Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher Decentralized the British Economy but Centralized Politics

|

Credit: Jay Galvin/flickr

In the hours since Margaret Thatcher passed away there have been the predictable praises and distasteful jeers from conservatives and the left. Unsurprisingly, much of this reaction will be focused on what Jesse has correctly pointed out is a symbolic Thatcher, and not on her actual economic record. While the symbolic Thatcher praised by many conservatives may be more impressive than the real Thatcher she still deserves credit for making valuable reforms to the British economy in the face of fierce opposition. However, while Thatcher may have made important (if sometimes exaggerated) changes to the British economy it is important not to forget that she made changes to British politics that have not been as beneficial as the economic revolution she oversaw.

Reason Foundation's Tom Clougherty mentioned this revolution in his review of Simon Jenkins' Thatcher & Sons when he was back in England working for the London-based Adam Smith Institute:

The first revolution is the one usually associated with the Iron Lady – the liberation of the economy from the unions and the post-war socialist consensus. This revolution saved Britain from being the "sick man of Europe" and made the continued economic growth and prosperity that followed possible.

But it was accompanied by a 'second revolution', which was altogether more malign, consisting of the massive centralisation of power in Whitehall, the destruction of local government, and the rapid proliferation of quangos, regulations, and targets. As the first revolution runs out of steam, the second continues to gain pace. As Jenkins says, our everyday lives are now dictated by central government to an extent that would be unthinkable in most other countries – even 'left-wing' ones.

For those not up-to-date with their Britishms a "quango" is a QUasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization.

So, while those who believe in free markets should applaud many of Thatcher's economic reforms it is important not to forget her other and less impressive legacy, the centralization of much of the political power in the U.K.

Advertisement

NEXT: MD Teen's Gun Rights Testimony Goes Viral

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Oh, that’s too bad–MS, ugh.

    2. Here’s your #3: Original Mouseketeer Annette Funicello dies

      I eagerly await 30 reason.com articles devoted to her.

    3. Oh, I had the hots for her from her beach movie days. Probably helped create my thing for brunettes. Her and Paula Prentiss.

  1. Reminds me of how Reagan, the patron saint of conservatism, increased the role of the federal government in so many aspects of our lives.

    1. Remember, we lose, always.

  2. From what I understand, Britain is loaded with recently-created little “authorities” and “metropolitan cities” and other lower level governments that supposedly devolve power from the center. Not to mention the increased local powers in Scotland and Wales. Or is all that just for show?

  3. Also, poll taxes.

  4. Finally, a Thatcher post. I was wondering when you guys would get around to saying something about her.

    1. I think an entire day devoted to talking about Maggie is exactly what we should dedicate ourselves to.

      1. Now’s the time, I think, for Rod Stewart to admit that song was about her.

        1. Same with Carly Simon.

          1. I thought that was common knowledge–didn’t the Iron Lady sing some background in that song?

        1. Not that song. The song Rod Stewart sang.

            1. “Hot Legs”, of course.

            2. He’s talking about Forever Young, of course.

              1. Isn’t that a Mel Gibson song?

              2. He’s talking about Forever Young, of course.

                Ugh, I’m not clicking that link. Although it could be worse: it could be Bryan Adams. *shudders*

        2. Shit, I just heard an obit on ABC radio that said she started the “contriversial” Falklands war. So wrong.

          1. Jesus, that’s the dumbest meme ever. No one on the islands wants to go under Argentina, not even the sheep, and they’d been in British hands for over 150 years when the stupid war happened.

            Argentina was flat-out wrong then and remains so today when it makes stupid noises about the islands.

            To not get this shows exactly how lost the major news media is today. Just run with the stupid–even if someone calls you on it, you can just label them as insensitive or Republican.

            1. And Argentina at that time was ruled by one of the worst and most murderous right wing military juntas of the Cold War. Since when do liberals love right wing imperialism?

              Oh when doing so means sticking it to a free western country. Liberals really do hate us for our freedom.

              1. I didn’t get any of the arguments not supporting the UK back then. I guess there was some weird Cold War reason for not totally flipping off the Argentinian regime at the time, but I never fully understood it. Of course, we eventually did support the Brits.

                1. The U.S. had a treaty with the Argentinian junta – some sort of mutual defense thing IIRC.

                  Basically, the U.S. was officially neutral, since it was a fight between two allies.

