Margaret Thatcher died

April 8, 2013 • 5:25 am

According to the BBC, Margaret Thatcher died this morning from a stroke at age 87.  As I understand it, she’d had dementia (probably Alzheimer’s) for some years.  I didn’t like her, and so can’t eulogize her, but am passing on the news for your perusal. Weigh in below if you have something to say. Many of you certainly were under her power when she was Prime Minister.

Update: in a macabre sidenote, the Beeb had this news item up for a while this morning (it’s now been removed):


246 thoughts on “Margaret Thatcher died

  1. She was always decisive, often wrong. A great political opportunist of the 20th century. A slightly less idiotic and less uneducated Palin. She didn’t have ideas and depended on simplistic soundbytes to further her nefarious agenda. She destroyed miners, unions and opened the door to the deregulation that led to the free for all on the stock market that fueled the economic crisis which still affects the world today. Does that count as a eulogy?

        1. I think even Palin has more sense and savvy than you! After all she has more than Barack Hussein – and owing to his reflections on Thatcher he as a great deal more than you.

          1. Somebody obviously has no sense of humor.

            I guess taking Palin seriously requires suspension of humor and disbelief.

    1. Thatcher was a very divisive figure in the Uk and I hated her with great enthusiasm. But a comparison to Palin is silly. Thatcher was a research chemist for a while and later a lawyer.

      1. Actually perhaps the only thing that can be said in her favour, and should be said here, was that she was a supporter of science.

        And on religion in Established-church England, she was, if I remember rightly, deafeningly silent.

  2. Was born the year she took power, that too in one of the “former colonies”, where the “sun never set”. Cant say there was much of an influence on my life or thought….since you asked. 🙂

  3. Couldn’t give a stuff about her death, someone much more important has also just died, my mum.

    1. I’m very sorry for your loss.

      When my mother died, I was struck by the singularity of it. It happens once, and the one time it happens, it can never happen again.

    2. Vale.
      My mum isn’t well at the moment (and it ain’t gonna get better). That funeral, whenever it happens, isn’t going to be fun. But she outlasted the Bitch of Grantham, with sufficient intra-cranial marbles to appreciate spitting on the Maggon’s grave.
      I’ll tell her that in the morning ; it’ll penetrate and cheer her up. Slainte, as we wish you (and yours) “Good Health” in the Gaelteach.

    3. Dear Graham

      you mean more to me than any politicians. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

  4. I’m off to the pub to celebrate.

    We will laugh, the day that Thatcher dies, even though we know its not right, we will dance and sing all night.

    “The day that Thatcher dies” – Hefner

    1. Was trying to organise such myself.
      As an Ordained Minister of the FSM …
      May your hangover be mild and fruitful, for you have celebrated good news in an appropriate manner. Blessed by the hangover, for from it we were born.
      Ohhh, I feel all religious. Can I Haz Powr?

  5. I never thought much of her or warmed to her but I won’t celebrate. The Labour Party put her in power with their crazy behaviour, and that let her stay too long.

  6. Wow, as a Brit, it seems odd to learn about something like this on a science blog website written by a US biology professor. But I guess that’s the international world we live in. I haven’t been to the BBC since early this morning so I didn’t know.

    It’ll be interesting to see the reactions. She was very unpopular with many.

    1. Unpopular?! She was *hated* and I, along with a large number of British and Irish friends, am celebrating her death. The reasons are many and varied but this odious woman is gone and we are happy!

      1. Whether Margaret Thatcher created a society that was less compassionate than it would have been without her is hard to say. But, I think we can say that celebrating the deaths of those one doesn’t agree with is not the right direction to take. Don’t turn political views into festering sores; that’s a path we’ve been down all too often before.

        1. Somebody has to counteract the sickening hagiography. Turning political figures into infallible saints can have very harmful consequences on future policies.

          Mrs. Thatcher’s family can properly mourn Margeret, the actual person they loved.

          The rest of the world only has an abstract idea of a public figure, and pretending there is something more to it is false sentimentality.

            1. I strongly disagree with your arrogant moralizing. If anyone wants to celebrate the death of someone they hated, I say to them “Have at it. Enjoy it with gusto.”

              Some people deserve no respect. Death doesn’t grant respect to a person who perpetrated profound evil to a great number of her fellow humans.

              As a USian I don’t care enough about Maggie to celebrate her death. However, when George W Bush dies I may just throw a party.

              1. So you think your hatred is some kind of justification for wishing people dead? What’s that if it isn’t self centred arrogance? And it’s just a step away from the justification of terrorist atrocities. The Arabs hate the Jews and wish them dead, the Catholics hate the Protestants… Would you also find them celebrating each other’s deaths as commendable?

                Sure I’m moralising, I would prefer to live in a world where people don’t hate each other at the drop of a hat and celebrate each other’s deaths; that’s not a moral stance I feel the need to apologize for.

              2. Roq,
                I agree with what you said with some qualification:

                Hatred is not good and should be reigned in and diffused. But when it comes to a Thatcher, a Reagan, a Bush, or a Cheney, we’re not looking at just the drop of a hat. We’re talking about people whose combination of over-confidence, tendency to over simplify, and failure of compassion made them dangerous people who created unnecessary suffering and death for untold millions because of devotion to some abstract ideas with consequences they couldn’t imagine. We’re talking about effectively political psychopaths with legions of admirers and apologists, just like any charismatic cult figure has.

                To be silent and respectful is immoral in this case. Morality is always invoked to excuse acts of cruelty and violence against what has been labeled evil. But what is good and what is evil isn’t so clear as people would like to believe.

              3. @ Jeff

                Well, I see no reason to be silent and “respectful”.

                But criticising people’s celebrating another person’s death needn’t be about “respect for the dead” (whether MT actually any respect is moot; many think not) but about respect for the living. At the risk of seeming trite and pompous, it seems to me that such celebration simply devalues human life.


              4. @Ant
                I agree, cheering death is ugly, whether we’re talking about the death of Reagan or Thatcher, or whether we are talking about the death caused by war. It seems to me there is nothing uglier in the world than people cheering about war, and it’s far too common. I don’t want to cheer her death, though some here evidently have deeper personal feelings of rage than I do, and I can’t say whether they have justification or not.

                I wish we could not talk ill of the dead, for what’s the point? Nothing would please me more if Maggie’s friends and family could quietly and personally mourn her death, and that were the end of the story. A human being is gone. However, when devotees, sycophants, and other admirers of a public figure begin the job of public beatification and polishing an image that has little to do with the actual human being involved, isn’t there some responsibility to speak out and provide counter points?

              5. @gbjames

                Good article. Well put by Greenwald (as a general principle, not just with reference to Maggie).

              6. “isn’t there some responsibility to speak out and provide counter points?”

                Yes! Let’s “speak ill” where it’s justified, of anyone, living or dead.


      2. Hmm… I find it hard to celebrate anyone’s death or be happy that anyone has died.

        The time for celebration was when she stepped down as PM.

        She cast a long shadow over UK politics, and her death doesn’t change that.

        I don’t much care for either Mark or Carol, but they have my condolences for the loss of their mother nonetheless.


        1. She not only ended the cold war (in close collaboration with Reagan and Gorbachev) but I do believe she was very influential in breaking the stranglehold of Irish terrorists and other lefties of the time that eventually led to the end of the IRA as we knew it then.

          1. She not only ended the cold war (in close collaboration with Reagan and Gorbachev)

            LOL. Good one. Maybe you do have a sense of humor.

            What always amuses me is that right wing ideology correctly maintained that central economic planning was doomed to fail, and yetthey dramatically exaggerated the threat posed by communism. For the defense industry that was good for business, and red-scare was effective politics for many.

            So the USSR was an inferior system doomed to failure, and at the same time it was an existential threat to capitalism and democracy. I don’t know how they maintained that cognitive dissonance with a straight face.

            I think what we saw in the 80s was the inevitable collapse of the USSR’s economic system, and it would have occurred no matter who was in office in the west or what their policies were. This idea of winning the cold war was not based on the actions of Reagan or Thatcher. It was based on events determined by the failings of a command economy.

            1. “I think what we saw in the 80s was the inevitable collapse of the USSR’s economic system, and it would have occurred no matter who was in office in the west or what their policies were.”

              I and many friends who followed politics were taken by surprise by the collapse of communism. I expected it to happen, just not in my lifetime. I think we can thank Gorbachev more than anyone. I still can’t believe the old guard chose him.

          2. Ah, yes – her policy for Ireland was fantastic: foster criminal behavior by the military. As horrible as a number of figures in the IRA were, you can bet their bombing Ireland and later England had a lot to do with dear old Maggie. Maggie didn’t end any violence there, she provoked it.

          3. “She not only ended the cold war…”I was under the impression that this was not a forum for disseminating fairy tales.

        2. It’s not celebration, maybe. More like, relief.

          I’m reminded about what Hitchens said about Jerry Falwell’s death only hours later: “it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.”

          There are people who improve the world by taking their exit. I don’t know that Margaret Thatcher was one of these, but I respect the thoughts and criticisms of people who feel that she was.

      3. She was *hated*

        “She was deeply, vigorously and actively *hated*” by many.
        I have 500-odd miles to drive tomorrow (today!), otherwise I would be organising street parties.

        1. “She was deeply, vigorously and actively *hated*” by many.

          She seems to have been deeply, vigorously and actively admired by many more, not just in Britain but around the world, not least in the U.S.

          I think your ostentatious expressions of hatred towards the woman are deeply irrational and reflect poorly on your character.

          1. I think your arrogant moralizing, as though you have some special warrant to do so, reflects poorly on your character. You’re inability to empathize with those whose lives were ruined by Maggie’s policies is hypocritical. Are you a Briton? Do you even know what you’re talking about? Saying she was admired by many doesn’t undo the harms she caused. Many still admire that imbecilic borderline sociopath and equally dead Ronald Reagan even though he was a criminal who should have been impeached (then catapulted into the sun). He deserves less respect than Ronald McDonald.

            People continue to admire that fuckwit George W Bush despite the fact that he brought the US to it’s knees and left a legacy of economic ruin and did his best to tear down the Wall of Separation. His theocratic tendencies still haunt us. People who admire him are ignorant. Most of those who admire Reagan & Madge are ignorant as well.

