Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Margaret Thatcher on Socialism


“Looking Ahead: The Next Ten Years”
from “Speech to Conservative Central Council” by Margaret Thatcher (1986)

There has been the odd report recently that Thatcherism has run its course, and is on its way out.

As an informed source close to Downing Street, I have to report that those reports are eyewash. We're only just beginning.

We've barely got past the stage of excavation, let alone of topping out!

You may feel that the first seven years of Conservative Government have produced some benefits for Britain.

And so they have.

But the next seven are going to produce more—many more.

And the next seven after that, more still.

Let me tell you why.

Conservatism is not some abstract theory.

It's a crusade to put power in the hands of ordinary people.

And a very popular crusade it is proving. Tenants are jumping at the opportunity to buy their own council houses.

Workers are jumping at the opportunity to buy shares in their own privatised companies.

Trade unionists are jumping at the opportunity, which the ballot box now gives them, to decide "who rules" in their union.

And the rest of Britain is looking on with approval.

For popular capitalism is biting deep.

It used to be Socialists who talked of crusades.

Well, let them launch a new one on the old Socialist lines.

What about a Socialist crusade to rehabilitate that old favourite, the municipal landlord, and to lure home owners back into becoming council tenants?

Or a socialist crusade to re-nationalise Vickers, and take back the workers' shares.

Or a Socialist crusade to abolish bothersome union ballots and get back to the good old days of Big Brother.

After all, these aims are the very heartbeat of Socialism.

But you may have noticed how muted nowadays are the trumpets for such Socialist crusades.

For popular capitalism, which is the economic expression of liberty, is proving a much more attractive means for diffusing power in our society.

Socialists cry "Power to the people", and raise the clenched fist as they say it.

We all know what they really mean—power over people, power to the State.

To us Conservatives, popular capitalism means what it says: power through ownership to the man and woman in the street, given confidently with an open hand.

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About the Speaker (from Wikipedia):

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS, née Roberts (born 13 October 1925) is a British politician, the longest-serving (1979–1990) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the 20th century, and the only woman ever to have held the post. A Soviet journalist nicknamed her the "Iron Lady", which became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented Conservative policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism.

Originally a research chemist before becoming a barrister, Thatcher was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in 1959. Edward Heath appointed her Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975 Thatcher defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition, as well as the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. She became Prime Minister after winning the 1979 general election.

After entering 10 Downing Street, Thatcher introduced a series of political and economic initiatives to reverse what she perceived to be Britain's precipitous national decline.[nb 1] Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labour markets, the privatisation of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. Thatcher's popularity during her first years in office waned amid recession and high unemployment, until economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support, resulting in her re-election in 1983.

Thatcher was re-elected for a third term in 1987, but her Community Charge (popularly referred to as "poll tax") was widely unpopular and her views on the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990, after Michael Heseltine launched a challenge to her leadership. Thatcher holds a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, which entitles her to sit in the House of Lords.