centre,solar) NO.

Socialism (in any form) YES.

The Hitch said...

Mr Mania
I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am that you didn't misplace the words "arse" and "sympatico" in your 4:02 posting

Anonymous said...

Would that be Andrew "Andy" Marr who used to sell Socialist Organiser in Cambridge marketplacein 1977? So he's joined the ranks of the many ultra-lefties who end up being Tories.How pathetic.He may be rich.Most are far less so since labour came to power.

Anonymous said...

A strange paradox. Margaret Thatcher captured the political agenda, broke the unions and finished off socialism. The 365 economists who predicted disaster were made to look very, very foolish.

But she never captured the intellectual agenda. The BBC, the universities, the literati and a good slice of the MSM still look on her as some sort of aberration.

Of course, the left is incorrigible. For many people on the left the collapse of communism (and the fall of East Germany, whose border guards had shot any man, woman or child who tried to escape) was seen as a matter for sadness and regret.

Newmania said...

Anon-The question is whether her governance was wise. Marr puts his finger on her greatest weakness, which was the destruction of British industry

You are making it up as you go along, British industry (some of it) was uncompetitive and collapsed itself once the stream of tax payers money stopped . It was made that way my years of protection and Union input . This might give us a clue as to why the Public sector is so dreadfully inefficient
"More than 80 per cent of the days lost last year were down to strikes in the public sector"...The rate of union membership amongst public sector workers is much higher than in the private sector, 16.6 per cent compared to 58.8 per cent according to Department of Trade and Industry figures". Source.
Its no surprise that Marr perpetuates the myth that industry was destroyed by Thatcher, he is a Socialist and as such you wonder what he is doing issuing supposedly authoritative BBC conclusions about the progress of history

David Lindsay said...

Her "sceptical attitude to Europe"? When, exactly? When she signed the Single European Act? The "No! No! No!" was to hypothetical questions which ahve never appeared in any draft treaty put before ministers.

And have we really grown richer as a result of the "free" market? On the contrary we have grown poorer. Only a generation ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today.

This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened. But it has indeed happened. And it is still going on.

PJP said...

I love Marr so much more than you can imagine for doing this series.

He covers 1945-1997ish and my History A level exam (next monday) is on British History 1951-1997. Someone upstairs clearly wants me to pass.

Tapestry said...

Now the elites believe the EU Constitution is all but in the bag, they are suddenly praising their old enemies to the rafters.

David Lindsay said...

"Mrs Thatcher is living recommendation for a good grammar school system", says Dr Spyn.

Well, certainly not a state one, Doctor. Hers was, and is, a private grammar school. She sometimes allowed people to draw the inference that she has attended a state grammar school, as part of her never-quite-spoken "I grew up in the flat above a corner shop" act.

Never quite spoken, because totally false. Her father was a very prominent local businessman and and politician, who ran almost every charity or committee for miles around, sent her to a fee-paying school, and then put her through Oxford without a scholarship.

No wonder, then, that (as Education Secretary) she closed so many state grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled, and that (as Prime Minister) she did absolutely nothing to reverse the comprehensivisation so beneficial to the upper middle class not into, but within, which she had married, having been born into it.

Old BE said...

David Lindsay, that is true in relation to housing costs but clothing, food, foreign holidays have all massively fallen in real terms in the last 20 years.

Even in housing, the standard of living has not fallen so much as wealth has been transferred from the young to the old.

Anonymous said...

"Andrew Marr Praises Margaret Thatcher"

Bet his wife's giving him hell. I imagine "Traitor to the Project!" is the least he's going to get away with.

Anonymous said...

There surely are two people/groups who changed the country massively postwar. One is indeed Mrs T, and largely for the better. But he really ought to cover the other: the progressives who committed the greatest act of philistinism in our history - the lefties who buggered up our schools.

Anonymous said...

"But politically, Thatcher has made us all her children."
I'm sorry but this is utter, utter bollocks. One for Pseuds Corner if ever ....

Anonymous said...

British Industry was doing a magnificent job in the 60's and 70's of destroying itself: soviet-subsidised unions bullying stupid bosses (see newspapers, car manufacturers, et al). Thatcher ennabled the British economy to get back on its feet.

Newmania said...

DL - You are being anachronistic Margaret Thatcher came to a realisation about the EU over a long period as did many other people.Do you imagine for a second that we woulds be drifting into becoming a segmented collection of powerless provinces under her guidance. This trick of time is to often used to imply that you might just as well vote for a Party that detests Nationalism on principle , for example the Liberal or Labour Party.

Newmania said...

And have we really grown richer as a result of the "free" market? On the contrary we have grown poorer.

