State funeral for Thatcher

Relax, she isn’t dead yet although the Iron Lady may be rusting slightly at the seams. The Mail’s exclusive that on her death, she will enter the pantheon of British heroes in company with Churchill, Gladstone, Wellington and Nelson will attract approval and anger in equal measure – plus I guess quite a lot of unease throughout the establishment. The Mail’s line, Palace fears there might not be enough troops to line streets of London is I think, an unconscious irony.

The creation of Thatcher as icon gathered pace when Gordon Brown welcomed her to Downing St during his short-lived honeymoon last September.

The iconclasm began much earlier, five years ago, when a theatre producer decapitated her statue

It was since repaired and installed in the member’s lobby at the entrance to the Commons, amid complaints that it was too big.

A state funeral will be deemed appropriate for the first woman Prime Minister.
But in death as in life, Lady Thatcher is fated to remain a divisive – if definitive – figure.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • Garibaldy

    Cruel to get people’s hopes up Brian.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    I knew that I hadn’t heard any fireworks. There are not many I wish ill of, but I just cannot contain myself over this individual. I’ll stop there.

  • steve

    the sooner the better says I

  • Nicholas

    Hating Thatcher is one of the few things that unites unionists and nationalists. 😉

  • A state funeral for Baroness Thatcher is just typical of our age of spin and exaggeration.

    And I say this as no hater of the “Iron Lady” but just a student of what she did.

    By any cool analysis she is greatly overrated – what was so limited, and controversial that her own party got rid of her when there was no organized opposition to her in the country – unlike that happened to Churchill, Gladstone, and Wellington.

    She slavishly followed Ronald Reagan and his neocons, especially in covert operations, particularly the assassination of Sweden’s Olof Palme – what would have led to the nuclear incineration of us all if it had not been for the spying for the Soviets by the Agency’s Rick Ames, the Bureau’s Robert Hanssen, Jonathan Pollard et al.

    She backed the Americans’ Star Wars research so much and so deceptively that many British scientists involved apparently took their own lives when they discovered how they had been hoodwicked by Downing Street.

    Then, despite all the hoopla, she settled for a negotiated settlment with the Provisionals after the blowback on the cull on The Rock despite all her statements to the contrary, and the expectations of her followers, particulary when they still assassinated Ian Gow.

    And there is much more about her dubious quality as a leader.

    If she is given a state funeral, it just shows that feminism has become an article of faith when it comes to giving rewards, and honoring the dead in the U. K.

  • POL

    Bet theres a big turnout, just to be sure the harlots dead.

    They should also direct her procession through a few mining villages just to gauge the reaction.

  • lorraine

    that was a cruel headline. for the briefest of moments i experienced a fraction of the euphoria which yet lies ahead of me. i don’t speak from hatred, only honesty: i will celebrate the death of thatcher for the evil she inflicted upon us all.

  • topdeckomnibus

    I think the former Kent miners generally feel that the one thing they cannot forgive Thatcher and the Police for is teaching them to hate.

    It is a curse.

    And I still think one day it will come home to roost.

    I can look back on the early 80s now and smile at strangling bailliffs and beating up the Kent Police whop came round trying to support them in the aptly named “Laws of Distress”. Losing the home under repossession (like quarter of a million other families.

    I can also remember from the mid 80s when the laughter started. When we played race the bailliff and all became Thatcherites. Getting iffy mortgaes and turning over privatized utilities for new central heating installations etc and selling up making a profit anmd telling the privatized utility take me to county court and add it to Maggie’s list …

    And we had a right laugh agreeing with her politics.

    Now then. We need unemployment because unemployment graphs are antiphase to inflation. So we must register unemployed for England !!

    But on the tother hand the country needed entrepreneurs. Go getters. Geters on the bike and find work.

    So to meet both Maggies needs for the country obviously we needed to sign on the dole and work at the same time. For England using Thatcherite principles of course.

    How much cheaper it would have been for the UK purse to have kept the pits open.

    If the gypsies can have a cris and sentence someone. Then so could we. And we found Thatcher guilty and fined her to be recovered by any means necessary from the public purse.

    My former communist pit buddy. He really got miffied in 84 and quit MENSA because they would not publish his letter in the High IQ peoples magazine. (Pointing out high IQ things like only 7% of the experts in deep mined coal economics in the world agreed with Thatcher’s position)

    Of course he is master of two masonic lodges now. How many buy to let properties ? And when did he last do a productive days work for the economy ? Well that would be 1983 then a hewing of the coal.

    Thank Maggie for showing us the light. Only fools and horses work. get on yer bike and get to entrepreneurship not forgetting to sign on and draw benefits on the way. There is no such thing as society.

    Where will they be burying her I feel in the mood for a dance.

  • rabelais

    I thought she was dead for a minute. I’d even gone into the garden shed to retrieve the wooden stake and garlic I’d been keeping for just this an ocassion.

  • joeCanuck

    Isn’t the milk snatcher just a harmless old dear now?