            Further, an argumentum ad populum on a scientist’s/skeptic’s/atheist’s website? Such a logical fallacy will not go unnoticed here.

            1. Well, that was embarrasing, wasn’t it? Not a single substantive sentence in the entire comment. Just another mindless outpouring of hate.

          2. I think your ostentatious expressions of hatred towards the woman are deeply irrational and reflect poorly on your character.

            Your opinion on my moral character is of no interest to me ; my opinion of myself is perfectly happy with digging up the Bitch of Grantham just so I can defacate into her nasal orifice. Unfortunately, she used to have Big Strong Boys from the non-existent branches of the military to prevent that ; but not any more.
            And reading between your lines that you’re in America, I’d have sold you the sow for a handful of mumbles such as promises even back in the mid-70s, before she became both dangerous and powerful. There are plenty of American politicians who’re lined up for the same treatment as Thatcher’s bones are going to get, I’m sure.

            1. …my opinion of myself is perfectly happy with digging up the Bitch of Grantham just so I can defacate into her nasal orifice…

              When exactly did you become such a vicious, hateful human being?

          3. That’s funny. One could say that ostentatious expressions of admiration for the woman are deeply irrational and reflect poorly on one’s character.

            She had some qualities that led to her success and rise to power, qualities that many might admire. But if admiring determination, decisiveness, courage, stubbornness, and hard-minded purposefulness for their own sakes is adequate, one might admire Hitler, Mao, or Stalin for the same reasons. The Kims in Korea are greatly admired by millions. Charles Manson and Ted Bundy had fan clubs. Hell, people admire all kinds of idiot celebrities. I’m not equating Maggie to these, just saying that admiration is no gauge and not a rational argument to invoke.

            Obviously one has to look beyond charismatic qualities that help people gain popularity and power over others, to the purposes that power aimed at. A lot of vigorous and active admiration is based on uninformed emotional response and nothing more, so by itself it means little.

            1. +1

              You could add ‘sincerity’ to that list. People are only too ready to admire a leader who has those qualities, solely for having those qualities and in complete disregard of the aims. IMO those qualities are only meritorious if used for ‘good’ (however we define that); if misused then they are not virtues, not even redeeming, they’re evil.

  7. She did what needed to be done at the time. The UK had been living off huge amounts of debt for a long time and was virtually bankrupt due to the idiocy of nationalising a large amount of the country’s industries, giving the unions unprecedented power leading to regular mass strikes and ridiculous wage demands. The result being rampant inflation and a completely uncompetitive manufacturing sector in a rapidly changing world.
    I think a lot of the problems stemmed from the fact that the changes she made were so radical that a large section of the British population weren’t prepared for them and didn’t understand or accept the need for them. Unfortunately these people were the ones who didn’t have a clue about how much they needed to change their mindset to be able to change focus and adapt to the ‘new world order’. The reality is that a lot of these people had become lazy and dependent on the state keeping them in employment when there were few real, economically viable jobs available.

      1. We’ll see how long that situation lasts. The Scots still have free education while the English now have to pay fees comparable to the best US universities for even less-than-third-rate schools.

    1. Her reforms did modernise the country and we may be better off overall but a lot of people paid one hell of a price for that because she failed to show an ounce of compassion for those lives she destroyed. The end result all these years on is that we’re now a fractured, divided, selfish society of haves and have-nots with the great wealth of our nation captured more than ever by the elite.

    2. The trouble was that she did more than what needed to be done. She over-corrected. (Which seems almost inevitable in two-party politics, the current “coalition” notwithstanding.)


    1. Where are my dancing crampons?
      I don’t have silver tips for them. Would …. yes, I have silver nitrate solution … so spray that on the steel ; plate silver onto the steel ; penetrating wounds ; RESULT.
      I just need some cloves of Garlic to cram into her mouth to fulfil the Stoker prescription for *keeping* *them* *dead*.

  8. She was the greatest British Prime Minister since Churchill but certainly the most maligned for the improvements she instituted, indeed forced, upon her nation. When I, an American, arrived in the UK prior to her taking office the country was on its knees – the ports shut down by industrial action, the electricity supplies cut of for half the day, the economy in shambles, a mood of hopelessness and failure throughout the British public. Union influence, normally a power for fairness and equity, had corrupted itself into a malignant force holding the country at ransom. She broke the union stranglehold, introduced major economic reforms, an rebuilt the UK economy into being one of the worlds innovators and powerhouses once again. She played an absolutely central role in ending the cold war, and bravely ended the agression of an Argentine dictator. She is hated by the left for the very success’ that she achieved.

    1. A very accurate post Howard. I was living in the centre of this leftist nightmare in my home city, described as being the socialist capital of South Yorkshire. When I look back now I see how backward the country had become. It was probably in a worse position than Greece is today. Regular power cuts, the 3 day week, seemingly never ending strikes as well as the rampant inflation that made any kind of investment a virtual impossibility.
      For me the shame comes from the clueless governments in the previous 15 or so years that led to the country being in such a state that such radical action was needed.

      1. ridiculous wage demands

        Can you believe it? The surfs were up to wanting to make as much in a year as a proper person makes in an hour. Completely ridiculous. Why they wouldn’t even have a proper use for it, how much upkeep could there possibly be on the one room boxes they like to live in? And the food they eat, well they better not be fancying paying any more than they already are for that crap. I have no idea why they like it, I wouldn’t be able to swallow it.

        Thatcher was right, the poor had all that extra wealth that needed to be redistributed. Why, the upper class was scraping the bottom of the kettle, on the verge of losing the number 3 weekend estate and the window coverings in number 5 were going on a year old.

        1. You might enjoy the song Ordinary People by Australian folksinger Judy Small. She wrote about all rich people who who struggled to make ends meet in these tough economic times: “…we’ve had to give the second assistant gardener the axe.”

      2. 1 correction each! I’ll go with this one: The 3-day week took place during the Conservative government of Edward Heath (1970- 1974)

        1. Political reasoning is never based on facts. It’s always based on finding the narrative that makes your side look good.

          Even if something occurs during a PMs tenure, that doesn’t mean their policies caused it. In the 70s OPEC was manipulating oil prices, and caused shortages everywhere.

          In the US, this caused incredibly high inflation, for which Jimmy Carter was blamed. In fact Carter hired Paul Volker who ratched up interest rates to intentionally create a recession and crush inflation. That worked according to plan, and even though it saved the economy and setup a roaring recovery in the early 80s, Carter is uniformly blamed for recession and inflation, while Reagan was credited with a recovery he had little to do with directly. Whoever was elected in 1980 would have presided over robust recovery, which was already baked into the economy by central bank action.

          Thatcher and Reagan are elevated largely by myth making, not by real efficacy of their policies.

            1. fact: Opec manipulated prices in the 70s leading to energy shortages around the world.

              fact: Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker as Fed Chairman.

              fact: the causes of high inflaction can be debated, but economists largely agree that high energy prices in the 70s were the most important cause.

              fact: Paul Volcker intentionally ratched up interest rates into double digits, knowing it would cause a recession. The reason was to arrest runaway inflation.

              fact: Jimmy Carter was blamed for many things, including inflation and high interest rates. People who do this blaming don’t generally understand that the interest rates was intentional Fed policy to counteract the inflaction.

              fact: when inflaction had ceased, interest rates were brought way down to stimulate a recovery.

              fact: Reagan did nothing to cause any of this.

              fact: Whoever was elected in 1980 would have presided over the same fed actions, and the same economic results. It was engineered by Paul Volcker. A president could have conceivably ruined the recovery with bad fiscal policy, but that really would have been Congress, not the President anyway.

              1. Yes al, high interest was created by the fed intentionally to stop inflation. Interest rates caused the recession, again intentionally. When recession cooled the inflation, rates were dropped, intentionally by the fed, which unleashed recovery and growth at lower inflation. It had nothing to do with Presidential actions or policies, which didn’t stop people from assigning blame and credit in the wrong places.

    2. … of course she quite liked some South American dictators didn’t she? She helped that murderous scumbag Pinochet evade justice – but then that was probably just because she’d had her own hands drenched in blood too. From the Belgrano, shoot-to-kill, collusion with loyalist death squads, the killings in Gibraltar, the hunger strikes. As for her economic “success” she destroyed more British industry in two years than the Luftwaffe managed in six. She destroyed the British mining industry in an act of political spite and tore communities apart delivering Britain into the hands of the spivs in the City. We’ll celebrate her death the best way – by finishing off the system she represented.

      1. You can’t have it both ways. She sank the Belgrano but she also destroyed the murdering-raping-child-stealing military junta of General Videla.

        So, friendly with dictators? Some, no doubt, as rulers are, but she also overthrew them. Which is more than the left of the time would have done with its ‘sue for peace at any price’ mindset.

        1. She didn’t fucking overthrow any dictators. She hung on to the Falklands (for the oil?) and British soldiers (and Argentinian ones) paid the price. It was the Argentinian people who overthrew their dictators, I doubt they had any help from Maggie. Other than, entirely inadvertently, providing the opportunity.

    3. “She was the greatest British Prime Minister since Churchill”

      – Sorry that is complete and utter nonsense. Clement Atlee set up the National Health Service, the welfare state, universal education, rights for women and children, began the withdrawal from India, among many other things.

      Thatcher is not even in the same league as Atlee when it comes to real long lasting and important British achievements. Just the formulation of the NHS alone would outshine anything Thatcher did.

      1. Clement Atlee was prime minister 1945-51, Churchill was PM both before and after him, 1940-45 and 1951-55. does that make it reasonable to cite Atlee as “since Churchill”

        1. Of course, unless you are referring specifically to Churchill’s completely forgettable and inconsequential second term. But it is clear whenever anyone ever mentions Churchill they are talking about his wartime achievements for that very reason. Otherwise it is a completely vacuous point – “she was the best prime minister since, you know, the one no-one ever remembers/that term that no-one ever remembers.”

          You should have said she was the best PM since Atlee (being the most significant and successful PM directly before her).

          Peace out.

        1. Well, according to her memoirs Thatcher had enormous respect for Attlee as a “serious man and politician”.

        2. So, if socialism is so bad then can you please explain why all of the countries who are top ranked in all of the various studies that measure things like Quality of Living and Human Development Index, have many more “socialist” policies than the US? Which is of course the exception. We usually make the top twenty, but rarely the top ten.

