Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Chickens coming home to roost?

Last Saturday the Guardian published a number of features on Mrs Thatcher to mark the 30th anniversary of her accession to power. As one would expect the general tenor of the articles was resoundingly negative with the credit crunch explained as the Thatcherite chickens coming home to roost. (Germaine Greer's article here was representative).

The anniversary sent me back to former Guardian columnist Hugo Young's 'One of Us', which while by no means sympathetic to the subject, takes some beating for research and readability. I came across the following, which makes interesting reading in the light of the Guardian's argument. On page 46 there's a statement from the lady regarding the taxation of speculators, which is unambiguously hostile to them (if pretty dated: 1961):

"It is the speculators in shares we want to get at, the person who is in the business of buying and selling shares, not to hold them for their income-producing properties but to live on the profit he makes from these transactions".

The obvious argument to make is that she was being blown by the prevailing wind and would change her attitude by the 1980s. However, Young goes on to remark:

"It was a feature of budgets during the 1980s that they did the banks and money-changers very few favours."

(Indeed, Howe's 1981 budget included a windfall tax on the clearing banks.)

And this from one of her most trenchant critics.

Moreover, it's all too easily forgotten (especially by the Guardian's current commentators) that the 'big bang' reforms were intensely disliked by many of the more established City players. After all they were  designed to break up what was a cosy financial cartel that had been staffed via an old boys network (and as such not too dissimilar from some of her other reforms, such as of the trade unions).

C.f. also Nigel Lawson's disdain for the City's 'teenage scribblers'.

I suspect New Labour should never have been trusted to deal robustly with the City elites. Just as the convert can sometimes exhibit naivety that you won't find in those brought up in the faith, New Labour were too insecure and downright dazzled to say 'no' to the financial oligarchy when they should have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Labour & Guardian chatterati constantly harp on about Thatchers doings, good or otherwise, because she had more balls than any of the current bunch of lying sponging snout in the trough liars! It's pure envy - you could counter their arguments against her by saying that is what happens when you give a woman a job.(smirk mode that's bound to upset the glass ceiling girlies) (I thought she was a breath of fresh air, unlike the Satans bottomllike stench that comes from the New Labour experiment))