  • ulsterfan

    She did what she had to do.
    If Thatcher had not been around some one else would have had to modernise the country.
    Can you imagine the mess Kinnock might have made.
    He could not even put forward a creditable opposition ,
    She worked well with Reagan and the pair of them undermined the Soviets so much it was only a matter of time and another shove to bring the Iron Curtain down.
    When her death occurs lets wait and see what the rest of the world really thinks and not just a handful of home grown political opponents

  • Comrade Stalin

    The IRA attempted to murder her and her cabinet, and the result was capitulation in the form of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I can’t understand why unionists would come on here and call her the iron lady. She bent over as soon as she tasted the violence for herself.


    My father told me a story about the time he went to a Trade Union Conference in England in the mid 1980’s. It was about 1985 after the Brighton bomb and just after the Miners Strike. He said the English and Welsh Trade Unionists kept bemoaning the fact that the IRA had NOT succeeded in taking her out at Brighton AND he said that the depths of their hatred towards her would have matched anything Republicans displayed. This was working class British communities whose sons had also joined the Army. That was how much she was despised. Her brand of ‘Greed Is Good’ politics where the individual took responsibility for themselves and only the strong deserved to survive resulted in vast economic and social wastelands on mainland Britain. The country North of Watford was allowed to sink into unemployment, misery and despair. The Falklands War was a Godsend for her and she was returned to power in 1983 on a wave of patriotic Britannia emotion. The poor, the weak, the old and ordinary workers were considered acceptable casualties in Thatcherism’s greater plan. Alan Bleasedale’s ‘Boys From The Blackstuff’ was a masterpiece commentary on her policies and their obscene results. She ensured that Britain turned into a greedy, cynical, selfish oasis which resulted in sky high criminality and the total breakdown of whatever morals and family life Britain had in the late 1970’s. We are reaping it’s evil dividends today in 2008. This is her legacy.

  • Mark McGregor

    Get over it folks. The new boss is the same as the old boss and wasting any emotion on a has-been is pointless.

  • ulsterfan

    Her reforms laid the foundations for Britain becoming the fourth largest economy in the world.
    When she came to power Britain was the laughing stock of Europe but when she left the tables were turned and she could see dozens of countries throughout Europe and further afield copying her policies.

  • Eddie

    Thatcher was never a Conservative; she was a Thatcherite. A cult controlled a party. Something similar is the case hereabouts.

  • John

    ‘Get over it folks. The new boss is the same as the old boss and wasting any emotion on a has-been is pointless’.

    Agreed, the right won not only the battles but also the war. Time to reorganise and start again.


    It was a pyrrhic victory John. Ultimately the right did win but I am convinced that ordinary Joe Soap is starting to wise up and realise just what these clowns are doing to us AND our families. The politicians, economists, banks, business leaders and City Traders have told us for decades that there MUST be by-products of unemployment, poverty, misery & social breakdown so that the country prospers. In reality these rotten, immoral, greedy bastards have fed us a diet of bullshit so that they can multiply their billion dollar profits & dividends, control the ordinary citizen AND boast their wealth by spending £10000 on a bottle of wine in their fancy restaurants. This false oil crisis at the minute is a case in point. The West is sitting on vast oil reserves but because the right wing Neo Cons in the USA & City of London big business funds politics in Britain sky high energy prices are being foisted on us. It is time that ordinary people woke up and started to think on their feet. We are being taken for stupid gullible fools and no wonder as we seem to swallow any old crap. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘She bent over….’


  • Dave

    Lurig, any progress that society has made is due to the enterprise of the ‘right.’ They’re the class who created your jobs – you know those things that you’re complaining that there aren’t enough of? That’s right, those things. So, if you want more jobs, then you need more business people to create them and – shock horror and all manner of astonishment and indignation – that means that you need a stronger ‘right’ not a weaker one.

    This mentality that others are responsible for your success (or lack of) is what Thatcher was referring to when she said that there is no such thing as society. She was referring to a culture of dependency that transfers personal responsibility onto ‘society’ – what she meant was that there is no mythical entity called society that can carry the burden of this displacement: there are only other individuals who pay their taxes and are being asked by those live off the Nannystate to carry this extra burden, so this burden isn’t transferred onto a political entity – it is transferred directly onto the backs of hardworking people by those who are either unable or unwilling to provide for their own needs. They have a sense of entitlement without any sense of responsibility.

    She is a lot ‘softer’ than her image. A true right-winger would have dismantled the welfare state that that seek to ease the burden it places on workers by seeking to cajole the feckless into accepting their social responsibilities.

  • Dave

    “…dismantled the welfare state [b]rather than[/b] that seek to…”

  • Garibaldy

    She tried her level best, but was limited by what was politically possible. But continue to live in the dream world where she is really a friend to the welfare stae. What should we do with those unable to provide for their own needs?

    Oh, and all those state companies using natural resources like the oil off Scotland and public companies and public housing that had been developed by the taxpayer, that she gave away for buttons, how were they the product of the right?