          These studies typically include analysis of many things ranging from political freedom and security, quality of medical care (US ranked a dismal 37th by WHO, though most expensive), literacy, life expectancy, GDP per person, and more.

          If we are the greatest and richest nation on Earth, and if socialist policies are so bad, can you explain those numbers? Even though conservatives have dominated all branches of government for the majority of the past three decades? We are talking many studies by many different organizations, all with similar results.

          Do you have a convincing argument for why anyone should ignore the evidence that clearly indicates that well thought out and executed socialist policies can be very good for society?

          Do you have a convincing argument for why anyone should suppose that the “survival of the most greedy and amoral” type policies that have been favored by US conservatives for the past several decades should suddenly, contrary to thousands of years of history with a multitude of examples to go by, start having better outcomes for the entire society, and not just the top percent or so?

          1. You do not seem to know or realize that Thatcher saved the UK from the worst socialist policies ever seen when she became PM in ’79.

            You are of course welcome to your socialist views and it would seem that the present regime in Washington is hell bent on implementing very socialist policies (and budgets!).

            But maybe I could refer you to the famous summary of socialism: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs”.
            Ayn Rand highlighted the unworkability of this in her books and I believe one of her characters (or maybe someone else) said: “If this adage is true, I shall use all my abilities to press my needs”. Isn’t this what is happening in the US and parts of Europa at the present time – and leading to great economic woes.

            1. Sure I do. So? A concept has to be perfect (investing in a societies people benefits the society as a whole), regardless of its implementation, or else it is so evil that anyone who supports it is worthy of scorn?

              I notice that you didn’t offer any answers to any of my questions.

              1) For every famous saying there is another illustrating an opposing view.

              2) I would never have guessed you were an Ayn Rand fan.

            2. Oh, and,

              “the present regime in Washington is hell bent on implementing very socialist policies (and budgets!).”

              I almost forgot that. When you repeat a claim like this one it really takes away from your credibility and reveals that you have no idea what socialist means. Not surprising really, when so much effort is put into revising the meaning of political labels. Liberal has become the most distorted but socialism is not far behind.

              Obama and his administration are far from being socialists. Based on their actions the Obama admin is arguably less socialist than the Bush Sr. admin, and no question less socialist than any Republican admin prior to that.

              Your choice of words throughout your comments here has been very revealing.

            3. Interesting. So your entire rebuttal to the point that the U.S. lags behind numerous socialist countries in every metric of standard of living, said countries having well-executed socialistic policies, is to first reference bad social policies from 35 years ago and then to quote the Completely Untested Bad Science Fiction Manual For Sociopaths?

              I suppose darrelle’s question in the last paragraph of his/her post became retroactively rhetorical.

              1. So your entire rebuttal to the point that the U.S. lags behind numerous socialist countries in every metric of standard of living

                Huh? What “socialist countries?” What “metrics of standard of living?”

              2. Oh, I don’t know, Gary, how about Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other Scandinavian countries.

                As far as metrics of standards of living, look it up!

              3. Oh, I don’t know, Gary, how about Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other Scandinavian countries.As far as metrics of standards of living, look it up!

                It’s not my job to look for evidence for your claim. That’s your job. As I already noted, the U.S. ranks higher on the Human Development Index than all the Scandinavian countries except Norway. And as I also already noted, Norway is a special case due to its enormous oil and gas wealth (Norway’s affluence is built on pumping carbon into the atmosphere).

                The U.S. also ranks higher than all of these countries on GDP per capita.
                And the Scandinavian nations aren’t “socialist countries,” anyway. They all have market-based, capitalist economies.
                So, again I ask, what “socialist countries?” And what “metrics of standard of living?”

          2. So, if socialism is so bad then can you please explain why all of the countries who are top ranked in all of the various studies that measure things like Quality of Living and Human Development Index, have many more “socialist” policies than the US?

            All *what* countries? The United States ranks number 3 in the Human Development Index, behind only Norway and Australia. Neither of those countries is “socialist,” and both of them achieve their wealth in large part through the combination of a small population and huge natural resources.

            I am amazed that anyone would still seriously try to defend socialism, given its overwhelming record of failure. The old “command socialism” of the Soviet Union and its satellites is dead. And the various forms of “democratic socialism” that were once strong in western Europe have gradually faded, to be replaced by the kind of capitalist, market-oriented policies championed by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagen — privatization of economic sectors and companies previously owned by the state, weakening of labor unions, less regulation of labor markets, more free trade, and so on.

            1. A few things Gary.

              1) Would you like to bet on whether or not Thyshuman considers those countries socialist or not?

              2) Reading comprehension. I said they were more socialist than the US, not that they were socialist governments. They do have socialist policies, and more of them than the US

              3) The HDI is one metric, but I think you know very well that there are many studies just exactly as I described. You should. Many of them have been posted about on this very site.

              3) Small populations and huge natural resources do not make a very good excuse. The US has access to huge natural resources and our population density is not all that high, yet. Are we the greatest country on earth or not? If we are why can’t we be No. 1 instead of 10, or 15, or 37?

              4) You labor over a misconception and tilt at old windmills. I’m sure there are still people who champion the forms of socialist governments you mention, but I am not one of them. And I never said anything in support of anything like that. The only thing I talked about was socialist policies. Are you going to tell me that “socialized” medicine, as in the type of health care pretty much all other advanced countries have, and with which over thirty of those countries use to provide better health care than the US, for less money, that those policies are not socialist policies? If you want to get rid of the term socialist I suppose that is fine by me, but give a little warning first.

              5) It doesn’t have to be all or nothing you know. All or nothing is a mistake that we seem to endlessly repeat. The pragmatic thing to do is to use things that work, and who cares what they are called? And one thing that has been shown to work great, granted when done wisely, is to invest in the population so that they are empowered to contribute as much as possible to society. People like Thyshuman, and possibly you, tend to automatically classify any such policy as socialist = bad.

            2. Re. 1: I don’t care what Thyshuman thinks. He’s wrong.

              Re. 2: I’m not sure what “more socialist” is supposed to mean exactly. For example, Australia ranks higher than the U.S. on the Index of Economic Freedom (Australia is #3, the U.S. is #10). Is a higher ranking of economic freedom “more socialist?” In any case, there are many, many “more socialist” nations below the U.S. The “most socialist” countries in the world are among the poorest — Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, etc.

              Re. your first 3: *You* cited the HDI. As I noted, the claim you made about it is false. Rather than reevaluate your position in light of that correction, you simply ignore your error. A common failing of political ideologues is their refusal to rethink their positions in light of contradictory facts and evidence.

              Re. your second 3: Huh? Norway and Australia have much greater natural resource wealth per capita than the U.S. Australia, with only 22 million people, is the largest exporter of coal in the world. Norway, with only 5 million people, is second largest exporter of gas. The U.S. has 310 million people.

              Re. 4: Again, *you* referred approvingly to “socialist policies.” The Soviet Union and its satellite countries certainly followed “more socialist” policies than the U.S. The now-abandoned “democratic socialist” policies I described that were once common in western Europe — state ownership of industries, inflexible labor markets, restrictive trade policies, etc. — are “more socialist” than the policies of the U.S. Europe has been moving *away* from socialism for 40 years.

              Re. 5: I didn’t say it has to be “all or nothing.” I’m saying that the policies followed by the U.S. have generally produced greatly superior results to the policies of “more socialist” countries. What makes the enormous economic, social and political success of the U.S. even more remarkable is that it is such a huge nation, with such a diversity of subcultures, races, ethnicities, religious groups, etc.

              1. Well, I suppose that’s fine. But, you are either intentionally misrepresenting me or your reading comprehension is poor. Also, you just happen to be wrong.

              2. “…the enormous economic, social and political success of the U.S….”

                You’re joking, right? Have you any idea how many USians don’t have access to basic health care, live in the sort of abject poverty that you obviously can’t even imagine, the bigotry that members of the subcultures, ethnicities, and religious groups you mention continue to suffer from?

                Yes, the non-socialist US is so fucking awesome.

              3. I beg to differ. I’m not wrong, I am always right! And being a liberal, even militant non-theist I do not even mean that in a political sense!

                And as far as the “socialist policies” of the present regime in the USA are concerned, I do believe your president quite recently referred to the need to spread “wealth” more evenly and “fairly”. That is leaning heavily towards socialistic newspeak.

                And I find it strange that ardent supporters of Coyne’s atheism are so vehement in their socialistic tendencies which, as you should know, was the strong dogma and practice of the early Christians as can be seen by Peter’s actions and words in the NT book of Acts of the Apostles. And to this day you find that ardent communists of yesteryear are turning to religion and Christianity – and of course so-called “caring” economic ideas – better known as socialism!

                Maybe you have some closet christians hanging around, Jerry!

    4. That’s pretty much my memory of the 1979 election too. Garbage in the streets and the dead left unburied with the unions running the country into the ground (not sure it’s accurate but it is how I remember it). She did a lot of things that needed doing at the time, in the face of massive protest, and like most absolutists was blind to her failings, including her relationships with dictators. Her certainty in the correctness of her own positions inevitably led to her downfall.

      She clearly moved the country back towards the center right from the far left, and it took Labour four elections to move back to a reasonable and electable position under Blair (which imo didn’t really end up too well – but hindsight is a wonderful thing). I do think the position of Labour from 1979 through the beginning of the John Smith/Tony Blair era represents something of a mirror image of what we see in the current GOP.

      1. Yes, it is a very similar situation and it seems to be a global disaster. As one Australian comedian put it “You’ve crowded them (the opposition) so far to the right that they have no place to go; if they tried to move more to the right they’d fall into the abyss.”

    5. “When I, an American, arrived in the UK prior to her taking office the country was on its knees – the ports shut down by industrial action, the electricity supplies cut of for half the day, the economy in shambles, a mood of hopelessness and failure throughout the British public.”

      When my father visited the UK several times in the 60’s on business, he described the country in much the same terms as you do here. It sounded like a nation that was still punchy and staggering from the effects of WWII.

    6. She broke the union stranglehold

      And I took a personal and somewhat successful interest in breaking her stranglehold against group action at workplaces, after 165 of my colleagues (and 2 “first responders”) died in a very Thatcherite “deregulated” industry. (Run, it should be said, by Americans. Hint : this is not the Gulf of Mexico. Different rules apply.)
      The Bitch of Grantham killed more people than all the serial killers in the English-speaking world, every year she was in power and for years afterwards. And she was a degree-(PhD-?) qualified chemist. Talk about bringing science into disrepute!