...and that is pure nonsense. This one salary happy household you talk of did they own their house , a car ? Where do they holiday ? What do they eat and what is their life expectancy ? I dread to think what you are suggesting please tell me it isn`t the great boon of planned economy.

Anonymous said...

It is horrifying to behold, but socialism is winning. The toxicity infused into the bloodstream, little by litte, is barely noticed by most people now.

There is a curious helter-skelter feeling to all this; it's like a disconnected dream.

Having seen the inarguable, horrific train crash that the Blair years have been, the Tories picked a Blair clone as a leader. Despite being able to read the Comments sections of the papers, and the blogs, they didn't grasp that people really meant all the poisonous comments they were keying in about Blair and his disastrous dictatorship. Read The Telegraph's Your View today and you will be stunned at the depth of hatred for Blair that is now welling up to the surface.

What this means is, Cameron will not win the next election. With no real Opposition, many people are already clucking and chuntering and settling in to give Brown "a chance". If the Tories had chosen a vote winner, people would go with their instincts about Brown.

The choice of Cameron is so inexplicable and counter-intuitive that it is a bit ... eerie.

Anonymous said...

ou are making it up as you go along, British industry (some of it) was uncompetitive and collapsed itself once the stream of tax payers money stopped

Funny that the main subsidy junkies in Germany have been Daimler-Benz, Siemens - and in USA Boeing, Chrysler, General Dynamics, General Motors, - in Japan and most of Asia you would be surprised which corporates get government aid.

Britain which gives industrial aid on a scale seen in Greece and Portugal has an industrial base similar to Greece and Portugal.

It was funny that Thatcherism ONLY gave economic assistance to foreign companies - Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Fujitsu, Samsung,

In fact Japanese companies used to shop deals around Europe to se which country had the best tax breaks - Mitterand gave Sony land at FF1,00 per square metre with lots of tax breaks

When Wales looked too boring Panasonic and Sony upped and went to Poland and the Czech Republic.

After all this country is an ONshore tax haven according to the IMF letting 112,000 millionaires live here tax-free with a subsidy >£3 billion each year and that is not counting the Private Equity/Hedge Fund guys with their favoured tax bands.

You can get rich in Britain but not by making things. The Treasury is determined to move all manufacturing to China - and that policy has been consistent since the Thatcher years

Seán said...

This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened.

It is a consistent failure of many commentators in the media to assume we all enjoy the affluence they do. John Harris nails it.

Darkersideofbridgetjones said...

I think Sean's hit the nail on the head. There is so much particularly from the Beeb anti-Thatcher sentiment. It's really not on. It's about time they grew up!

Newmania said...

You can get rich in Britain but not by making things. The Treasury is determined to move all manufacturing to China - and that policy has been consistent since the Thatcher years

You don`t imagine this has anything to do with the low cost of Labour the low tax regime and the relatively unregulated business enviroment then ?Funny that, as you say . I `m not sure that we can be comred to protectionist countries centered on their domestic econnomy or Asian low tax countries with such low starting points that they can afford to have an assymetrical trading arrangement..like India say.

The suggestion seems to be that the wage earner should be taxed even nore to distort the economy in the directon of picturesque Manufacturing sinecures . Oh goody can`t wait for that

Anonymous said...

Re David Lindsey's comment, Kesteven and Grantham Grammar School for Girls is still part of the state system as it is run by Lincolnshire County Council. (I crossed checked their website). Many grammar schools charged fees until the passage of the 1944 Education Act, I have still to cross check John Campbell's biography for details of the fees at the time.

Which ever way you look at it Mrs Thatcher won a place at Oxford on merit, was this the case for David Cameron, I wonder? Marrying Denis may have provided financial security but John Campbell's biography highlights patronising attitudes to her progress from undergraduate, to political candidate to MP, to Cabinet Minister. She succeded in making the most of her opportunities, and that is to her credit.

As for the arguement about high sterling values destroying UK industry, remember that the Germans and Japanese had to live with constant revaluations of the Mark and the Yen in the 1960s and 1970s. Their industries were not destroyed by adverse exchange rates.

Newmania said...

..indeed Dr. Spyn I quite agree . Margaret Thatchers father owned a Grocery store , not a chain but a shop. He was a devout Methodist with a fierce sense of public duty which he expressed in his selfless service to the locality. They were not rich and I have no doubt he made sacrifices as he expected his daughter to . David Lindsay’s spiteful inferences are nonsense from start to finish. In a far more stratified society than we are now used to Margaret Thatcher camre from a comfortable but unremarkable family which is much as she presented herself . It was even more politically impossible to create tiers of secondary moderns then , when the Comprehensive system was yet to implode , than it is now . It us impossible and undesirable now.