    Thatcher’s vision was radical and backward-looking at the same time. In an age of globalisation and multinationals, she put her faith in small businesses. At the same time, her destroying large parts of the economic and social infrastructure of Britain to ease things for the City facilitated those same conglomerates.

  • Dave

    Small business accounts for 40% of the UK’s GDP; over half of its total workforce, and generates over trillion pounds in annual turnover. They account for 85% of new jobs in the private sector, and 50% f all jobs created by expansion. In addition, they play an important role in the UK’s economy in providing new ideas, products, services, etc. Oak trees from small acorns grow, and all that.


    she stood only for oppresion, internment,collusion,and any other deed the brits could think of to destroy the Irish. She stood behind her butchers apron and watched 10 brave Irishmen die. Straight to hell you should go

  • nineteensixtyseven

    The bloated financial sector that she helped create really isn’t doing us much good these days… Not to mention the consequences of the social damage her policies wrought on working-class communities. Giving her a state funeral is ridiculous.

  • Cillian

    I wonder how history would be different if she had been in killed in the Brighton Bomb

  • 0b101010

    If state funeral exist, Prime Ministers should receive them as a matter of course. I don’t believe they should exist, but that’s another argument.

  • Like Admiral Horthy-Margaret Thatcher will go down in history.

  • willis

    The best analysis I read of Thatcher is that she inherited a country populated by people like her father and left it full of people like her son.

    Will the boy Mark be allowed into the country for the funeral and will he need an armed guard in case he is kidnapped to face trial for attempting to overthrow a government?

  • POL

    Will the boy Mark be allowed into the country for the funeral and will he need an armed guard in case he is kidnapped to face trial for attempting to overthrow a government?
    Posted by willis on Jul 14, 2008 @ 08:59 AM

    He will probably get lost trying to get back to england.

  • cynic

    Yeah ….she was so anti Irish that she

    * initiated behind the scenes talks with PIRA

    * offered a deal to end the Hunger Strike that was rejected by the Republican leadership leading to the deaths of at least 4 of the Hunger Strikers for electoral motives before they then accepted the deal

    * brought in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and began to instill a sense of realism in the Prods

    In Britain she also had an immense impact on the UK economy laying the foundations for 20 years of economic growth – a benefit that has been squandered by Labour.

    So when the time comes dance all you like on the grave. She will be remembered when all the rest are long forgotten.

  • Garibaldy


    Did I imagine the recession in the early 1990s that sprang directly from her and Lawson’s policies?

  • Harry Flashman

    What a bunch of mean spirited, hate filled, narrow minded wee bigots this thread has produced!

    You don’t like Thatcher? Fine, her record was far from unblemished but the well off comfortable society everyone now enjoys in the UK today (and Ireland if it comes to that) was due to the very necessary long overdue reforms of a sclerotic British economy that was on the point of collapse in 1979. One can only shudder with undisguised horror at the thought of where Britain might be today had Michael Foot won the 1983 general election.

    Thatcher also can take credit for the reason the Troubles are over, it’s simple; we’re too rich now to bother with that stuff. We all own our own homes now and once ghastly housing estates like Creggan are now populated by home owners who bought their houses at knock down prices from the hated Tory government.

    You don’t burn buses outside your garden when your Da has just laid a new front lawn and you don’t hijack lorries that might be bringing your Ma’s new PVC windows.

    Thatcher changed British society. Maybe some people have misty eyed false memory syndrome for the truly grim nature of society in the 1970’s where the only job on offer was going down the same hole in the ground that your father and grandfather went down to hoke out coal from two miles beneath the earth’s surface or else join the army to sit in drafty barracks guarding the Rhine against the Red Army. Curiously however I’ll lay a bet that if they opened open the coal mines and steel mills again there wouldn’t be a rush of applicants from the employees currently working in air conditioned call centres, shopping malls and technology parks that we see today.

    I’ve never actually met a Thatcher hater who was disappointed their own sons didn’t get a chance to work in coal mines. They weren’t called “pits” for nothing you know.

  • jer

    Well she contributed more to the cause of Scottish independence than many other people so thats one thing she should be remembered for although she may not like it. Indeed were she to move on to a hotter retirement spot just before a UK general election then she would be worth a few percentage points for the SNP and probably to labour as well.
    BTW is there any reason for folks starting to talk about this now? Is their grapevine news that the she is unwell and a date is due or simply recognition that stuff like this needs to be planned ahead.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with cynic, I can’t see how she could be regarded as a resolute ally of the unionists. The matter of the hunger strike and how the IRA leadership manipulated it for their own purposes is well understood; she took a stiff line, but the deaths had been avoided had the IRA ordered their men to come off the strike. Subsequently, she stabbed unionism in the back with the Anglo-Irish Agreement and stuck to it despite the tactics adopted by unionism in it’s aftermath. As cynic said, she initiated the backchannel with the IRA and established the “talks about talks” which led to the Brooke talks in 1991/92, which (with just a touch more enthusiasm from the SDLP) might have led to a stable powersharing arrangement.