  9. I don’t know enough about her to say anything worthwhile, but I will read this thread with great interest. I visited London and Mildenhall at the very beginning of her tenure as PM, but was not paying attention to politics or economics at the time.

    One thing seems evident from even the few responses so far. She seems to have been very polarizing, and to have ruled during troubled times. That seems a very common theme throughout history, a leader in troubled times being very polarizing.

    1. Jawohl, Mein Fuhrer!
      Si, mi Duche!
      Da, “First Secretary”
      Asante, … sorry, my Swahili dictionary is in a different country. But I think my point (general agreement) is made.

  10. Brit here, and though it is commonly (and rightly) seen in bad taste, there is a sort of “Ding dong! The witch is dead. Which old witch? The wicked witch” sort of vibe. Us lefties are bad people right?

    On a more serious note, I couldn’t give a damn.

  11. A spokesman from the hospital described Mrs. Thatcher’s condition as ‘satisfactory’.

    1. What, she’s in the furnace already?
      But Atilla The Stockbroker assured me that the furnace-stokers of Hell had rejected her management buy-out proposal and gone on strike already!
      Burn her (but I want some remains to desecrate!).

      1. According to our (NZ) TV news, the BBC first announced she had died of a *strike*.

        I wish…

  12. She caused great misery to millions of Britons. We opened a specially saved bottle of champagne the minute we heard…..

    1. I have a bottle of Cristal set aside for Dick Cheney. Of course, champagne doesn’t keep forever, so I’ve had to drink the celebratory bottle once or twice. A terrible hardship.

      1. Empty the bottle (you’re doing a quality check, yes?) ; then keep the bottle so you can “probe for weak points” on $INSERT_POLITICAL_TARGET_NAME$ with the (light) empty bottle BEFORE the main hit with the full bottle!

  13. Years back, as very young, very green American tourists, we were enjoying our first Brit pub, in Kenilworth. An older gent sitting at the table next to us struck up a conversation, then asked us, “Well, and what do ya think of our femme?” And that’s how we always thought of Thatcher from that point forward: our femme. One impression we developed of her was that she had considerably more substance than Reagan, though we often wondered at her policies and how they were implemented.

    1. Same as my Mum. (Vasc.Dem.)
      Mum will be levering herself out of her stair-lift and picking fights with lorries in the street. Such an association with the Maggon is not acceptable.

  14. At a party she once spanked Christopher Hitchens for being a naughty boy.

    I don’t know why they left this bit out of the movie with Meryl Streep. Surely this must have been one of the high points of Thatcher’s life?

  15. “….she’d had dementia (probably Alzheimer’s) for some years.” I think she’d had a fascist dementia for many years, since long before she was in office.

    Someone notes above that she ruled in “troubled times”. True but please also note that she largely created the troubles.

  16. Love her (with good reason) or loathe her (with equally good reason) at least she was a leader who wanted to do the right thing rather than be popular.

    Which might explain why all subsequent Prime Ministers just seem… beige.

    1. True: She was no political chameleon like Blair or (to a lesser degree) Cameron. (Major and Brown were brown… er, beige.)

      The “right thing” wasn’t always so.


    2. I’ve heard it so many times – a “leader with conviction” and a “leader who wanted to do the right thing” – but what does it mean? The same can be said of all despots.

    1. The (not-funny) joke is :
      Scotland to England : Can we have our oil revenue back?
      England to Scotland : Errrr, no, we spent it on Thatcher’s Dole queues.
      Shetland to Scotland : can we have our oil revenues back ; we want to cuddle up around a peat fire and learn Norwegian.
      No, I haven’t decided how I’ll vote in the referendum. But I am doing a lot of work in Nogway at the moment, and … they’re not axe-wielding berserkers, y’know? Well, not all of them.

  17. People forget how extreme Labour was in the 1980’s and were, frankly, un-electable. Gerald Kaufman’s comment on the 1983 Labour manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history” was pretty apt. She was also lucky, as Andrew Marr pointed out, in her enemies. Neither Scargill nor Galtieri were/are sympathetic characters and Thatcher took full advantage of that. Her biggest mistake was to go on for far too long and consider herself above normal politics. She wasn’t as her downfall showed. If she had stopped in, say, 1987/8 then she would be remembered rather differently.

    1. If she had stopped in, say, 1987/8 then she would be remembered rather differently.

      I grew up next to a town where the Maggon’s axe men sacked 4000 bread-winners overnight in a town of 15000.
      The town has been rebuilt by … the horrors of the Socialist (evil word ®) European Community.
      “Community” ; now there’s a word to carve on Thatcher’s grave stone. She’ll not be able to re-animate past that!

  18. Until about 5 years ago, when I read a bit more of the policies that she pushed or put in place, I hadn’t realized what a polarizing figure she was for residents of the U.K.

    This morning, when I heard the news, I thought immediately of that short but beautiful song by Chumbawamba on their “The Boy Bands Have Won” album, with lyrics worded as if delivered by Mrs. Thatcher herself, post-retirement:

    When I first came to Commons, Lords
    Life was simple for me
    Took the milk from the children’s mouths
    You’ll get nothing for free
    And if I should sleep
    Bury me deep

    It continues. Earnest agitprop exaggeration, to some extent, but even if it’s conceded that Thatcher introduced necessary reforms, those reforms caused a great deal of suffering for many who (as noted by others on this thread) weren’t ready for it and weren’t equipped to deal with the resulting hardship.

    1. “Took the milk from the children’s mouths”

      Ah — “Margaret Thatcher, milk snatcher!”

      Those of us who detested having to drink the ⅓pt bottle of milk that had been left standing in a warm primary-school classroom for most of the morning remember her more fondly for that.


      1. I combination of my gag reflex and the intervention of my (apparently) scary maternal grandmother got me an early pass on having to drink the revolting stuff. But I still recall the half warm bottles with a churning stomach.

        1. Me too.

          Milk is promoted (specially here in NZ where we have millions of methane-farting global-warming cowshit-dribbling river-polluting … err… cows) as being healthy.

          I think school milk was probably good for my health inasmuch as it was so revolting I’ve never drunk the stuff since (except for the low-fat stuff in coffee). I think my cholesterol levels have benefited muchly from that.

      2. And I recall the white knickers of my infant-school teacher as she bent over to get the bottles out of the tray.
        I didn’t know what an erection was. Then.
        That must date me … mini-skirts … say, 1969 to 1972 (1973, I went to a different town)
        Ohhhh, I feel all pervy. But in a good way!

  19. During the 70’s I worked in a somewhat Dickensian legal firm. Little did I know at the start of the 70’s how much more Dickensian it was to become by the mid 70’s. For major parts of the 3 day week we were working we were reduced to light by candles and the wearing of overcoats at the desk. (Not quite so “much ‘elf n’ safety” in these days so the mass of deeds and papers littering every desk and much of the floor space was less of a problem.)In addition, of course, there was the joy of petrol rationing and by ’78 the need to navigate one’s way around tons of uncollected rubbish and the odd unburied body.
    Mrs T saved Britain from descent into the Third World.

    1. I think a Dickensian legal firm would be one that enriched itself by dragging out cases far beyond what is necessary, creating artificial complexity and delay by avoiding bringing cases to a conclusion using every legal artifice and device imaginable, all for the purposes of billing the client far beyond what should be necessary. Dickens seemed to reserve a special place in hell for lawyers and law firms.

      I wonder how much of the problem you describe had to do with labor unions, and how much had to do with oil embargos and artificial scarcity engineered by OPEC in order to drive up prices. We had petrol (gasoline) rationing in the US in the 70s as well, and it had nothing to do with left politics.

      Now the UK seems barely likely to avoid triple dip recession, high unemployment, wealth, and income inequality (as we do in the US), because of unwise and premature austerity programs designed to placate nervous plutocrats. Is that better than the occasional labor strike? Perhaps, but I’m not so sure that some of Thatcher’s reputation isn’t just wishful thinking and hagiography, as with Reagan in the US.

  20. The year she came to power, 1979, was the year I left school to go to University (the first member of my family ever to do so). As a fairly typical immature lefty student I utterly detested her and her government’s policies throughout her years in office. Now, as a much older and wiser middle-aged bloke, who’s seen how the world works, I would vote for her in a heartbeat if she was restored to vigour and standing for office now. As the old saying goes, “If you’re not a socialist at the age of 20, there’s something wrong with your heart. If you’re still one at the age of 50, there’s something wrong with your head”.

    She did what needed to be done, cutting the unions down to size, and standing up to Argentine aggression and Irish terrorism. Along with Ronald Reagan, she maintained the resolve of the west, which allowed the USSR time to collapse under the weight of its own inefficiency and corruption. Yes, she made mistakes, but what leader doesn’t? Her main detractors, then as now, are people who think that the world owes them a living.

    1. Nice one Dave – and so true. And yes, you are right, her main detractors are people who think that the world owes them a living – and you still find a great number of them – not only in the UK but even more so in the USofA. They all voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12!

        1. Oh, I take that back. There were plenty of people I knew in college with rich parents who never had to work to support themselves.

          These were the most entitled people I’ve ever met, far more entitled than even the crack addicts I’ve met. People who aren’t born rich understand better than anyone that nothing comes for free.

          1. Spot on.

            The bizarre thing is that since Thatcher, so called champion of the striver, the elite have sown things up to such a degree that another Thatcher, only a grocer’s daughter and all, could never happen again in the UK. The whole political class come off the Eton / Oxbridge production line, thoroughly captured by their monied masters and not a pair of bollocks between the lot of ’em!

            1. and not a pair of bollocks between the lot of ‘em

              and tha includes the (genital) females, who also seem to desire several bollocks apiece.
              Are we sure they’re human. (-oid?)

      1. Ugh, the painful ignorance emanating from all of your comments. You’ve truly no idea what you’re talking about, but you’ve no qualms about spouting your ignorance all over the place. So do you identify with that most faith-based of all political ideologies – libertarianism?

  21. As an aside (and for those people who love spy stories), the same person (Oleg Gordievsky) briefed both Margaret Thatcher AND Michel Gorbachev during their meetings!

