The return of Thatcherism?


For anyone who has ever read Simon Jenkins excellent Thatcher and Sons, the mistakes of Margaret Thatcher and her offspring are clear: the centralisation of power being the most pernicious. Her weaknesses have been the focus of many a negative summation of her time in office. Now Thatcher is back in vogue, at least among those on the right.

Under the illusions of a credit boom, most were content to ignore those decrying the prodigal spending as the Labour Party as it became increasingly confortable with power, even believing spin that Brown was a prudent Chancellor. However, now even the BBC is reporting the death rattle of this government’s reputation for financial competency. On Monday the thirty-year anniversary of Thatcher's rise to power will come around, and so many – including Simon Heffer – are starting to feel nostalgia for the iron lady. As he wrote in the Telegraph yesterday::

The collectivist nightmare was over. A Britain of endless strikes, food subsidies, third-rate products and jobbery was, suddenly, consigned to history. If there has been a better time to be 19 than in 1979, I wait to be told.

In the same paper, Irwin Stelzer wrote about the fact that John Smith’s ideology is resurgent in the party, the belief in the government “to shape the economy, to allocate resources in a way that would produce results far superior to what "the market" could accomplish." This he argues can be seen in fact that the car industry is to be shored up by taxpayer subsidies and in the government directing what it believes to be "green winners".

For Conservatives fearful of more time in the wilderness, coming to power on a radical agenda for reform appears a risky gamble. After all nobody thought Thatcher was going to be as radical as she was. However, risky as it might be, a platform of radical policies would be the right thing for Britain. Those that have dyed their hearts blue, red or yellow come what may, might have determined that power over policy is the priority, but lest it be forgotten that wrapped in the spin of the newness, the Labour Party did much the same thing and we all now know how that turned out.