June 19: How a vilified Mrs Thatcher managed to turn UK around

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From: Gordon Lawrence, Stumperlowe View, Sheffield.

WE are still regularly subjected, in The Yorkshire Post’s letter column, to the root of all evil in the person of Margaret Thatcher. She seems to provide a constant comfort zone for the disenchanted Left.

The tacit innocence of Arthur Scargill in the coal dispute is testimony to the almost congenital prejudice of the hardliners. Admittedly, her personality was not everyone’s cup of tea; neither was she free of policy mistakes, but neither were Churchill, Gladstone and, of course the idol of the Left, Clement Attlee, not to mention such lionised socialist icons as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

If we examine closely some of the failings ingrained in present day Britain that Colin Proctor and Dr Glyn Powell (The Yorkshire Post, June 8) and countless others regard as the sole legacy of Mrs Thatcher’s sovereignty, I believe, an entirely different conclusion emerges.

I’ll just deal with one. Industrial decline began even before 1914 as the dinosaurs of the Industrial Revolution failed to match the burgeoning power of the USA and Germany. But things were significantly worsened by the Attlee government that nationalised everything that wasn’t set in hard cement.

Nationalisation, contrary to the belief of the Left, converted our already problematic manufacturing into a cluster of monolithic, sclerotic industries that enabled the trade unions to use their monopolistic bargaining power to bring many of these to their knees. And the anarchy in industrial relations, heightened by Britain’s class troubles, became worse as Harold Wilson’s 1974-76 administration (inspired by Tony Benn’s socialist vision) resulted in 27 per cent inflation and growing unemployment and the near destruction of our car industry.

With the top rate of tax at 98 per cent, Britain was in the grip of stagflation and a disintegrating economy and by 1976, under James Callaghan, the IMF had to be called in to rescue the country; the pound was devalued. It was utter humiliation.

The task facing Mrs Thatcher was harrowing, but she pulled the country round in spite of fierce and bitter resistance 
from the union movement and the dire predictions of the academic Left.

Far from splitting the country along old class lines, a fair section of working artisans opted to vote Tory.

Eventually, international pride was restored and many countries opted for Thatcherism in an endeavour to dig their own economies out of the bankrupt policies of their Left-orientated governments.