  22. I’m a lefty and her ‘no such thing as society’ view was cold and heartless. Most of the privatisation program has enriched an elite at the expense of the majority. She started the deregulation of financial services that ended with the biggest economic crash for a century. Having said all that – the unions in the 70’s were determined to destroy the ‘system’ (and everybodys livelihood). They created her and paid the price.

    1. Context is everything. What she said –
      ‘I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.’

      1. None of which alters the fact that it’s delusional, incoherent gibbermush and complete bo*&o%ks. “We are a grand-mother,” indeed. And she talked about herself in the first person plural by around 1984. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

        1. Agreed that ‘we are’ showed how out of touch she was. However as a materialist I have sympathy with a ‘deconstructed’ view of societies as bunches of individuals.

          1. She’s right about the rich tapestry of individuals, and about personal responsibility. But she’s wrong to say there is no such thing as society. I hear this one line echoed by Ayn Rand worshiping libertarian fools too often. One might as well say “there is no such thing as love, there are only chemical hormones and neurotransmitters”. It’s true on one level, but it’s obviously foolish in the context of human life and experience, and certainly not a guide to policy that has real consequences for individual lives.

            There is a spirit in the quote above of JFK saying “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

            That’s fine and good. Clearly there is no society without individuals working and creating it. But when these ideas get carried too far out of balance to say that nobody ever deserves help or assistence to open doors of opportunity, doors that might otherwise be shut, to say that nobody ever deserves a boost to get started or a helping hand (except those born to wealth and privilege), you are actually squashing the potential of many of those individuals to contribute. This is the error of excess on the right. There are also errors of excess on the left.

            And for what is this cruel attitude toward the abstract idea of society adopted? For the sake of another abstract idea, the economic equivalent of the frictionless plain, the foolish projection of moral purity onto the idea of perfect competition in a survival of the fittest economic jungle, ironically a view frequently embraced by those who deny that natural selection created life.

            It is exactly backwards to say life was created intentionally, but that we should not intentionally nurture life in creating our social environment. It is foolish to say we should not intentionally create opportunity, that we should not intentionally seek out optimal ways of deploying resources. This intentionally created social fabric called civilization is what has lifted humanity above brutal competition for reources. In many cases the optimal answer is in fact distributing responsibility to individual choices and initiative. In many other cases better outcomes are possible with some intentional ordering, some central coordination, and some rules to ensure that chaos and injustice don’t run rampant. We need to be smart enough to distinguish such cases, and not mindlessly abandon ourselves to one view or the other. Far too many Thatcher and Reagan admirers are deeply confused about these matters today. They may have provided temporary and limited antidotes to certain excesses of the left, but they didn’t necessarily do it skillfully, and they are not models to move forward with over the long run.

            1. eek! “there is no such thing as love, there are only chemical hormones and neurotransmitters” – but that is exactly what I say! …& whay I am single! 😉

              1. Because you havn’t found the right catalyst to get a good reaction going. 🙂

  23. Friday 12th June 1987, the night after Thatcher’s third general election victory. My 26 year-old mate joins us in the bar of The Trafalgar in Moseley. He opens, “I need a pint. That f*%king woman has ruined the best years of my life.”

    Popular songs on demos in the 1980s:

    What shall we do with Margaret Thatcher?
    What shall we do with Margaret Thatcher?
    What shall we do with Margaret Thatcher earlie in the morning?
    Stick her in a p’lice van, leave it in Brixton
    Stick her in a p’lice van, leave it in Brixton
    Stick her in a p’lice van, leave it in Brixton earlie in the morning.

    Alternative responses:
    Leave her on a crane in a Polish shipyard etc.
    Stick her down a mine with a flying picket etc.

    If you go down to the woods today, you’ll never believe your eyes
    If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a sad surprise
    ‘Cos all the jobs that ever there was
    Have gone for good, forever because
    The Tories couldn’t organise a picnic.

    I remember Michael Foot, laughing at that one on some march somewhere.

    Yes, she was a disgrace to her country, rackety, incapable of planning for the bonanza of North Sea Oil revenues to improve the infrastructure, a greedy privateer-in-chief, the ideological descendant of Elizabeth I, Raleigh and Blackbeard. At least the former two had the moral vertebrae to steal solely from foreigners, she thieved from her own people. But, I wouldn’t wish that death and illness on anyone; condolences to her family.

    1. Now named The Patrick Kavanagh not really IMO a *pub* any more
      Do you still live in the area?
      I live near Acocks Green now
      Email me if you fancy a pint one of these days ~ would be nice to meet a fellow WEITer [click avatar]

    2. But, I wouldn’t wish that death and illness on anyone

      I have family members with that in their heads.
      I actively wish bad things to happen to the members of the Thatcher family. UNLIKE the bible, I’ll restrict it to the Maggon, the children who supported her, and I’ll stop there.
      Reasons are above. Speak ill of the dead? Certainly, if they’ve been murderous divisive dangerous idiots.

  24. I’m pretty sure she is to blame for the 2nd war in Iraq. At the least, I have always connected her in my mind with Dick Cheney’s obsession with launching another war in Iraq. This connection was drawn in my mind some time after the first Iraq war when I watched this PBS Frontline episode [1] where Thatcher says:

    “Now, just look, there is the aggressor, Saddam Hussein, still in power. There is the President of the United States, no longer in power. There is the Prime Minister of Britain who did quite a lot to get things there, no longer in power. I wonder who won?”

    In this episode the film cuts back and forth between Thatcher basically mocking the first Bush administration for not rolling on into Bagdad and Dick Cheney who was giving a very measured and reasonable defense of why they stopped the war when they did. It was a very striking bit of film (that I unfortunately can’t seem to find anywhere).

    I suspect it is not coincidence that that interview was the last time I heard a reasonable and measured Dick Cheney. At all future points he seemed obsessed with going back into Iraq and finishing off Saddam Hussein. Everything I have seen or heard since fits with this picture of a Cheney stung by criticisms of their handling of Gulf I by Thatcher and other hawks and determined to go back there and “be a winner” the next time.

    That’s my take, at least.


  25. I heard about Thatcher on the radio. Plugged into my ipod, set to shuffle: first song that comes up – ‘stamp the dirt down’ by Elvis Costello (a song about waiting patiently for her death). Check and mate, atheists! God must have a strange sense of humour.

  26. During the Thatcher years I was a teacher in a mining community in the North of England. I saw first hand the effect her policies had on the children and their parents. She had some good fortune in that the leaders of the miners were hopelessly incompetent. I cannot mourn her death.

        1. Well, the Grauniad would say that, wouldn’t it.

          Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. A lot of British people may have loathed her, but a greater number seem to have approved of her.

          1. In early 1982 her popularity had been the lowest of any prime minister in British History.

            She probably would have lost her first re-election bid in 1983, and gone down on the books as one of the worst ever, were it not for that old reliable vote getter, jingoism, war, and patriotism.

            Hopefully she thanked the Argentinian junta for starting the war and saving her political career.

            1. In early 1982 her popularity had been the lowest of any prime minister in British History.

              As I said, many British people may have loathed Margaret Thatcher, but far more seemed to approve of her. The Conservative Party, of which she was the leader, was overwhelmingly reelected in 1983, and again in 1987. She lost her leadership position in 1990 with her ill-advised support of the Poll Tax, but the Conservatives were elected yet again in 1992, and her legacy continued.

              The Labour Party had to radically re-invent itself, abandoning the socialist policies it had previously followed, in order to have any chance of winning another general election. Tony Blair’s center-left Labour government of 1997 owed far more to Thatcherism than to the discredited policies his own party had championed twenty years earlier.

              1. One of the reasons she was overwhelmingly elected in 83 and 87, was that the opposition was split, the SDP having left the Labour party. The Tories under Thatcher never gained a majority of the vote, so there’s no evidence to say that “far more” of the population approved her.

                Incidentally, the Marquess of Salisbury was PM for 13 years, leaving office in 1902, so arguably he was the longest serving PM of the 20th century.

                Thatcher was, however, undoubtedly the most significant British PM since Heath.

            2. Exactly the tactic relied on by almost every failing dictator, from Orwell’s Big brother to Saddam Hussein to Dubya. Start a war and the opposition can all be denounced as traitors.
              Extra taxes can be levied on the serfs, workers don’t dare strike, the rich industrialists get richer, it’s win-win (if you’re at the top).

    1. Coal was on the way out & rightly so. It may have made the industrial revolution possible but it was dirty & desperately destructive of the environment. Ask the Scandinavians whose forests were being killed by acid rain.

      1. From what I remember a lot of the coal was replaced by filthier coal from other parts of the world. Some of it produced by child labour. There was a later switch to north sea gas in power stations. This was a disastrous government policy that depleted our gas reserves. We now need to import gas from Russia (let’s hope they don’t turn the taps off during a cold winter). We’re now paying the price with hugely hiked gas and electricity prices. Gas to heat homes can be burned at about 90% efficiency. In power stations you get less than 40%.

  27. To para-phrase Brecht
    Don’t rejoice in her death
    The womb is fertile still, from which she crawled.

  28. Thoroughly vile woman and I’m glad she is dead. Apart from what she did to the English working class, she was also a good friend and business associate of Pinochet…I was sad to hear about Anette Funicello though…I was a big fan of her beach movies. It’s a shame her passing will be overshadowed by that revolting harridan’s death.

  29. It’s disgusting how so many people are praising such a horrible person. The only thing really sad about the news is that it’s 35 years late. Her regressive policies did not ‘fix’ any of the issues of the era and have only paved the way for the erosion of civilized society.

    1. It’s not “35 years late” ; one can only hope that her incontinent senility has been briefly illuminated by moments of “this is me, and … I have my own shit running down my leg … into the VERY expensive carpet. And I organised these mercenary Polish `care givers`”. And … is it time for tea again.No, I want the bitch to suffer. I hope they spent hours trying to “jazz” her bones back into life.
      “Die slowly” is really, really not the last thing you want to hear from my lips. Because I can be a very not-nice person. And I’ve had ideas brewing for the Maggon for decades. Being sharpened. With teeth.

