Casting around for some interesting thoughts about Margaret Thatcher, who has died, and whose body is being cremated later today, I found this letter in The Independent from Dr. Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance. It's a largely dispassionate summary of a remarkable political career but offers (I think) an alternative to Tory obsequies and the sour miserabilism of the Left. The Independent gave Gabb's letter the headline Savage look at the Thatcher legacy. The version below comes from the LA website, which can be found here: http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/author/seangabb/
Savage look at the Thatcher legacy.
Much will be said over the next few weeks about the “achievements” of Margaret Thatcher. These will probably divide between Daily Mailish eulogies and Guardianesque whines. My view is that she was a bad thing for Britain.
She started the transformation of this country into a politically correct police state. Her government behaved with an almost gloating disregard for constitutional norms. She brought in money-laundering laws that have now been extended to a general supervision over our financial dealings. She relaxed the conditions for searches and seizure by the police. She increased the numbers and powers of the police. She weakened trial by jury. She gave executive agencies the power to fine and punish without due process. She began the first steps towards total criminalisation of gun possession.
She did not cut government spending. Instead, she allowed the conversion of local government and the lower administration into a system of sinecures for the Enemy Class. She gave central government powers of supervision and control useful to a future politically correct government. Her encouragement of enterprise never amounted to more than a liking for big business corporatism. Genuine enterprise was progressively heaped with taxes and regulations that made it hard to do business.
Big business, on the other hand, was showered with praise and legal indulgences.
Indeed, her privatisation policies were less about introducing competition and choice into public services than in turning public monopolies into corporate monsters pampered by the state with subsidies and favourable regulations, corporate monsters that were expected in return to lavish financial rewards on the political class.
She hardly cut taxes. She ruthlessly pushed the speed of European integration. Her militaristic foreign policy and slavish obedience to Washington mostly worked against the interests of this country.
The one war she fought that might have some justification was only necessary because her own colleagues had effectively told the Argentine government to invade the Falkland Islands.
Before her, trade unions were run by working-class people who used the strike and violence to achieve their ends. She ensured that the unions were taken over by the usual Enemy Class graduates.
Forget Margaret Thatcher as some hero of our Movement. She was, at best, the midwife of the New Labour Revolution. She did not just make the world safe for New Labour – she created New Labour. Without her precedents and her general transformation of our laws and institutions, Tony Blair presiding as Prime Minister would have been impossible.