                  1. Okay, I’ll buy that, though I distinctly recall our neutrality becoming somewhat less. . .neutral.

                    1. Wasn’t our eventual role in that skirmish/ass kicking to ensure the safety of the sea lanes for the Brits?

                    2. Come on, after the U.S. neutrality in WW-II (shadowing German Subs and broadcasting their positions to British warships, providing armaments to the Brits for free), the way the U.S. treated the Brits this time round was far more neutral.

                    3. In any event, whether we were neutral, “neutral”, or “new tail”, I think the British were firmly in the right.

              2. I tried to find a link to the verbal I heard, but no luck, FWIW.

    2. John assured us this morning that Reason would ignore Thatcher as compared to Ebert.

      1. The Reason staff ignored her passing like the US DoD ignores the words of a poor, Pakistani man in a village 10k miles away.

        1. That is right sloopy. They just kill random people. No one who has ever been killed by a drone strike in Pakistan was anything but an innocent person. Never. And no one in Pakistan ever went across the border to murder and terrorize people in Afghanistan. And even when they do, those people should be thankful. There is no higher honor than dying at the hands of a brown man.

          1. Jesus Tapdancin’ Christ. I was just making a joke that their reaction has been a bit overblown. And you have to take it all personally and get butthurt about it.

            Lighten up, Francis.

            1. My apologies for not having my sarc meter on.

              1. No problem, but I was this close [makes really close sign with left hand] to losing my shit altogether.* Please don’t do it again.

                *I’m having a bad day, which began when a dumbass dog Banjos got killed our last lamb (after killing 3 other ones and countless chickens and ducks in the past month). I went for the shotgun and she told me she’d leave if I shot it.

                Am I wrong for wanting to exact a little vengeance on a dog that’s very skittish, murders our livestock and terrorizes other peoples’ livestock in the area? She eventually got her way and gave him to somebody on Craigslist. But I still maintain that the son of a bitch should have gone down.

                1. “Am I wrong for wanting to exact a little vengeance on a dog that’s very skittish, murders our livestock and terrorizes other peoples’ livestock in the area?”

                  Petition the gov’t to call your dog a cat. Problem solved.

                2. Animals are what they are. Shooting the dog would no more reform it than giving it to someone who will keep it far from your livestock.

                  I should suggest, though, that if she has to threaten to leave you for you to cool your jets, that you reexamine how much you are valuing her happiness.

                  Seriously.

                  Because it’s not going to get easier when you have two children wreaking havoc and you are disagreeing on how to raise/discipline them.

                  I wasn’t there, and so my opinion is worth what you paid for it, but I offer it as a friend who wants you two to have a long and happy marriage.

                  1. Point taken, tarran. And she didn’t have to threaten me to cool me down. She just said she’d leave if I shot the dog and I didn’t shoot the dog.

                    Now all I have to do is explain to my kids that the dog killed the last lamb we have (after killing all three of our ewes and us selling the rams) because we didn’t get rid of it weeks ago when I said it was a menace that was killing all of our other animals.

                    1. Menace doesn’t do it justice. Dog has got to go.

                    2. struggling to wrap my head around the notion that you putting down the dog that killed multiple other animals makes you the bad guy. Is this normal for her, a post-partum swing, or something else because I am totally missing the part that says your actions would have been wrong.

                3. Sloopy.,

                  I feel your pain as a major dog and animal lover. But also being someone who spent a fair time around farms. Farming is a tough gig. I stand behind no one in my love of dogs. But the number one rule of farms and dogs is “thou shalt not kill livestock”. You can’t have a dog around that kills shit. Banjos needs to understand that. The dog has to go or give up having a farm.

                4. He’ll be back one day for vengeance.

          2. John, terrorism only lasts 5 minutes. Murder is forever.

  5. Thatcher, like Reagan, was a liberal who used conservative rhetoric to her ends.

  6. Aren’t you guys supposed to seek immediate medical attention if your Thatcher boner lasts longer than 4 hours? I’m pretty sure that warning is clearly printed on her toe tag.

    1. There’s no way for them to win. Too many posts and people bitch; too few posts and the conservatards bitch their great-grandma’s corpse is not getting a proper tongue bath.