      1. I guess you must feel quite happy to be ranked in the fellowship of those spirits who celebrated and toasted the assignation of Kennedy or the death of FDR.
        In a democracy, politicians only represent the differing views of their constituents – all citizens in common. So in effect you rejoice in the death in anyone whose politics do not agree with your own. What on earth are you doing on a blog that represents the open-mindedness and rationality of the scientific viewpoint?
        And while you’re having that toast to Thatchers death and traduce her memory, perhaps you just might reflect on the comparison between your own trivial and mean achievements versus those of Margaret Thatcher.

        1. Oh, get over yourself! You don’t embrace open-mindedness one bit as evidenced by your ignorant moralizing posts here. Listen, it’s irrational to think hate irrational. Your attempts, such as they are, at arguments have failed miserably. And are you seriously comparing Margaret motherfucking Thatcher with FDR or JFK? The implication is absurd and unbelievable.

          1. And are you seriously comparing Margaret motherfucking Thatcher with FDR or JFK? The implication is absurd and unbelievable

            … and probably deeply insulting to both ends of the equation. The millions who suffered because of FDR’s selling out of Eastern Europe to Stalin might disagree with the equation, and meanwhile no-one has accused the Maggon of being an adulterer like JFK. Who, after all, would touch her?
            Mind you, the Grey One managed it. With Egg-wina, even! Which brought him up in my estimation considerably. Scary prospect!

        2. Kennedy and FDR (they’re the mass adulterer and the guy who sold out Eastern Europe to Stalin, aren’t they?) were before my time, so I can’t comment on their politics.
          I’ve been growing up with the Maggon in my life, watching her malign effects, and looking for a way to inflict vengeance upon her. I rejoice in her death, along with many, many others.

          1. “Kennedy and FDR (they’re the mass adulterer and the guy who sold out Eastern Europe to Stalin, aren’t they?) were before my time, so I can’t comment on their politics.”
            Well grav, the subject that covers the politics of events taking place “before your time” is called History. If you ever bothered to learn something of this subject you just might be able to make an informed opinion on these two individuals…. but still, I somehow doubt it.

        3. I didn’t really care who President Kennedy screwed*, and I was a bit young to appreciate the full import of his assassination.

          *You might want to consult a dictionary for the difference between an assignation and an assassination.

    1. Need I say more?

      If you seriously think it makes sense to judge a person’s entire political career on the basis of a single minor relationship, I guess not.

      1. Oh, a quick Google suggests her support of a right-wing dictator and mass murderer was long-standing and quite consistent with her general political leanings. I don’t just mean right-wing, I mean an attitude that human rights are secondary to ‘fixing’ the economy.

        1. Here’s an article about President Obama visiting Riyadh and meeting with that nice King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The meeting appears to have been very cordial and friendly. Obama spoke of the close relationship between the U.S. and Saudi governments.

          The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as you may recall, is a theocratic monarchy. The country is ruled by a hereditary dictatorship. There are no political parties. No national elections. No free speech. No political rights at all, really. Women are horribly oppressed. Religious minorities are horribly oppressed. Sexual minorities are horribly oppressed. Homosexuality is a crime that carries the death penalty.

          What were saying about Margaret Thatcher supporting evil dictators?

          1. Two things: First – I’m not aware that Obama has specifically defended Abdullah against human rights allegations. It sounds like one of those diplomatic meetings all leaders engage in, I expect Obama (or Dubya in his day) would say the same on meeting, say, Putin.

            Second – while I regard Obama as preferable to the batshit insane Rethuglican loonies, he (like most US politicians) is still distressingly far to the right of most of the civilised world. So, not a very useful example to use against my position. : )

          2. This Saudi example, coming as it does from such a dogged defender of the right wing, has a deep irony.

            If the President didn’t engage in such diplomacy with Saudi Arabia, but instead denounced the suppression of women’s rights, the lack of democracy, the oppression of religious minorities, and set up an economic boycott and divestment program to pressure Saudis into liberalizing their politics, we know who would scream the loudest about hurting business in order to pursue flaky left wing ideals of political correctness.

            It has always been the right who ignore human rights, or who diminish their importance, as long as the resources are flowing, and as long as a stable predictable regime that is friendly to the West is in place.

            By stable, of course, we know is meant a regime that uses brutal force, backed by weapons and training from the US, to prevent popular movements from threatening the status quo, especially if those movements have even a slightly socialist character, in that they express as a goal the wish for local residents to share more fairly in a greater portion of the country’s wealth of natural resources.

            Both Reagan and Thatcher opposed boycott and divestment sanctions against the South African apartheid regime because it would hurt business. They supported Pinochet because it was good for business. And this same repressive strongman approach during the Cold War helped create the awful political situation that exists in the Middle East today.

            We can’t really predict how things would have gone had the West taken a more serious attitude toward democracy and human rights, rather than simply a pro-business anti-communism authoritarian approach. Carter tried to initiate such a change, but events moved against him, such as the backlash from the 50s right wing overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian President and the decades of Western support of an authoritarian dictator living lavishly off the country’s oil revenues. Ironically the right tried to blame this on “projecting weakness” by talking about human rights, rather than acknowledging it was caused by long simmering resentment toward policies championed by the right.

            To see Obama criticized for continuing historical right wing policies in Saudi Arabia is really rich, especially coming from such an enthusiastic supporter of the right. It also betrays the phony contention of the right that Obama is a radical left wing socialist who is a boy in over his head (a very racist characterization popular on the right), and who doesn’t understand the first thing about business, capitalism, and free enterprise.

          3. First – I’m not aware that Obama has specifically defended Abdullah against human rights allegations.

            The human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are not mere “allegations.” They’re a matter of public record. Women, for example, are not allowed to vote. They’re not even allowed to drive. Yet the U.S. and Britain and other western nations largely turn a blind eye to them. So spare us your hypocritical, sanctimonious drivel about Thatcher’s supposed sin of cozying up to dictators. All western leaders cozy up to dictators.

            Second – while I regard Obama as preferable to the batshit insane Rethuglican loonies, he (like most US politicians) is still distressingly far to the right of most of the civilised world.

            More absurdity. The intensity of criticism of the U.S. seems to be inversely proportional to the level of knowledge and rationality of the critic.

          4. Both Reagan and Thatcher opposed boycott and divestment sanctions against the South African apartheid regime because it would hurt business.

            Thatcher and Reagan, along with many other people, including many on the left, argued that the sanctions would do more harm to their intended beneficiaries than good. Economic sanctions and boycotts are a very blunt instrument for effecting political and social change.

            1. In light of history I think we can add something, which is that those who argued that way argued incorrectly.

              If South Africa were not made into an international pariah, we may still have the old white minority rule.

              Shaming South Africa in the International community was the tough love they needed to understand that their way of doing things was not welcome in the world, and neither sustainable nor acceptable. This is the kind of tough discipline conservatives are supposed to understand. Except that the one thing right wingers can’t tolerate is placing any social or moral good above their number one priority, which is wealth and profit.

              So now remind me then why Republicans are not willing to invest in Cuba, because doesn’t the economic embargo do more harm to the intended beneficiaries than it does good? The imposition of economic sanctions on Cuba is far more severe than anything imposed on South Africa. At least Cuba treats its citizens equally.

      1. No she bloody didn’t. The Argentinians got rid of Galtieri. Do you suppose she gave a stuff for the people of Argentina?

        If Galtieri hadn’t tried to take back the Malvinas, then so far as Maggie would have cared, he could still be happily in power, maybe even sharing cups of tea with her like Pinochet.

        1. Well I am not a Thatcher apologist so I am not about to defend her, & her government ignored defence of “that little ice-cold bunch of land down there” when they wanted to save money.
          I have no wish to argue about the rights or wrongs of invading other countries, but I think “take back the Malvinas” is a phrase that I would remove ‘back’ from that phrase.

      2. One could just as easily say that Galtieri saved Thatcher’s political bacon. Before the Falklands War, Thatcher and Galtieri were both destined to go down.

  30. She got elected in the first election I got to vote in. What followed was two decades when we milked the North Sea for all the oil & gas we could in a profligate manner. She sold off all the Nationalised assets & did not give them equally to the electorate. In the words of Harold MacMillan quoted in the Torygraph –
    ‘”First of all the Georgian silver goes. And then all that nice furniture that used to be in the salon. Then the Canalettos go.” Referring to the sale of British Telecom and British Gas, Macmillan said: “They were like two Rembrandts still left.”‘

    Now the UK is a world of service industries.

    She was a Methodist by upbringing & a scientist by training – she put the air into whippy icecream when she worked in industry.

    She warned about climate change

    However I am indifferent to her demise. She was an old lady.

  31. As usual nothing is black and white (except the Evolution/Creotardism debate).
    Didn’t care for her decimation of manufacturing and the miners (yet look at Scargill trying to screw the NUM for his luxury retirement, not to mention the worse haircut this side of Donald Trump) but in many ways the unions were too powerful & screwing the ordinary people. Who wants to go back to streets piled with rotting rubbish?
    Politically, i couldn’t stand her BUT she was one of the first world leaders to recognise the threat of global warming.
    Love her or loathe her she has made an indelible mark in history.

    1. An old joke in the mining industry is:
      “Arthur Scargill started the Strike with a large union and a small house, and ended the Strike with a small union and a large house.”

  32. During her time, the cost of studying in the UK went up. The tuition fee for foreign student hiked to the skies. Self funding students suffered the most. RIP Margaret Thatcher. Prayers for your family.

  33. And don’t forget her link with the tobacco industry. This was published in Scope (Stanford Medicine). Full article at:-
    “Shortly after she left 10 Downing Street, in a deal brokered by her son, Mark, Britain’s first woman prime minister became a shill for the tobacco industry, specifically Philip Morris. Jackler pointed me to a treasure trove of internal documents at the Legacy Foundation Documents Library detailing the Iron Lady’s partnership with the American tobacco conglomerate.”

