IF A lie is repeated long enough, it will become accepted by the less intellectually-endowed sections of the populace. We see this in the denial of the Holocaust. Some really awful people with a sick agenda know that their twisted beliefs are destroyed by accepting the truth of historic facts. So to further their immoral thinking, they will deny these events ever happened and were faked as part of some global conspiracy. The vindictively superstitious portions of our population will prefer the lie, especially after its repetition.
Here in the UK we are experiencing a similar phenomenon over the premiership of Margaret Thatcher, which started 40 years ago last month. Rather than a conspiracy to lie over this, numerous people who are separately working towards the same goal realise that it is vital that they distort the Thatcher years. Those vulnerable to their propaganda are people too young to have lived through them, or to have lived through the years prior to Mrs Thatcher’s premiership when this country was known as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ whose government ran out of money and could not borrow any more from its usual creditors.
There are two main lies. The first is that Mrs Thatcher destroyed the ‘post-war consensus’. The second is that her policies devastated communities, particularly in the North of England. Both are false. Here I discuss the first lie.
The post-war consensus was a loose economic and political alliance between the government, unions, business and Whitehall. It was based on a state-driven direction of the economy, with policy inputs from these parties to the exclusion of everyone else. Individuals in this corporatist environment were meant to be members of one of these groups. If employees, they were expected to be unionised and to follow the union line. The closed shop meant that a worker’s expulsion from the union for offending the activists meant dismissal by the management. It was meant to be a British version of the synthesis of capital and labour without the gulags. Corporate rights were seen as more important than the individual, and small businesses had major barriers to entry that larger businesses could sail over. The tax system punished success. One consequence was the creation of the ‘tax exile’, whereby a highly-rewarded individual had to leave the country to enjoy the fruits of their labours. Tax exiles were usually from the world of entertainment. People whose job tied them to this country had no choice but to see the state appropriate an increasing chunk of their income. For unearned income, such as the return on investments, the tax rate could be as high as 98 per cent. Rather than a minimum wage, there was a maximum wage. People with useful portable skills left the country for a better life, a phenomenon called the ‘brain drain’. It is small wonder that while the first business computer was invented here in the UK, the US managed to corner the global market. America’s IBM won business worldwide while Britain’s ICL languished under the lash of socialistic governance and ceased to exist, even as a subsidiary of Fujitsu, years ago.
This cosy relationship between corporatist elements was not disrupted by the free-market economics of Thatcherism in the 1980s. The trades unions had started to chafe in the economic straitjacket more than a decade prior to Mrs Thatcher entering Downing Street. While the unions’ leadership might have been perfectly happy with their access to power, their members were less pleased. Wildcat strikes called by shop stewards abounded. The union leaders themselves were relatively powerless, being pulled between ‘solidarity’ with their striking comrades and the national responsibility implied by their access to power. The problem of industrial action destroying what was left of the UK’s competitiveness was recognised in the 1960s. Harold Wilson’s Labour government tried to act by publishing a White Paper called ‘In Place of Strife’, but the Labour Party would not accept it and the strife in the Cabinet stalled any progress. Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath’s approach, the setting up of an Industrial Relations Court, was a disaster. It was boycotted by the unions, who were perfectly happy for their members to assume the mantle of martyrdom when they were imprisoned for breaching the new offences. Consensus there was not. Instead there were power cuts and a three-day week to conserve energy. Margaret Thatcher was just an education minister at this time, and years away from power. But it was clear that the country needed a change of direction.
What Margaret Thatcher did was to reform the British economy by asserting individual rights over the corporate, and also the government’s right to govern in the national interest rather than in the interest of numerous non-governmental groupings. The era of union leaders enjoying beer and sandwiches in the Cabinet Room was ended. But the post-war consensus had been destroyed years earlier by the actions of the organisations they represented. It is just that no one admitted to this. All Margaret Thatcher did was to take action based on the objective reality of the situation which was that a state-shackled economy needed liberation from the chaos that was causing the country to be ungovernable amidst accelerating economic collapse. All that is happening now is that the people who could not oppose her then are rewriting history now to brainwash anyone born after 1990. What is of concern is that they are not being sufficiently challenged over this big lie.
I will cover the big lie about devastated communities tomorrow.