    I am no Thatcherite. However, the destruction of the UK manufacturing sector was inevitable, due to decades of failure to modernize and rejuvenate the sector; but a soft landing could have been put in place rather than the shock tactics which were eventually used. The privatization of oil, gas and water were not necessary and I can’t see that they’ve delivered any benefit to consumers, although the privatization of British Telecom has been very successful. I disagree with what others said; I believe that, given the chance, she would have privatized the NHS and eliminated the welfare state if she’d been able to get away with it.

  • west belfast

    If its a state funeral does that mean we get a day off? How good would that be, the ole bitch would be dead and we get a day off to celebrate.

    Its hard to work out where the biggest party would be – The Felons? The Rangers SC? The Working mens club in the North of England and Wales? South Africa? Argentina?

  • Harry Flashman

    “she would have privatized the NHS”

    A pity she didn’t, then we might actually have nice, bright, new, clean hospitals whose primary purpose is to look after the sick rather than the filthy disease factories that kill tens of thousands of patients every year (can you imagine the howls of outrage that would emanate from the Guardian and the BBC if Tesco killed as many of its customers?) and which are run for the benefit of the millions of massively overpaid and under worked fully unionised, feather bedded, index linked pension sucking public sector workers that we have today.

    Maggie ye bottled out of the one truly necessary reform darlin’.

  • If you blur your eyes a wee bit, doesn’t the beheaded statue of her look just a little bit like an enormous latex dildo?

  • cynic

    Sorry Horseman, check with your Doctor. I think the does of your pills is wrong.

  • cynic


    I think it actually started earlier than that. Yes it was a recession but given the state of the the economy when she took over that correction was inevitable and squeezed out a lot of old industries and were already dead on their feet and kept afloat by subsidies. There was a huge social cost in this but it would have happened anyway – they just werent competitive and were dragging everything down.

    Arguably where she failed most was in not doing enough to redress the impact of this but many of her detractors simply still hanker after the good old days of coal, steel and shipbuilding and blame her for their loss.

    But on Ireland, the Iron Lady is very useful.

    Sinn Fein need someone to blame things on despite the fact that her Government saw them as the vehicle for a future resolution of the troubles and actively encouraged their growth.

    She also gave the DUP a real political shot in the arm in the mid 80’s when Ulster Said No!……….

    So, in many ways poor Maggie was the initiator of todays Grand Alliance at Stormont, but she will never get the credit. After all, without Bogey Men (or women) where would we be?

  • Garibaldy

    Surely that recession was due to a collapse in the housing market? I’m not entirely sure how that related to the removal of the traditional industries.

  • Joe

    I’d imagine they’ll have to bury her at sea, because anywhere on dry land will need a full-time armed guard to stop the tens of millions – myself included – who would cheerfully piss on her grave before she’s cold.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Are you talking about MRSA ? The UK has half of the mortality rate for MRSA compared with the USA, and around 2000 deaths as opposed to 17000 deaths (both in 2005). This is despite the fact that healthcare in the USA is between 3 and 5 times more expensive than it is here.

    A friend of mine in the USA, who has worked all of her life and has never claimed welfare, has liver problems, which she can’t get diagnosed properly because she isn’t insured. The doctors’ solution, which is all they can do in the circumstances, is to wait for it to get worse so that they can identify it. I can’t be convinced that this is a better way to do things. If she was over here, she’d be on the waiting list to get the tests done and the problems diagnosed.

  • Dave

    “Did I imagine the recession in the early 1990s that sprang directly from her and Lawson’s policies?”

    Actually, that ‘sprang’ from misguided pro-EU policies, which was corrected when the UK withdrew from the EU’s ERM. After the UK regain sovereignty there in 1992 it resulted in an economic boom – which is why the EM was dubbed the “Eternal Recession Machine.” The UK is still too EU-focussed, with 60% of all its exports going to that slow-growing region when the real economic growth in is the China/Asia direction. The UK is still looking the wrong way due to its membership of the EU.

  • Dave

    Typo: …which is why the EU’s ERM was dubbed the “Eternal Recession Machine.”

  • Prionsa Eoghan


    A Thatcherite as well as a Majorite……………..Tooooooooooooo much!;¬)

    Ok the bBritish economy was in need of reform, she took a hatchet to it instead of a snipper. She was saved from doing a u-turn by two things. Scottish oil and the Falklands. These allowed her to barge on with her failed policies and ramrod them through at the expense of millions, even those in the south eventually suffered from the boom and bust. She was also lucky with her enemies according to Andrew Marr, harsh but probably true. Scargill was perhaps not the man to take her on and win, and Kinnock was just too nice.

    She was guilty of allowing a member of her Parliament to die just for the sake of it, only to gradually u-turn shortly thereafter on these simple and doable rights. She was indeed the architect of the Scottish Parliament as someone inferred earlier. So good can come from evil.

