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April 10, 2013



But Thatcher didn't appear radical prior to being elected, did she? She only pursued a more radical agenda once she had power. She then pursued policies that looked like they would result in her losing power (until the Falklands saved her). Credit to her for pursuing policies that (initially) made her unpopular. She seemed driven by a pursuit of ideology rather than a pursuit of re-election. Even Cameron is doing that to a degree, having sold himself as something of a Blairite liberal before the election (eg repeatedly saying he won't mess with the NHS, hug a hoodie etc etc). Don't you think Miliband could do the same once he gets power?

George Hallam

"The question is: how much room is there for the Labour leadership to display radical intentions within these constraints? My fear is: not much."

You may be right.. about Labour. But there is more to politics than the Holy trinity Lab/libdem/con.

This is apparent only if you drop the one-dimensional, left/right paradigm.

See Lewisham.


Can't we just dispense with the niceties and go the revolutionary route.


The idea that politics should be left to the narrow confines of westminster has always been short sighted to say the least. Roosevelt in the US in the 30s didn't implement the new deal because he wanted to but because he was forced to by unions, socialists, communists etc. No reason why something like that can't happen here. The question is to find the unit of, for want of a better word, resistance.


"A large section of the public are hostile to socialist policies."

Have socialist policies ever been put to the electorate?

Ralph Musgrave

A left of centre Thatcher? You’re joking. Thatcher had PRINCIPLES (which you may agree or disagree with). The idea that Labour has principles is a joke: they’re vote whores, just like the Lib Dems or Tories.

Second, Thatcher was a master of detail: that’s too much like hard work for the present lot in Westminster.

Tim Almond

"the idea that, despite evidence of its failure, organizations can be improved by better management control rather than workers' control."

What evidence of its failure? Yes, there's lots of idiots in management, but what evidence is there that workers' control leads to improved productivity?

I've seen what happens when the management let the technical specialists have too much leash on software projects - the developers become indulgent. Rather than building what is necessary, they build what they want to build.


Be fair. Immigration is advocated by both socialists and capitalists. The Institute of Directors, Socialist Workers Party and the Economist are as one in their certainty on that topic.


"to what extent can individual politicians transform the economy through their own will and ideology, and to what extent must they operate within the parameters set by capitalist economics"

Are you only interested in the economy? Because social changes can be just as important in the long term. A Welfare State built for 1948 Brits doesn't work so well for 2008 Brits. The cultural changes of the last 60 years are gigantic - imagine, say, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia dropping Islam over two generations.

Roy Jenkins had at least as much effect on the last half-century as Mrs Thatcher. And those changes, as with Mrs Thatcher's changes, have benefited the elite above all.


Off course A large section of the public are hostile to socialist policies: but a large section were and are hostile to right wing ideas and policies but the latter have no or very little main stream advocates.

Workfare is as contrary to free market theory as it is to Libertarian socialism.

Thatchers political success did owe a great deal to the mistakes of her opponents. The failure to risk an election in 1978, the division of the Labour party after its defeat which produced an incoherent alternative; not no alternative but several inconsistent versions of the Left from the factionalism characteristic of the Labour Party at the time. The miscalculation of Galteri, The Scargill failure to keep the NUM united when he must have known that the NUM outside yorkshire mistrusted his ideological approach.

when your foes are uncourageous, incompetent and inconsistent and divided over real or imaginary disagreements your success is far more likely.

Thatcher had ability and personal resolve in her Prime; but she was also presented with the opportunity to face opponents who were ineffective and who could be picked off one at a time. She still got stuffed by her own party when her luck ran out and she faced widespread opposition over the poll tax both within and outside her own party. As Enock Powell said all political Careers end in failure.


Oh and can there be a left Thatcher?

Not in the same way no. But the future is unknowable in many respects and fashion can change.

All sorts of unlikely changes can and do happen in human society and only time will tell.


The ideological battle has been won by classical liberalism. On the economy, the free market is the dominant paradigm; post-2007 debate has focused on addressing its shortcomings rather than alternative models. On society, we have the spectacle of a Conservative prime minister advocating gay marriage - and repealing ID cards and long terror detention without trail, both Labour policies.

My theory is that the public of this rich country (with its long-established institutions, century of universal suffrage, and post-imperial outlook), are uninterested in ideology of any kind, in the broad.

They want competent politicians who work for them, not themselves or anyone else.

They want good, efficient, accountable public services which aren't hoarded by any one group.

They dislike *mass* immigration.

They want to trade and cooperate with Europe without being being subject to it, financially or politically.

They are as suspicious of spectacular wealth and income as they are of families where generations haven't worked.

They think natural monopolies in particular, and powerful businesses in the broad require regulation - but they don't want SME's tied-up by red tape.

They're worried by the rapid growth of Islam, which they consider illiberal, and by paedophile priests.

They like the BBC and The Sun, even though The Sun hates the BBC for commercial reasons.

They'd prefer a tax system that's simpler and less perverse.

They'd like Scandi-style income distribution, but don't have enough faith in anyone to make it happen without screwing up the economy or privileging their client constituencies.

I've gone on far too long, but you get the idea: pragmatism and scepticism. And behind it all, the elephants in the room: (1) how to pay our way in the world when we no longer command preferential access to recources and (2) paying for the Boomer generation's pensions, care and health.

Churm Rincewind

I'm not sure that Mrs Thatcher had principles as such. Instead, and perhaps more effectively, she had beliefs, while other provided the rationales.

The electorate responded to that - they knew where they were, for or against. I happen to think that the LibDems have proved to be a useful and effective constraint on Conservative policy. But because this has involved compromise and accommodation on their part, they've been widely vilified. Why? Because apparently we no longer know "what they stand for".

Margaret Thatcher never made that mistake.


Reading Oborne...

"Lloyd George saved the nation in the First World War. Churchill – the greatest of them all – rallied the British nation, and then the entire world, against Hitler."

...I couldn't help being reminded of another Prime Minister who rallied the British nation - and then the whole (capitalist) world - against a system-threatening crisis, averting a looming global disaster and laying the groundwork for a sustainable recovery. Will posterity judge Gordon Brown to have been a great PM?

This was interesting, too:

"The Left, aided by its media allies, often made out that she was a liar. "

I'm thinking back, and I really don't think we did. 'Liar' is the last label you'd hang on Thatcher - what you saw was so clearly what you got. He must be thinking of someone else.


A large section of the public are hostile to socialist policies."

Have socialist policies ever been put to the electorate?

Yes - Michael Foot in 1983

Labour only got re-elected when it became in touch with middle England rather than retreating to the core vote

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