      1. Blame John bitching about it in the morning links.

      2. I’d say she was five posts more important than Ebert. And fifteen posts more important than gay marriage.

        1. What if Ebert had had a gay wedding? Would the servers in Culver City have exploded?

        2. ^^This

        3. What did Ebert get 2? 3? posts.

          I think Maggie is up to 8 today.

    2. It’s this or gay marriage. Name your poison.

  7. Also she centralized the decision making within the CP making it lose touch with its base.

  8. Britain’s culture of socialism is more entrenched due to various reasons (such as the British empire which made government powerful and it was hard to let go of), so it’s harder to apply free market principles there. Cut her some slack.

  9. Another article, eh? You’d think Margaret Thatcher was more important than Roger Ebert or something.

    1. Arguably?

        1. Look, Ken, a high school friend of mine is a poly sci professor at Brown. Wait, I have no idea if that bolsters your argument or not.

        2. Hey, angry lesbians need a college, too.

          1. Isn’t Mt Holyoke enough?

            1. I’ve never heard of that school. Did it field a team in tournament?

              1. If Mt Holyoke is not a qualifier, how about Smith?

            2. Yeah, don’t sell Wesleyan and Wellesley short, yo.

              1. Yeah, as a Wesleyan alum, I must say we did have some pretty angry lesbians. Though I think that the angry Asian Americans (don’t you dare put a hyphen in there) and the retards trying to unionize the cleaning staff and the Malcolm X House and all the rest of the perpetually outraged gave them a run for their money.

                1. A friend of mine went to Wesleyan straight out of high school. He lasted a year before transferring out. His stories were hilarious (to me).

                  1. The daughter of a good friend of my wife’s went there. She came to Washington to change the world. Married the first rich guy she met, then dumped him for his best friend within a year. And now is a kept house wife teaching the occasional yoga class trying to get pregnant.

                    She is a real feminist icon.

                    1. And now is a kept house wife teaching the occasional yoga class trying to get pregnant.

                      She is a real feminist icon.

                      But John, isn’t this what you think all feminists secretly want? 😉

                    2. Yes Niki. They mostly want a nice guy with a big bank account and a baby. And God do they hate themselves for it.

                  2. After the orientation instruction that everything you do is rape, I managed to avoid the ridiculousness for the most part. It’s really a pretty good school if you stay away from the victimology departments. They’ll never get another cent from me, though, which I think I have finally convinced them of.

            3. That is for the dumb angry lesbians. The smart ones need a school too. And that school is known as Wellsley.

          2. Isn’t that why Bryn Mawr exists?

          3. Did Vassar shut their doors or something?

            Fine, I’ll rephrase it. “The University of Michigan, arguably one of the worst co-educational Universities in America…”

            1. What, men go to Michigan?

              1. well, there is a basketball team though “go to Michigan” could be an overstatement.

        3. Bowdoin all day and twice on Sundays. This the college that doesn’t offer a single class on the political or military history of the US. But does have a class on “Queer Gardening”

          http://www.slate.com/articles/….._lady.html

            1. Example:

              253b. The Jungle in Indian History (1)

              (Same as Asian Studies 253) When pre-modern Indians used the Sanskrit word for jungle (jangala), they didn’t imagine trees or tigers; they pictured open savannah and antelope. When modern Indians speak of the jungle, they think of forests and wilderness. Why did the jungle change its identity and how does its transformation relate to developments in South Asian environments, politics, culture, and society? We read classical Indian literature alongside colonial and post-colonial natural histories, works of fiction, activist polemics and forestry treatises. Ms. Hughes.

              That’s a 200-level class, people. And they only go to 300-level to get a History degree.

              1. What about this

                228. Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in the Making of Modern America
                Brian Purnell M 1:00 – 2:25, W 1:00 – 2:25 Adams-406
                Examines the political activism, cultural expressions, and intellectual history that gave rise to a modern Black freedom movement, and that movement’s impact on the broader American (and international) society. Students study the emergence of community organizing traditions in the southern black belt as well as postwar black activism in U.S. cities; the role the federal government played in advancing civil rights legislation; the internationalism of African American activism; and the relationship between black culture, aesthetics, and movement politics. The study of women and gender a central component. Using biographies, speeches, and community and organization studies, students analyze the lives and contributions of Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Huey Newton, and Fannie Lou Hamer, among others. Closely examines the legacies of the modern Black freedom movement: the expansion of the Black middle class, controversies over affirmative action, and the rise of Black elected officials.