    It is no surprise to me that some people still worship a person like this, sure there is a cult of Stalin in the Russia of today.

  • Garibaldy

    Well the ERM provided a useful excuse for the Tories, but I don’t think that is really what happened. I think it had more to do with an unsustainable property bubble caused by rampant speculation. Sounds familiar.

  • Garibaldy


    Please don’t insult Stalin in that manner, by comparing him to Maggie.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Ach that bit was for Harry Gari, he struggles to lay a glove on me these days so I thought I’d give him the equivalent of a free hit. I’m sure he’ll have a field day.

  • paul kielty

    She deserves a state funeral, why not?

    Also, glad to see her statue at westminister repaired and replaced. I base this on the fact that oliver cromwell also has a statue at westminister.

    Although she probably still sees herself as some modern day female, boadicea-cromwell type incarnation, there is one major flaw in her thinking: Cromwell at least had the balls to fight and massacare his enemies by taking the field himself. Unlike thatcher, who, along with others, re-armed and re-directed extreme right wing death squads to do her dirty work.

    Will she ever get her day in (HAGUE) court?

  • Harry Flashman

    Was the site down earlier?

    Anyone who wishes to know what British life was like prior to Maggie Thatcher they can find out very easily.

    Just go up to Glasgow East whose dreary life stunting environment is largely due to being ruled by a one party Old Labour administration. When you’re up there throw away your mobile phone and ask the Post Office to send you a landline phone but tell them not to actually deliver it for three months. Disconnect your broadband internet, do not subscribe to cable tv, restrict yourself to watching the two BBC channels and ITV.

    Then get a job in a coalyard where you can lug bags of coal for eight hours a day, ask the boss to give an extra fifteen percent of your hard earned wages to the government too while you’re at it. Tell your son to drop out of school at 16 as demeaning manual labour is all he can expect in life and if you talk nicely to the union boss at the coal yard he might give him a start there.

    You won’t of course own your own home because you won’t get a mortgage so you can either rent some hovel from a private landlord or apply to the council. When they get around to processing your application you might get some damp council flat but don’t dare think of improving it yourself, no way that’s the council’s job and who knows some day they might actually get around to sending out a worker who might do some repairs.

    Every so often it will be necessary to not buy things, unimportant things like sugar, or bread, or newspapers or petrol because the dockers, or bakers, or tanker drivers, or printers are on strike for months on end. For the real taste of pre Thatcher Britain restrict your work to three days a week and go to bed by candle light to discover the joys of life in a country where the National Union of Mineworkers decrees economic policy rather than the democratically elected government.

    You want to buy a British manufactured car? No problem be sure it’s one of those built by the permanently striking workers of Longbridge or Linwood, nice and rusty with electrics that don’t work, doors that don’t open and windows that don’t close. Don’t worry about spare parts, there are none; the blokes that should make them are out on strike over a dispute about the rights of night shift workers to sleep while on the job (I’m not making this up).

    Got some time off? It’ll be a week by the British seaside then, you certainly won’t be getting a cheap flight to Riga or Prague because there are no cheap flights and these places are still Stalinist run shiteholes. Even if you did go abroad you’d only be allowed by the government to take five pounds with you. Go to a football match? Well you can do that, you’ll be crammed onto terraces where some bloke who isn’t pissing on your back is having a pitched battle with the opposing fans, hopefully you won’t be crushed against the anti-hooligan wire fences.

    See what you missed growing up in Thatcher’s Britain? The bitch took all that away from you.

  • Dave

    It’s a waste of time, Harry. The worker’s create the wealth, and the capitalist class just steal it from them, forcing them to live in penury. As Gerry Adams said to Michael McDowell during a debate on economics on RTE, “The people create the wealth.” Gerry Adams retreated back across the border to howls of derision for the South, but the voting punter’s love that stuff up North where they are dependent on the Welfare State and see attacks on it as being an attack on their ‘livelihood.’ That’s why Thatcher is their perfect hate figure. It doesn’t occur to them that Sinn Fein policies have not created any jobs, but then economic policies are irrelevant when you believe in entitlement.

  • Comrade Stalin


    A Thatcherite as well as a Majorite……………..Tooooooooooooo much!;¬)

    I’m really neither, I try to be objective. But New Labour seems to stoop to a new low every day to the point where it’s easy to forget how miserable life was when the Tories were in power. However, I’m a full-on Liberal Democrat, and have been for years.

    Ok the bBritish economy was in need of reform, she took a hatchet to it instead of a snipper.

    I agree, the shock tactics were not necessary. While I believe that the government should not underpin failing industries, I think that state intervention should be an option for governments in order to solve temporary cashflow problems and get around minor issues in otherwise sound businesses, like the one that happened at the De Lorean plant here which could have been successful had it not been swatted down by a Prime Minister who (coincidentally) sat on the board of one of DeL’s major competitors.

