Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Two sides to the coin

Margaret Thatcher died yesterday. On the one hand there are those that will pay tribute to her and on the other, those who will rejoice. There have already been street parties to celebrate her death and it said that champagne had been kept specially for the occasion.  

The truth is that Britain was on its knees when Mrs Thatcher became the first female prime minister. Ted Heath left a legacy of inflation which peaked at 27%, Labour took over and worsened the situation by buying off the unions and again printing money that the country did not have. Things got so bad - in 1976 Britain had to be bailed out by the IMF. The nationalised industries were overmanned and inefficient. The unions held Britain in a stranglehold. One of the worst examples was British Leyland who produced appalling cars and still the workers demanded more.  The company went bust in 1975 only to be bailed out by the government.

Then we had the winter of 1978-9 when the public sector unions made huge demands for pay increases –e.g  lorry drivers demanded 40% and went on strike when told they could only have 5%.  They stopped the supply of oil and so we faced long queues at petrol stations. In the end they got a 20% increase and returned to work. Strikes followed strikes, even the gravediggers in Liverpool joined in. Following the closure of 20 pits putting 20,000 out of work, the miners went on strike; we had a three day working week, power cuts and untold misery to face.

Following a vote of no confidence for the Labour government, a general election was called and Margaret Thatcher swept into power. She stayed in power for 10 years during which time she faced the unions down, denationalised utilities and won the Falklands war.

Thatcher is accused of breaking up communities, putting people out of work and generally showing hatred for the working classes. It is true that many were out of work as a result of de-nationalisation but then they would have been very much out out of work if the country had continued along the path of destruction that Labour was bent on.  Where things went sadly wrong though was when she introduced Poll Tax which Liverpool City Council refused to collect. She may have rescued Britain out of despair but the country paid and still pays a high price for her policies.

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