You left a comment saying HOOOOGE thanks for the Sir Robert Carey books…

… which you enjoyed while you were studying Scottish history (James IV to VI) at Lancaster. And somehow I lost it. I don\’t know why. I don\’t know how. And now I can\’t find it anywhere (yes, I\’ve checked spam and trash). I was just trying to reply and say thank you for your praise and tell you that you can get all the Carey books on ebook from Poisoned Pen Press and that there\’s a new one coming out soon(ish) called \”An Air of Treason.\”

You can also find my Page on Facebook.

 

Ding-Dong! The non-feminist union-defeating Argie-beating Witch is Dead

I remember the party when Margaret Thatcher won the election in 1978.

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Actually I don\’t. Boy, did I get drunk on champagne. I was an enthusiastic member of the young Conservatives back then and we partied all night. I think?

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Why? Because being a Tory then was the only possible reaction to the suffocating bunch of Socialist Worker\’s Party rich-girl groupies I went to school with in Hampstead. It astonished me then and now how these nicely brought up, highly intelligent, utterly comfortable upper middle class girls fell for Marxism and Trotskyist rhetoric.

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All around us was the (gently stinking) evidence that Socialism was a destructive dangerous force which could never deliver on any of its promises, never had and in the event, never did. Union arrogance in the 1970s meant that we had power cuts, miners\’ strikes, dock strikes, transport strikes, uncollected rubbish in the streets, unburied bodies – culminating in what people call the Winter of Discontent. And that was with a Labour government in charge. None of our heavy industry worked properly, the cars made by British Leyland were shit and the mines and docks not much better. There\’s a lot of socialist mythology still flowing about the Noble Miners: individually I\’m sure they were noble, but as a collective force they were dangerous, especially under the leadership of egotistic revolutionary socialists like Arthur Scargill.

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In the Socialist People\’s Republic of Britain, with Comrade Arthur Scargill in charge, the first people up against a wall facing a firing squad would have been the idealistic Lefty girls of my school along with their entire families. That\’s what happened in Russia, Eastern Europe, Cambodia.

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Mrs Thatcher was an extraordinary phenomenon and I believe she did a number of things that urgently needed doing – taming the unions being number one among them. The fact that most youngsters have no idea why they might have needed taming testifies to how well she did it. Fighting Argentina for the Falklands was another. And backing Ronald Reagan in his cunning high-stakes poker game with Russia was the third. She saw the possibilities of Gorbachev early and helped make the fall of Soviet Communism possible (after which a lot of the Lefty groups my schoolmates had joined suddenly ran out of money).

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The fact that there\’s any kind of democracy in Argentina today is at least partly due to the drubbing she and the Armed Forces gave to their then dictator, General Galtieri (the clue\’s in the title, chaps). He made the terrible mistake of underestimating her because she was a woman. His underestimation of this country was quite correct: if any of her male predecessors or successors had been in charge when he invaded the Falklands (to grab the oil and the fishing grounds, by the way) – they would now be called the Malvinas, of course.

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I remember queuing with my husband to get into the Visitors Gallery at the House of Commons on the morning of the emergency debate – we just missed getting in because we didn\’t get up early enough. There was uproar. Her government would have fallen if she hadn\’t announced some kind of action – but her decision to send a Task Force was a dangerous gamble because most people (including the Foreign Office and the USA) were expecting peace talks and some kind of fudge, preliminary to handing over against the wishes of the Falkland islanders themselves. That\’s what General Galtieri had banked on. It\’s ridiculous to imagine that she engineered the Falklands war so as to win the next election – she could just as easily have lost and gone down to a vote of no confidence. She reacted powerfully to events and had no foreknowledge of what might happen.

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There are plenty of things she got wrong. She went enthusiastically for the Big Bang in the City of London, deregulating it so it could be the star performer of the economy. That seemed to work so well that Blair and Brown\’s New Labour government backed the financial shysters even more enthusiastically. We know better now, of course, but she didn\’t then.

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She destroyed British manufacturing industry, partly unintentionally, because like most nicely brought-up middle class women of her era she was deeply suspicious of heavy engineering. She had no idea how her battle against inflation and her high taxation would hit the uneconomic, union-hobbled unmodernised factories of the north.

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And partly it was intentional destruction. She deliberately took on the miners under Arthur Scargill. The 1973 miners\’ strike had destroyed Ted Heath\’s Conservative government showing that the ancient problem of medieval governance – the Overmighty Subject – had returned in a new form. When an outsider group of men can blackmail the government, that\’s what you\’ve got. It was true during the Wars of the Roses about the nobility with their followers. It was also true of the Communist infiltrated unions of the Seventies. (I\’m planning a blog about Overmighty Subjects because it\’s a very interesting problem and extremely topical.)

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So the Conservative party and the entire governing elite were out for revenge against the powerful miners\’ unions. Luckily, the lion-hearted miners had a truly stupid donkey of a leader in Scargill who walked straight into Thatcher\’s trap and lost to a very clever combination strategy of siege and divide-and-rule.

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The suffering of the mining communities was terrible and has entered socialist legend. Did Thatcher care? No. Did she mind the police brutality on the picket lines? No. She saw it as a battle for who ruled Britain and she was quite clear it should be her and Parliament (in that order) not Scargill. Did she care about the destruction of the miners\’ communities? No. Why should she? By destroying Heath, they had shown they were dangerous and so she took them out.

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You can criticise her destructiveness and callousness, but she was right to take on the unions. The trade union legislation that her polecat Norman Tebbit pushed through made the unions far more democratic and responsible. Ironically, we now need them to get stronger because once again we have an Overmighty Subject problem in the form of the too-big-to-fail banks and the multinational corporations.

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It\’s clear she lost the plot with the Poll Tax which I suspect was cleverly sold to her as a way of getting nasty Labour voters off the electoral register. At the time I thought she was wrong about Europe, but it turns out now that she was prophetically right. As a result she was stabbed in the back by her own party – and by many of the same people who are saying nice things about her in hushed tones now she\’s dead. Her replacement, John Major, was a return to the wet dorks we\’d suffered from before her.

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Nothing shows up the knee-jerk sexism of British Left-wing politics better than their current hatred and villification of Margaret Thatcher. In the knockabout world of parliament she needed the hide of a rhinoceros to cope with the rocks chucked at her. She was then insulted for having a thick skin.

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She is jeered at for being a middle aged middle class woman and particularly hated by feminists, male or female, who were horrified because the first woman Prime Minister was not a Socialist and had her hair done regularly. The mediocracy loathe her because of her simple certainties and belief in capitalism.

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Without those, of course, she wouldn\’t have had anything like the effect she did. A lot of the hatred comes from the fact that she was a powerful and effective woman leader – something Englishmen secretly love but also find terribly hard to forgive.

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She had something none of the present bunch of turgid parliamentary inadequates possesses: for good or ill, she had deep personal convictions which she stuck to with tremendous honesty.

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And she was brave. Even after the IRA tried to kill her and nearly succeeded, she spoke clearly and honestly about it to the press – with not a hair out of place.

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Take some classes in Thatcherism, chaps.