                1. That’s a legit history class, in my opinion. At least when compared to “What Indian called a jungle a long time ago is different than what they call one nowadays”.

                2. What, no Obama? RACISM!

                  1. Try these boots on for size: Sex & Reproduction in 19th Century United States: Before Margaret Sanger (1) (Same as Women’s Studies 260) Focusing on the United States from roughly 1800 to 1900, this course explores sex and reproduction and their relationship to broader transformations in society, politics, and women’s rights. Among the issues considered are birth patterns on the frontier and in the slave South; industrialization, urbanization, and falling fertility; the rise of sex radicalism; and the emergence of “heterosexual” and “homosexual” as categories of identity. The course examines public scandals, such as the infamous Beecher-Tilton adultery trial, and the controversy over education and women’s health that was prompted by the opening of Vassar College. The course ends by tracing the complex impact of the Comstock law (1873) and the emergence of a modern movement for birth control. Ms. Edwards.”

                    1. In all seriousness, WTF would you do with the knowledge from that class? Talk about a worthless waste of time.

                    2. I’m not taking any class that doesn’t include the Three Hs: hegemony, heteronormative, hermeneutics.

          1. But does have a class on “Queer Gardening”

            Secretly sponsored by Gatorade, no doubt.

            1. Secretly sponsored by Gatorade Brawndo, no doubt.

              FIFY!

    2. And he only got 11.5 years.

      1. In defense of the state, they probably need to keep cell space available for the next group of crooked Detroit politicians. A longer sentence might have jeopardized their sentencing.

    3. Celebrate diversity and open borders with child slavers from Togo.

      1. He’s worse than those Nigerian Princes that e-mail me all the time.

    4. Canada does not want this creep.

    5. Canada does not want this creep.

  10. Sean Gabb on Maggie: http://libertarianalliance.wor…..t-thatcher.

    1. Way, way too pessimistic. Yes, like Reagan, she wasn’t a perfect libertarian, but like Reagan, she was a lot better than any realistic alternative at the time.

  11. This just in! Kristin Cavalleri is still hot!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvs…..birth.html

    1. ‘…she told her Twitter fans: “I haven’t lost all my baby weight yet. That’s sending the wrong message to women.”‘

      Is the fluff that actresses have for brains their secret to staying so skinny?

  12. This woman’s tears are so yummy

    I’d spent my elementary school years yelling “Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher,” because I was one of the kids deprived when, as education secretary, she abolished free school milk. Until that policy went into effect, I’d spent every morning complaining bitterly about having to drink those odd little bottles of curdling room-temperature milk?at least that’s how it was served in my school?but that didn’t stop me from protesting the reform.

    Why was Thatcher such a hated figure? Yes, it was about her policies?privatization, the selling off of public housing, her wars against Argentina in the Falklands and against the miners and the working class in Britain?but there was something else at work. On some level she was hated because she was a woman. Between men who hated themselves for responding to Thatcher’s stern, dominatrix-like scolding (watch “You turn if you want to; the lady’s not for turning” and tell me you don’t get chills) and women who wondered why our breakthrough female politician had to be a woman like her (though we surely knew that only an Iron Lady could have smashed the mold of British politics), the fact that Thatcher was female complicated things.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/….._lady.html

    1. a traitor to her own class

      That right there was her cardinal sin.

      1. Yup. She was a prole who didn’t know her place.

    2. “The milk program was poorly executed and I hated being subjected to it, but how dare she do something about it!”

      1. It’s a good illustration for public school as a whole. Curdled education that gives you diarrhea is better than none at all!

  13. The thing is, from this one line you can deduce the whole bloody thing, no link needed:

    “Police don’t believe the bear was a threat to people.”

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/201…..-backyard/

    1. Later that day the police gunned down an angry chihuahua. Officer safety comes first.

    2. If the bear had been a dog, that would be different.

    3. He forgot to yell “it’s coming right for us!”

    4. Bears are definitely a threat to people, just look at Warty.

    5. Bears and dogs don’t like each other. The enemy of my enemy and all that.

  14. The quango ate my baby

  15. Lets roll with it dude. Wow.

    http://www.SurfPrivately.tk

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.