Anonymous said...

For the record I make things and am at least still getting richish, which is better then not.

My frustration is that my company could grow much bigger then it is and employ 5-20 extra people at least.

But why should I bother to take on the stress of employing people in this country. Just to make a bit more money for Gordon to tax and then spend. While I spend all my time in court for sacking people that are no good at their job.

My advice to anyone stupid enough to start thinking about giving someone something usefull and productive to do with themselves is.

If you thought capitalisation, marketing, design, management, book keeping, making tea, and doing some actual work in your own one man business, were sometimes a pain in the arse?

Wait untill you try employing anyone to do any of it for you.

Only then you will know the true meaning of the word PAIN.

Anonymous said...

She did it with SCOTLAND'S oil
Anybody could have done anything with Scotland's oil .. check out NORWAY

with Thatcher it went against a wall

David Lindsay said...

Newmania asks me, "Do you imagine for a second that we would be drifting into becoming a segmented collection of powerless provinces under her guidance?" We did. That was when it happened.

I see that you are still under the mind-boggling delusion that the Tories are a Eurosceptical party. In fact, their policy of mildly doubting federalism has been exactly the same as Labour's for more than 20 years, and counting. The Tories became mildly (but not very) doubting at just the time when Labour became mildly (but not very) federalist, so they met in the middle, and have stayed there.

As I remember, most Tory MPs voted for Maastricht and had no time whatever for those very few of their colleagues who did not. And who knows how large the Tory majority would have been if they had won in 1997, making it so much easier for the triumphant Major, Clarke, Heseltine and Hurd to join the Euro?

Nor am I convinced that most Tory MPs are Eurosceptics even now: most of them very pointedly never say anything on the matter, no doubt, in at least a good few cases, to avoid falling out with the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, and those papers' readers among their constituency activists. But, in fact, undoubtedly Mail and Telegraph-reading bodies of Tory activists have never actually deselected anyone over Europe except the anti-Maastricht Sir George Gardiner.

Likewise, most Labour MPs also very pointedly never say anything about Europe, no doubt in order to avoid falling out with the Guardian and with its readers in their Constituency Labour Parties. But they are quite mistaken: many Guardian readers (and some Guardian writers) at least have doubts, while most Labour activists and almost all Labour voters are decidedly not from the "aren't gîtes in Burgundy fabulous!" crowd, that being the sum total of the British Europhile "argument" in any party or none.

European integration has only ever been passed on a cross-party basis: first by most of the Tories, by the Liberals, and by some Labour rebels; then by most of the Tories, and by the Liberals; and then by most of the Tories, by almost all the Liberals, and by the majority of Labour MPs (though with a significant minority opposed).

Had the Tories won in 1997, then the Euro would have passed on the votes of most of the Tories, almost all the Liberals, and either a very narrow majority of Labour MPs, or else a significant number of Labour rebels against an instruction to oppose it.

The only thing that stopped the Euro was the election of a Labour Government in general, and of a Labour Government with Gordon Brown (for all his many faults) as Chancellor in particular.

Look at the list of signatories to The Henry Jackson Society, with its classically neoconservative call for a unified European defence capablity under overall American control (the EU has been an American-sponsored project ever since the Forties). You will see the names of Michael Gove, Ed Vaizey, Michael Ancram, David Willetts, David Ruffley, David Trimble, and several people who will become MPs for safe Tory seats next time.

And so one could go on, and on, and on. Thatcher was a federalist (she might not be now, but she should at least admit that she was when in office), and her party is, if not as federalist as ever, still, like Labour, more than federalist enough.

Anonymous said...

There are two reasons I won't be joining that fan club:

The public services in Britain became pants after all that privatisation and/or underinvestment...

...and everybody got a mullet and shoulderpads.

Boo to both I say!

Chris said...

Politically and socially, the 70s and 80s stank. I always have to smile at people now who were youths in the 70s who try to pretend that it was all about hippies (60s, dears - and then only if you could AFFORD to drop out!) and that the 80s were the cause of all ills. Surely better if WE took responsibility for NOW and DID SOMETHING?

Chris said...

NOT Scotland's oil, Braveheart. Up to 50% belongs to England. The maritime boundary was tweaked in the late 1960s by the UK Government, but the English were not consulted and the oil was not a gift to Scotland. If Scotland goes independent, the maritime boundary must be corrected. It currently contravenes international convention. Please stop telling lies, Braveheart. Your warped views are very tiresome.

alexf said...

where of england is there oil? its in the north sea NORTH
94% of the oil is scotlands idiot, and if england hadnt wasted the lot the whole of the uk would have been rich

saor alba