  34. This is going to be a long post – my apologies in advance. But as an American, and an Anglophile, who has lived in Britain for the past 40 years I think I can provide a certain perspective for those on “both sides of the pond” on the conflict and vitriol instigated by Margaret’s death.
    In my view there is a festering wound in the British body politic, an incredible hatred of the ideas/ideals of the right by those on the left. It is not just the same conflict that exists in the States, which is an argument over fairness of distribution of wealth and the appropriateness of the depth of social services… it is class hatred. Here in Britain the left truly hate the middle class and middle class ideals – which they see as greed, privilege and lack of compassion. It is NOT like the States,where the complaint of the poor is that they deserve a much fairer chance of becoming an affluent member of the middle class themselves – a complaint about a system that inhibits social mobility. In economic terms the attitude of the left in Britain produces a policy of beggar-thy-neighbor to try to achieve social equality – not to achieve any actual fairness in the distribution of wealth really – but instigated because you actually hate your middle class neighbor.
    Thatcher’s great crime, for which she is truly hated, is that she restored an affluent and successful middle class.
    Younger British posters on this thread have no idea of how dire things were when my wife and I first arrived in the UK. The ports were closed by the dockers, the electricity supply was available only half the day because of arbitrary miners “actions”, garbage littered the streets because of striking council workers (the dead were actually left unburied). It was union power gone mad, gone malignant. Politicians, both Labour and Tory, had no solution to these problems but were swept along by events. Economically, the government had a hand in just about everything (which would have been ok if it worked, but it DIDDN’T work). Your phone actually belonged to the government, not yourself… if you damaged it, you committed a misdemeanor. Then came Thatcher. She broke the unions – they needed breaking. She privatized ownership of previously government owned business – they needed flexibility and customer orientation. She laid out a basis of investment in the stock exchanges (the Big Bang). She kept Britain out of the euro, thank god. She restored a sense of pride in being British. Aside from the economics, she played a pivotal role in ending the cold war.
    When two work chums and myself thought about jumping into the blue and forming our own company, with all the risks involved, we felt that things had changed so much for the better (due to Thatcher) that it was worth a go “even in Britain”. We started our own company and ended up with a payroll of 500. The company is still going strong. There were tens of thousands of such startups, I met any number of MDs who said they wouldn’t have a company but for Thatcher. So I’m very very biased.
    If you think my American political position is that of a Republican – you’de be wrong. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. My hope is that Obama can partly reform the problems of equity and fairness in American society before the disadvantaged turn to the sort of class hatred that poisons Britain.
    Sorry to have rabbited on so much, it is a subject that is much on my mind at the moment.

    1. So you’ve made your pile, thanks to Maggie. Guess you think all Britain needed was to be more like the US. You might be a Democrat in the US – that puts you to the right of most of Europe. Seriously. That ain’t left-wing credentials.

      I don’t think most of the British posters on this site would accept your view of British society. Your perspective is warped. And patronising.

      1. Well actually, most of the people working in our company also “made their piles” when the company was sold… Thatcher had reformed the tax system to allow employees to at last hold long term stock options without penalty – worker part-ownership…. supposedly a long a dream of the left, if you will.
        As for being more like the US, the UK could well do without its class hatreds and be more American in that sense.
        Finally, there is no point in thinking that just by being left-wing makes one’s views automatically correct, that the right has no valid argument or concerns, or in vilifying the right for the position they adopt as is done with Thatcher. I do find in rather amazing (and discouraging) that so many individuals who profess to the open minded standards of scientific thought are hardly any different from any doctrinaire creationist when it comes to political debate.

        1. If your workers shared in your profits, then good for you. But if you read this thread I think you’ll find plenty of reasons why people detest Maggie Thatcher, including many of those actions you quote with approval.

          I never suggested being left-wing makes views correct, but why then did you bring up being a Democrat?

          I’ll concede you one point – “Here in Britain the left truly hate the middle class and middle class ideals – which they see as greed, privilege and lack of compassion.” Yes.

          1. What I’m essentially saying is that Thatcher dealt with political issues and political problems with a recognition of REALITY, reality about the nature of the problem, the practicality of possible solutions, and recognition of the reality of human nature itself. What is fundamentally wrong with the extreme left is that they are idealistic to the point of absurdity, producing idealistic impractical solutions that are doomed to failure or corruption because they go against our very nature. We find the resultant effect of this in the creation of an elitist, privileged and almost hereditary oligarchy running a horribly ineffectual economy in past communist states. The end result would appall Marx.

            Thatcher was trained as a scientist, and that discipline certainly seems to have underpinned her very pragmatic approach to political issues. Take the issue of employee involvement in a company, which we touched on. The left at Thatcher’s time certainly wanted, even demanded, worker involvement in all corporate entities – the method proposed… a legal requirement for participation of union representatives on all operating Board of Directors. The effect – bringing the conflict and disagreement of the shop-floor directly into the everyday management and planning of the business. Thatcher’s approach was actually much more radical, and much more realistic. Take the fetters off giving “free” shares to employees (in the form of stock options) and remove the onerous tax implications of such a gift that were established by Labour governments. The motivation of worker and employer becomes one and the same – shared prosperity through the firms commercial success. That certainly helped our company to be successful. This concept (and its benefits) was extended to expanding share ownership for the general public at large, ownership which hardly existed in the UK before Thatcher.

            You are a Darwinian, or you wouldn’t be on this blog. Selection is at the individual level – influences can extend to kin, and even beyond if reciprocity is involved, and there exists a certain layer of empathy and sense of fairness, which lies in our nature because we are advanced social animals. In other words we are basically greedy – the struggle for existence and evolutionary forces that has produced our nature. Capitalism recognises greed. We cannot reengineer or repress human nature; we can only harness our acquisitive self-interest in way that can produce the maximum well being for the maximum number of people. We can establish ease of social mobility to ensure that everyone’s acquisitive nature is dealt with fairly. Recognizing the fundamentals of our drives, we can establish economic systems which maximize the creation of available wealth and resources. We can look after the less fortunate from this basis and thus satisfy “the better angels of our nature”. What is the point of hating the nature of being human, as you seem to do?

            Thatcher was most of all a realist. A realist with some brilliant talents and a strength of character to make a difference and to improve society.

            1. A realistic view of human nature, including its greed, is exactly why the laissez-faire free market solutions that emphasize deregulation or self-regulation are doomed to create injustice, lead to unstable and wildly fluctuating markets, and result in an elite oligarchy or plutocracy controlling the vast majority of wealth and resources, which actually hinders growth and upward mobility.

              Thatcher may have been realistic about existing problems, but I think she lacked good insight into what sustainable solutions were. Instead she over-corrected with an equally ideological and impractical approach that unfairly benefitted a different elite. Perhaps some crumbs fell off the table for those in the right position, such as yourself.

              It seems to be that a mixed-model economy, as we see in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and many other social-democracies with well regulated market-based economies may be the most practical and just solution to balance the tendency of pure left or right wing solutions to go off the rails. It makes sense that some aspects of producing goods and marshalling resources are best done with a distributed system utilizing individual initiative, while others benefit from centralized coordination and cost efficiencies derived from economies of scale. Making widgets, gadgets, or gizmos and defending a country’s health or security are completely different jobs that demand different approaches.

              1. I can’t really disagree with you much that you say here Jeff. In a healthy vibrant and balanced economy a very nuanced equilibrium between central government services/regulation and industry/finance needs to be constantly tuned. Perhaps Thatcher would have been a poor Prime Minister in such an environment. Can’t say. But that is not what she inherited. What she inherited was crisis of the first magnitude, a crisis on so many fronts – I’ve already described the state of affairs when she came to office and I did not exaggerate. The thing is, that for all their intelligence, political skills, determination and leadership qualities very very few political leaders are capable of dealing with such a crisis –of being able to ultimately control events and not just be a victim of events. FDR and Churchill were such leaders. So was Thatcher.
                Cameron was right in starting his eulogy yesterday in Parliament when he said “cometh the hour, cometh the man” (in this case woman). As for the hatred and vitriol expressed by the left wing elements of British society who harp on about how “Thatcher ruined Britain” I can only say that it is rather churlish to rant on about the very one doctor who was able to save the life of a dying patient if, in retrospect, the prescriptions he/she used could possibly have been a little more nuanced.

            2. Yes I’m a Darwinian, but I don’t confuse ‘is’ with ‘ought’. To paraphrase Dawkins, because evolution is often ruthless and cruel doesn’t mean we have to be too. We have the brains to be better.

              Oh, and I totally reject the arrogance of claiming that those who share ones own point of view are ‘realists’.

              Enough, I’m not going to get into an essay-writing competition.

    2. Here is a pretty good discussion about Thatcher’s economic impact.

      Being decisive and certain of one’s self is not necessariliy a substitute for being informed and exercising wisdom. Because the lady wouldn’t turn, it doesn’t mean she made the right choice, though it was the stuff of myth and legend for her eulogizers.

      And a favorite canard of the right is to say that tax cutting is good because people know how to spend their money better than the government. I think a moment’s reflection on the kind of stupid stuff people do with their money throws that one into serious doubt. Of course people should be entitled to their money, but if they want to also enjoy the benefits of infrastructure, education, communication, rule of law, security, health, and the many other supports we tend to ignore and take for granted as if they were oxygen, supports that make it easier for people to create businesses and persue their dreams, they also are obligated to pay the bills.

      It seems Norway took the wiser approach to managing oil revenues, while Thatcher took the rigidly ideological and foolish approach.

      1. Jeff, from the article you gave a link to “One of the biggest experiments in UK macroeconomic policy turned out to be a disastrous failure. As GDP fell by over 2% in 1980, and remained flat in 1981, and manufacturing output fell by 15% in two years”. That’s pretty much how I remember it. The north and Scotland never recovered from the hammer blow to manufacturing. That’s why hatred for her runs so deep. I think this excellent song, written in the wake of the devastating monetarist experiment, should be played at her funeral. Jusat to add a bit of balance. ‘Life ina northern town’

    1. Enjoyed it. I wouldn’t argue with Glenda Jackson ; )

      What I enjoyed even more, though, was the speaker’s reply when Sir Tony Baldry attempted to raise a point of order that only tributes should be allowed. It’s a classic putdown, carefully enunciated.
      “I am grateful to the honourable gentleman for his – and I use the term advisedly – attempted Point of Order. Let me be explicit for the benefit both of the honourable gentleman and of the house. All … members take responsibility for what they say in this place. It is the responsibility of the chair to ensure that nothing unparliamentary occurs. Let me assure the honourable gentleman, for the avoidance of doubt, that nothing unparliamentary has occurred.”

      As a connoisseur of putdowns, I want to frame this one and hang it on my wall.

