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Death of a class war enthusiast

Thatcher was a deeply divisive figure, which is why she will be lionised in much of the South of the country and reviled in most of the North. In hard and difficult times the British people will rally to a unifier, whether Churchill in wartime or Attlee in constructing a peace that would not return to the 1930s. But Mrs. Thatcher was different: a class warrior who took the fight to her opponents and pursued a scorched earth policy to destroy them, and in the course of it destroyed much of the economic, industrial and social fabric of the country, leaving a legacy from which the country still suffers.

Her deregulation of finance launched an uncontrolled credit boom which led ultimately to the financial crash of 2008 and now the austerity by which we are still crippled. Her shock therapy directed at the country’s industrial base left British manufacturing, the economy’s lifeblood, gravely weakened leading to a disastrous deficit on our balance of trade – an unprecedented deficit in traded goods of £112bn last year. Her unleashing of unfettered markets left Britain bereft of any serious industrial strategy, from which we have still not recovered. Her contempt for society, of which she said there was no such thing, tripled unemployment (to 3.2 million) and tripled child poverty, as well as opening up the chasm of inequality which has reached such grotesque magniture today.

She is often credited with ‘saving Britain’. It is true that closing down whole industries and sacking hundreds of thousands of employees produces higher productivity within the hugely diminished core that is left. But that is a brutal one-off medicine that even if it doesn’t kill the patient cannot be administered twice. It is a totally different policy from the much more long-term successful German way which is constant steady improvement in skills training, enhanced labour and management productivity, a stable industrial relations focused on joint objectives, and a relentless industrial strategy concentrated on the nation’s greatest assets.

She didn’t save Britain because the fundamental problems are still with us. She didn’t change the short-termism of the City nor the banks’ lack of interest in Promoting British industry, a marked contrast to the banking-industrial partnership in the highly successful German Mittelstand. She did not increase investment as a share of GDP. She actually promoted, on the basis that the market knows best, the reckless selling-off abroad of so many of Britain’s prize industrial assets. Above all, the wounds remain is so many desolated working class communities which are now being victimised because they’re not in work when in fact there are no jobs available.

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