    She was saved from doing a u-turn by two things. Scottish oil and the Falklands. These allowed her to barge on with her failed policies and ramrod them through at the expense of millions, even those in the south eventually suffered from the boom and bust. She was also lucky with her enemies according to Andrew Marr, harsh but probably true. Scargill was perhaps not the man to take her on and win, and Kinnock was just too nice.

    Scargill picked the wrong fight and the left split.

    The huge, union-dominated and vastly inefficient industries had to modernize or die. In the end Thatcher killed them off rather than help them modernize, which I don’t think was necessary, but we’ll never know whether or not they would have been up to the challenge.

    The question I always have is this. How come British car manufacturing firms, like Rover, could produce nothing but crap, whereas Japanese manufacturers such as Nissan and Honda have large, well-run plants in the UK, which by all accounts turn out high-quality and well engineered goods ? The Honda plant builds cars that are sold in the US as well as the current Civic here in the UK, and the Nissan plant builds the popular Micra. The conclusion I tend to arrive at is that British workers can succeed and be among the best in the world. It’s the management who suck, and we need the Japanese to show us how it’s done. Of course, both the management and the workers paid the price when the old nationalized heavy industries were swept away.

    She was guilty of allowing a member of her Parliament to die just for the sake of it,

    She was/is a cold, heartless old hag, but don’t you think the IRA army council share an equal burden of guilt here ?

    only to gradually u-turn shortly thereafter on these simple and doable rights. She was indeed the architect of the Scottish Parliament as someone inferred earlier. So good can come from evil.

    She was the architect of Blairism and the modern “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” politics. Amusingly, with Cameron, it’s going full circle. She was the last nail in the coffin for Old Labour. Although, I’d have loved to have seen how we would have done had John Smith had his chance.

    It is no surprise to me that some people still worship a person like this, sure there is a cult of Stalin in the Russia of today.

    Exactly, people are always nostalgic about the “good old days” which, by my recollection, where none too good. The Conservative Party just could not get that “feelgood factor” on the go when they were in power. I don’t believe it was their economic policy, which was essentially unchanged under New Labour, but instead because working and middle classes felt oppressed when they were in power, and just couldn’t work up a positive feeling about anything. I don’t mean oppressed as in beaten off the streets, but oppressed as in constantly having the feeling of an axe swinging over them. I think this is as much of the reason for the 10 years of good economic stability as anything else.

  • Animus

    I am no fan of Thatcher, and in face, I will probably say a little cheer when she finally pops it, but I do think it’s a little distasteful to discuss her funeral when she’s still very much with us.

  • Prionsa Eoghan


    Quite a good piece from you there. Not nice of me to say it, but perhaps John Smith dying was a good thing for Scotland in the long run. I wouldn’t envisage us being on the cusp of independence with him still here or his legacy.

  • Harry Flashman

    “The question I always have is this. How come British car manufacturing firms, like Rover, could produce nothing but crap, whereas Japanese manufacturers such as Nissan and Honda have large, well-run plants in the UK, which by all accounts turn out high-quality and well engineered goods ? The Honda plant builds cars that are sold in the US as well as the current Civic here in the UK, and the Nissan plant builds the popular Micra. The conclusion I tend to arrive at is that British workers can succeed and be among the best in the world. It’s the management who suck”

    Not for a second will I deny that British management – of mainly government owned businesses it must be remembered – was for the most part dreadful, indeed Maggie agreed with you that’s why she hated the old school network of duffers that were running the economy and instead favoured new aggressive blood like Michael Edwardes at Leyland and Bob MacGregor at British Steel and the National Coal Board.

    But aren’t you forgetting the elephant in the corner? Let me give you a wee reminder, Red Robbo? The unions wrecked the British manufacturing industry with their endless ‘demarcation disputes’, ‘work to rules’, ‘go slows’ (did anyone notice the difference?) etc.

    Maggie, like you, favoured the Japanese model of business, Nissan and Honda are positively thatcherite in how they run their companies, they insisted on only one union per plant, Maggie supported this, the unions bitterly resisted it.

    There’s enough blame to go around for the demise of British manufacturing but to ignore the devastation caused by the neanderthal trades union movement is to ignore 90% of the issue.

  • Garibaldy

    90% of the issue. So how big a proportion were factors like cheaper wages and materials abroad, often in economies directed by less than democratic governments in the far east, a lack of investment in modern equipment, a deliberate decision to weaken the basis of the labour movement by Thatcher, Tebbit and co, and other international factors? All less than 10%? All the unions’ fault? Am I convinced? I think not.

  • Harry Flashman

    You know Gari the more you post the more you prove Thatcher was correct.

    First you talk of the marvellously run Japanese car factories that Maggie actively sought to bring to the UK but which were resisted tooth and nail by the British unions.

    Then you mention how British workers faced competition from cheaper workers in Asia, yes and Maggie knew that too, that is why she insisted British industry must become more competitive, restrictive practices had to end, feather bedding could not be afforded, productivity had to be increased, massive overmanning had to be reduced, all things the unions bitterly resisted.

