My thoughts on the Thatcher Era



It is easy to look back in hindsight and look at the performance of anyone and see a myriad of ways that things could have been improved. The death of Margaret Thatcher has indeed provoked a sudden interest in politics (and the meaning of it) in a way which those with political power today have been unable to do... interesting that when there is someone with clear passion and purpose, whether you agree with them or not, it does create healthy debate, not the wishy washy acceptance of a rather indifferent, outmoded, collection of political puppets that we have today...

So what of Margaret Thatcher's era? There is no doubt that you will read some very divided comments both tributes on the one side and hostile reports on the other. I think that Rachel Elnaugh's blog (link at the bottom of this post)  is one view, but there will be others about how, during this time, community was destroyed and that she broke a nation. There was no doubt I shared the view of many at this time that the country should not be held to ransom by a group of powerful unions. This appeared to me as an example of unelected people forcing their will on the masses. It must have been so very tough in these mining towns however, mining was all they had known for decades and it was ripping the very heart from the communities there (many of whom are still feeling the effects today). But the mines did have to go, like any business they were unprofitable, it didn't make sense any more, and this applied to a great many difficult decisions that needed to be made. Many other industries since these times have subsequently suffered as technology has moved on, that is part of life and we all need to be able to respond accordingly...

But Thatcher's era has been mainly analysed positively by the winners of the era and negatively by those who were losers... of course there will always be winners and losers when we focus on "money" ... it goes with the territory, but what can we really learn from the era?

Thatcher was a woman of conviction, she was raised by a shopkeeper and it stuck with me when she said 'we must become a nation of shopkeepers'. We must be personally responsible for our income, our lives, we must be rewarded for hard work and she was a huge advocate of the free market economy... no place for time wasters, or people who did not want to work hard... At this time the people in Britain probably did need a bit of a wake up call... I remember thinking to myself as a young man, the unions must have been really important after the industrial revolution when rich business owners were exploiting their workers. Providing a safe place to work, with proper rest periods, holidays and other conditions we take for granted nowadays, but had they got too strong? Had they now served their purpose? There seemed to me to be a never ending round of battles between unions asking for better pay and conditions fighting employers who wanted improved efficiencies and higher productivity. Get more for doing more seemed to make sense somehow, but these were challenging times.

Thatcher also went about privatising and selling off many of our national assets. Personally I thought this would come back to haunt us... it seemed like the easy way out and a way to raise a lot of money too! Wouldn't it have been better to improve the management of these services but retain ownership within the country, at least we would be masters of our own destiny in the years to come... I believe this was what fuelled the 'money for nothing' movement...

The other contributor to the 'money for nothing' movement was the great council house sell off... again it did much to stimulate the economy, it got people thinking about money, it made us a nation of homeowners... just the kind of people who voted conservative. Thatchers created her own supporters... it was a very astute move which served her well... but the side effects of this were probably more than even she bargained for... indeed many people have been living off the proceeds of property equity to top up their income for decades... this has fuelled the 'debt economy'.

I don't believe that Thatcher intended to create a nation who exhibited the qualities of lust for money, greed, egotistical, 'win-at-all-costs', power hungry, controlling and manipulative but she laid down the foundation and a set of building blocks that would enable it to happen. Indeed many of the decisions which led to the banking collapse took place took place after she had left office, but the mentality of business people had been forged, the possibilities were endless... we just need to go out and grab what is rightfully ours 'at any price' ... and so it came to pass...

When I look back at this era I liken it to a child growing up... when Thatcher came to power she re-educated the population... you are independent, free thinking people, you can have what you want... we were like teenagers. If you think back to when you were a teenager and as we move into adolescence we start to flex our muscles, we crave our independence, to be noticed, to be popular... and we want everything now... we are in a big hurry... and... we're out for no.1 we don't really worry about what kind of mess we leave in our wake... we know where we're headed and beware anyone that gets in our way!

We have now reached Adulthood! ... We have behaved entirely selfish. We have focussed only on what would we get out of it... nothing would be done unless we received a benefit... and we have burned a lot of bridges along the way... some of them irreparably so. We have been competing with everyone around us, looking to boost our own ego, to come out on top... does any of this sound familiar?

Well here we are... 30 years on... and it is in a mess... time to accept our responsibility? I think so... in the same way that a teenager becomes a young adult and starts to recognise the value of those around them that can help their progression, so me must collaborate and work together to repair the damage which has been done. As a young adult must swallow their pride and recognise that they have a lot to learn about life and living alongside others, we must stop trying to compete and look to be superior over others... we are ALL IMPORTANT and everyone is able to make a valued contribution! As a young adult you realise that you cannot know everything, and that in life it is, and always will be, a team effort... As a young adult you realise that when everyone is out for themselves there are few that you can rely on to help you, nurture you and give you that support, knowledge and assistance that you need... that can make LIFE very difficult indeed...

We have been a very difficult teenager... we have created a huge mess, it's not going to clean itself up... and those who don't grow into mature adults are going to find things challenging in the coming years.

... and so a final thought... looking back we can see the error of our ways, everything is always easy as I said before in hindsight. But the Thatcher era was perhaps a very necessary one for us all. Without having learned the lessons that this period of time has taught us, we would not be ready to change... It took 30 years for us to get to the point where we are, and learn the lesson... Money, Greed, Ego, Power, Control, Manipulation, dominion over others, unending growth... doesn't work, it was an illusion (that we created from an implanted idea) that drew us to this DARK SIDE. None of the above makes people happy anyway... I think with what we now know, and the technology available to us, we can put it right in much less than 30 years... it is now time to become a responsible adult, take action and play our part...


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