  35. As a fair number of posters on this thread seem to have been so keen to post selected links to personalities of the left banging on about the wicked greedy nature of their acquisitive countrymen and the wicked witch Thatcher who seems to be wholly responsible for all this greed, I thought it might be useful to post a link of my own. It’s a British Channel 4 documentary on Thatcher’s politics and achievements – pointing out the fact that she was a transformative revolutionary leader – not only against the established political agenda of the left, but against that of the established right as well. Well worth a look if any of you aren’t absolutely too self-righteously closed-minded that you just can’t bear to listen to the other side of an argument.

    I’ve always been amused by the fact, that of the fairly large number of people I have come to know of a far leftish persuasion- whether it be the leftish poor or whether the leftish quite-well-off, that they all feel that the cutting line above which all this greedy behaviour exists, and where they feel that penalising taxes should thus be introduced, is just a cut above where THEY are particularly positioned in the economic scale. Of course I must admit that this sort of “selfish-gene behaviour” is only to be expected in people by any Darwinian such as myself… I find it particularly distasteful to witness this Darwinian behaviour when it is combined with hypocrisy.

    1. I’m not sure you are a Darwinian. Have you even read ‘The Selfish Gene’? – I don’t think Dawkins means by that phrase what you seem to think it means.

      1. Gosh… “The Selfish Gene” is literally my bible!
        What it says:
        That evolutionary selection is fundamentally based at the genetic level, and that the fundamental “strategy” which drives any gene is “selfishness” -(self interest in promoting the genes own reproductive success against alternative competitor genes). This maps out to producing a fairly similar “selfish strategies” in any resulting phenotype that genes may construct, but also with implications for kin that might share common genes. What this means is that we are innately acquisitive, hoarding resources to promote our own and our kins survival. STILL in a social context we really can cooperate and even be altruistic but always consistant with the fundamental selfish goals of our genes. What we CAN’T do is STOP being selfish, and any political system that attempts this must either be horribly repressive or else a total failure.

        1. The mulish political philosophy of the adolescent oedipal rich boy: the slavish worship of the established fact; the Sagan of the is, the Solomon of the ought and the Solon of the how; on the x-axis from right to wrong you’re to the left of the y-axis.

          If you want to stand up for your class, fine, go ahead. Don’t pretend that there is any analogy between the natural world and politics, no-one believes that anymore. Tiresome Thatcher-idolatry in the extreme. Read Plato.

          1. Does anyone of the left ever try to go beyond senseless ad hominem attacks and actually make any effort to debate?
            The very one point you did attempt to make- that human behaviour and it’s political consequence has no relationship to the natural world is contradicted even in the Plato that you suggest I need to read…. if not all of Biology, Sociology, Anthropology and Evolutional Psychology.

              1. “Never ascribe just to malice that which is fully explained by incompetence”

              2. What ever political stance it is that you adopt, it isn’t clear, it seems to be based on hate. Maybe a more laid back approach would win you more converts, along with a better explanation of exactly what it is that you do stand for.

        2. “Gosh… “The Selfish Gene” is literally my bible!”

          I think you meant ‘metaphorically’, but Ant already noted that.

          I misread ‘selfish-gene behaviour’ to imply the common misconception of a ‘gene for selfishness’, hence my snarky and incorrect query.

          However, misusing Selfish Gene to try and justify right-wing economics is almost as old as trying to use Darwinian evolution. ISTR that Dawkins has emphasised that, notwithstanding our genes are guided solely by self-interest and Darwinian evolution is frequently cruel and ruthless in its results, that doesn’t mean we have to be. We have the power of thought and if society can’t do better than that it’s not worth having.

    2. I’ve always been amused by the fact, that of the fairly large number of people I have come to know of a far leftish persuasion- whether it be the leftish poor or whether the leftish quite-well-off, that they all feel that the cutting line above which all this greedy behaviour exists, and where they feel that penalising taxes should thus be introduced, is just a cut above where THEY are particularly positioned in the economic scale.

      I don’t think this is true. This is the kind of self-justifying rhetoric the right wing likes to repeat.

      What about Bill Gates, who has come out in favor of the inheritance tax being preserved and in fact increased?

      And Gates also has pledged to donate half his fortune to charity, together with Warren Buffet?

      Buffet has criticized the American tax code as too leniant on billionaires, citing the fact that his secretary pays a higher percentage of income in taxes than he does.

      Both of these men have asked to be taxed at a higher level. Bill Clinton has asked that he be taxed at a higher level, as has the President.

      Perhaps, in spite of your cynicism, there are a lot of people left of center who, actually understand that a system where everyone is out for themselves is weaker than one that makes provisions for a broad based prosperity (re-read John Donne’s Meditation XVII). Some progressive taxation and redistribution, in the long run, makes for a healthier more vibrant economy with healthy consumer demand, which is what the wealthy need to operate thriving businesses. Today, as the American middle class erodes, businesses are taking up the slack with globalization. Someday the US economy will be gutted if that persists, while those with global financial reach will skate.

      In the US our economic system has been redistributing wealth upward for 30 years at least. The productivity gains are all going to the wealthiest, leaving the wages of workers stagnant or declining. If minimum wage were adjusted to receive a proportional amount of productivity growth, it would be $22/hour right now.

      So the rich are getting richer at a faster and faster pace, while the poor linger behind. The inevitable result of continuing in this way would be a small class of aristocrats owning everything, and a vast peasent class. This would be bad for business.

      I for one, and I think the majority of Democrats as well, am quite willing to pay higher taxes to live in a society that places upward mobility, general health and welfare, education, research, and robust public infrastructure as the first priority. I don’t want to live in a jungle that heaps astronomical rewards on the most aggressive and callously self-interested, with the help of a rigged tax and patent system tuned to optimize the earnings of a rentier class, while leaving those not born into privilege with fewer and fewer opportunities to rise out of poverty.

      I don’t care how brilliant or clever or shamelessly brazen and psychopathic a person may be, there are none who actually merit hundreds or thousands of times the returns on their efforts than ordinary workers receive for theirs. The system of rewards in our economy is skewed. People are not valued fairly. Instead the system is rigged heavily in favor of a wealthy minority, and shifting further and further toward market based health care and education will only make that worse.

      1. Well put Jeff. Can anyone seriously maintain that the post Thatcher enrichment of the elite has given us a better society. Thatcher brought american style reward distribution to the UK. Pre Thatcher our top executives earned 20 times the average earnings within their companies. This rapidly climbed to american levels of 200x average earnings. Apologies if this ‘viral’ video has already been posted!

        One other thought. Harold Wilson wasn’t given a state funeral for keeping us out of the Vietnam war.

      2. We are not comparing apples with apples here Jeff. The situation in the UK and that in the States are not the same. The reason I can be a Democrat as a US citizen but a Tory as a UK resident is not that I am schizophrenic (though some posters here would accuse me of that) but that my political persuasion and value system (slightly right of center) is exactly the same in both countries. I believe that a strong and thriving middle class and conditions that favours the social mobility for the poor to gain entrance to this middle class and beyond is essential in a sound (as well as a fair) economy. I totally share your concerns that this is NOT the case in the US AT THE MOMENT and that the situation there is deteriorating. The tax rates in the US for the wealthy are obscenely low especially taxation on very high investment income- e.g. Romney paying 14% on $20 Million income behind $300Million net worth). You claim that a number of US billionaires wouldn’t mind a tax hike – no wonder! So we are not far apart in our views re: the USA.

        Now for the UK. Though the situation here is much improved, thanks to Thatcher, things are still substantially different. Capital gains tax is 28%, top income tax 45% and inheritance tax much more restrictive and inflexible. Still, I don’t feel this is onerous. BUT THIS WAS NOT THE CASE BEFORE THATCHER. When Thatcher came to power in 1979 the top tax rate was 83%. There was no possibility of share ownership in incentive schemes from a tax point of view. The positive improvements in the UK are wholly due to the incentivisation of rewards for effort and investment, Aljones posts “Thatcher brought american style reward distribution to the UK.” Damn right she did –that is what saved us. Labour however says these rates need a gross adjustment upward.

        Let’s touch on the subject of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial activity is essential for economic well being, for economic growth and for sustained national employment. What makes a person jump ship from the world of the employed, risk his/her own personal fortune (start-up failure rate is over 30% in just the first few years alone and continues high), risk destroying ones unblemished CV and future earning potential? It is the chance of a quantum improvement in ones financial well being – pure risk and return- with some attendant enjoyment (and worry) of being ones own boss.

        In all of this, public attitude is very important. If your neighbours call your natural ambition to better yourself and your families situation greed, how productive to economic growth is that? If you are hated and vilified because you have moved to a despised middle class, why bother? The US IS different, class hatred is not a factor there – YET.

        I do strongly suggest you watch the Channel 4 video I posted before forming your views on the UK. Get a dose of reality.

  36. To be fair HK wasn’t making a case for the moral correctness of Social Darwinism, quite the opposite, I think.

    I saw the video HK posted on channel 4 and it did appear a bit partisan in favour of Thatcher. That being said, having lived through her reign, there’s no doubt the UK needed something pretty dramatic at the time.

    Perhaps one can think of MT in a similar way to radiation treatment for cancer. The patient didn’t die, but the doctors (Blair…) responsible for England’s convalescence were so hypnotized by the success of the therapy that they failed to moderate it after the crisis had passed.

    1. Thank you both very much for taking the trouble to read my earlier posts where I really think I had made it abundantly clear that the strategies of purely “selfish genes” will also directly lead to altruism where kin are involved and to cooperative relationships for social animals such as ourselves, including a developed sense of fairness and empathy that can enhance social cohesion. We do not have to ‘overcome’ the nature of our genes (even as Dawkins seems to imply at the close of “The Selfish Gene”) there is plenty of scope in the effects of reciprocal altruism to build what we would see as a moral and just society. But we must also recognise, is that selfish genes lead to human behaviour having fundamental propensities to self-interest, in particular in having aspirations to acquire resources which will improve ones own and ones families well being. To label these tendencies as “selfish” is to label all human nature as selfish – even such affects as parental affection. What an effective economic/political system must seek to do is work with and harness these innate tendencies to produce well being for the maximum number of members of a society. You cannot achieve this by substantially disincentivising acquisitive behaviours, or by creating a system where social mobility is restricted. What I do argue is that Thatcher’s politics and economics are totally realistic in recognising and harnessing these aspirations to achieve a social good as well as a vibrant economy capable of sustaining its citizens, when compared to the solutions proposed by Socialism.

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