    Then you talk about old outdated plant, yes and who was to the forefront in blocking the introduction of new equipment and working practices? Yup our old friends the trades unions. Even after the introduction of diesel locomotives there were “firemen” employed on British trains, not having a boiler to stoke they had the onerous task of checking the heat in the carriages, all union men, paid the skilled union rate, with pension, and overtime, all courtesy of the British tax payer.

    Remember the Times headline in 1979? Er no of course you won’t because the Times wasn’t published that year because neanderthal printers’ unions blocked the introduction of new printing technology, they wanted to use the old hot stone presses from the Victorian era, Murdoch ended up getting the paper for cheap and when he tried to move it from the cramped old premises in Fleet Street to a new bright airy purpose built plant at Wapping, who fought viciously, literally rioted, to stop this move? It wasn’t Maggie Thatcher that’s for sure.

    Face it Garibaldy you’re an advocate of Thatcherite industrial reform you just can’t bring yourself to admit it!

  • Harry Flashman

    By the way sorry for the delay in replying all last night I was unable to connect to Slugger, this is the second evening running this has happened, is it just me or is everyone experiencing this problem?

  • I see that this most inappropriate thread – talking about a most controversial conclusion to a still living politician’s career – has deteriorated into a discussion of the ‘Iron Lady’s ideas on industry and trade policy, as if she were the female equivalent of Alan Clark.

    Actually, as PM, she spent almost all her time, dealing with foreign affairs, particularly with its covert aspects – what I think, based upon my research, would have resulted in a nuclear war which would have destroyed us all if it had not been for the spying for the Soviets by Ames, Hanssen, Pollard et al. She allowed MI6 to supply the assassin, Captain Simon Hayward, it seems, to kill Sweden’s statsminister Olof Palme – what was intended to initiate a surprise non-nuclear conclusion to the Cold War.

    Thanks to the spying, though, Moscow was not fooled by the assassination in Stockholm, and, consequently, not required to resort to the use of its unknown 82 nuclear-armed SS-23 missiles in the confrontation. If it had been, a full scale nuclear war would have resulted.

    This was the most reckless conspiracy which she, Howe, the secuirty chiefs, Younger et al. should be made to account for before she is given a most undeserved, highly partisan state funeral. And if it still happens, Ames, Hanssen, Pollard et al. should be released from life imprisonment for services rendered to us all.

  • Garibaldy


    Connecting to slugger has been difficult over the last few days I’ve found as well. As for me being an advocate of Thatcherite reforms, you of course absolutely correct. I like to put on stockings and a blonde wig and run around saying I’m as British as Finchley.

  • Prionsa Eoghan


    I reckon that they are trying to keep the undesirables out.;¬) Me too as it happens.


    Now that you have put that picture in my mind I’ll never be able to take you seriously again.

  • Garibaldy


    I know. It’s the British as Finchley bit. Simply impossible to believe.

  • Dave

    Is the video on YouTube?

  • Garibaldy

    Premium rate website only.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘I like to put on stockings and a blonde wig and run around saying I’m as British as Finchley.’

    Just so long as you don’t run a motel Gari, I think we’ll be alright.

  • Comrade Stalin


    It was me who made the point that foreign firms have been able to establish successful manufacturing businesses in the UK. I do agree that part of the responsibility for the failure of the manufacturing sector in the UK was the stubborn attitude to the unions when it came to reform. They expected the government to use protectionism and tariffs to ensure that they could sell their goods, rather than building the goods that the market wanted. You can only fight that off for so long. The same problem is occurring right now in the Irish republic. A few years ago, I remember hearing about how the DART drivers were demanding a significant extra sum in return for agreeing to drive new trains, due to the “extra stress”. This isn’t what “socialism” is supposed to be; those unnecessary pay rises came out of public money, out of taxes paid by ordinary working people as well as the better off, which could have been better spent on hospitals or schools. This is just unions using their leverage for pure greed.

    The other side of the car manufacturing coin is the French crowds, such as Renault and Peugeot-Citroen. They’re heavily unionized, but they manage to sell a significant proportion of the cars on our streets right now and they seem to be quite capable of keeping pace with the demands of the market. I wonder what their secret is ? And of course, you’ve got what is rapidly becoming the largest car manufacturer in the world, Volkswagen. In Germany, the Bosch conglomerate funnels all of it’s money into a huge charitable trust. Despite not being driven by the need to provide profits to private shareholders and institutions, it makes high quality goods that command a premium price.

    It’s worth a closer look at the Japanese firms. The Japanese business culture is quite different to ours. The major firms are huge, and (certainly a while ago) they were all invested in each other and lent each other money – keiretsu is I think what they call it. Of course, this helped them to be resilient, but in time it caused them to resist market forces, and when the major Japanese recession came a lot of them ended up in big trouble. Japan itself was stuck in deflation and recession for around 15 years, continuously. Larger Japanese firms, such as Sony, are tottering and are increasingly reliant on a smaller number of revenue streams. The other attitude with the Japanese firms was their ability to learn from their mistakes, refine the product and patiently spend time getting it right – not sack the bosses for designing a product which could not sell.

    The age-old problem with the UK manufacturing sector is also prevalent in the USA. Detroit’s car manufacturers put out pure crap, and they cannot turn a profit, and are in fact being subsidized by the government, and this tradition has been continued by both Democrat and Republican administrations. Once again, Toyota and Honda have large manufacturing presence in the USA and they manage to make profits, which are of course taxed. In a perverse way, the companies who have the agility and the innovative capability to be profitable are subsidizing those who refuse to do the same.

    So I don’t accept the idea that pure Thatcherite ideology is the solution to all possible economic ills. The market is the only way to efficiently distribute resources and provide the innovation that improves the quality of life for ordinary people; and clearly unions, while they are entitled to bargain for a fair deal, should not be allowed to strangle things. However, the government has a role to play in providing help to businesses, particularly smaller firms, to help them train their workforces in new methods and technologies, and commit to new capital investment to improve quality and efficiency.

  • Dave

    Good post, CS, but I think you extrapolate too much from the British car manufacturing industry in producing your judgement on what factors have major “responsibility for the failure of the manufacturing sector in the UK.”

    Firstly, the UK’s manufacturing industry hasn’t failed. Its output has continued to expand (with ups and downs). It is, however, in relative decline to the faster growth of other sectors. Some industries such as the textiles have declined (with a drop of almost half in employment within a decade) due to cheaper imports (with the deficit on trade in clothing rising by £5bn to £7bn during the same period), but the upside is that consumers’ are paying less for clothes and shoes (prices have dropped by 37% on average), so they have more disposable income to spend elsewhere in the economy.

    Secondly, this slower growth is related to a failure of British manufacturing to produce innovative, high-margin products that can be ruthlessly commercialised in the global marketplace. The British are second only to the Americans in ability to commercialise their research and development, but the British are way off base in the viable commercial focus of their initial R&D;compared to the Americans. The clothing industry is a creative one but if you are making low value cloths that buyers won’t pay a premium for (and that don’t exploit the creativity of the industry), then you are going to suffer from lower cost suppliers in other countries who can do ‘cheaper’ better than you can. The slower growth is also related to non-manufacturing sectors having much lower start-up costs and higher ROI yields, thereby attracting the new generation of creative entrepreneurs to those sectors to the detriment of the manufacturing sector.

    This medium is a good example of both of those dynamics in play: while British businessmen were busy wondering what damn use the Internet would ever be to business, the American entrepreneurs were busy hyping the value of the Internet to businesses and making billions of dollars in the process. It takes make money and time (lots of both) to make money from manufacturing industry whereas those handicaps don’t apply, or apply with a lot less risk, in the service sector, for example. Clearly, the smarter brains will go with the option that produces the greatest reward for the least risk, so that’s what the manufacturing sector is up against.

    One way to help out is to have much lower rates of corporate taxes on manufacturing industry compared to businesses in the service sector. Admittedly, this won’t make manufacturing a lower risk business for investors than the service sector but it will reward those investors by allowing them to retain a greater share of their profits. Other initiatives would be offer greater tax incentives for R&D;activities in increasingly competitive markets, with the highest allowances going to industries that are in preferred industries such as software engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics, science, automotive industry, etc.

    At any rate, it’s a tad more complex than the vagaries of unionised labour.

  • Harry Flashman


    “It was me who made the point that foreign firms have been able to establish successful manufacturing businesses in the UK.”

    Indeed it was, my apologies, I don’t think we disagree much with our analysis of the decline of the British owned manufacturing sector (as Dave rightly points out there is still a huge manufacturing sector in the UK but it’s foreign owned), although I suggest we won’t be long in seeing the eventual decline of the French car producers too, outside of Europe they really don’t have a presence at all.

    The purpose of my original post was to deflate a lot of the hyped up nonsense about Margaret Thatcher “destroying” the British manufacturing industry, she did no such thing, it was in a death spiral largely of its own making (I’ll agree to differ over the percentage of blame to be handed around between the management and unions) she merely let the hopeless cases die off instead of throwing billions of tax payer pounds at what were glorified welfare schemes for members of the trade unions.

    I have spoken before about the sentimentalised nonsense surrounding much of British heavy industry, if they opened up the coal mines and steel mills today they would be highly automated concerns employing very few workers and any really dirty manual tasks would probably be done by Polish immigrants.

    Maggie did what she had to do, we all know that now, we are all actually much wealthier now than when she took power, let’s leave the hysterical hype (I’m not referring to your measured posts of course) surrounding simple necessary economic decisions a quarter of a century ago behind in history where it belongs.

  • More on the big picture of what the ‘Iron Lady’ thought she had to do, and almost got us all killed in the process just in case anyone is still interested in what she primarily did:

  • Simon Jenkins has the case for no state funeral about right in today’s Guardian, though tastefully and contradictorily leaving out all the dirty bits, especially in the foreign arena, in this pre-demise obituary.