Putting Thatcher’s achievements as PM in perspective

From: William Snowden, Baildon Moor, Baildon.

CHARLES Lawson’s denunciation of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership was a jumble of partial facts, half truths and value judgements represented as “the facts” (The Yorkshire Post, October 14).

A combined total of 29 million days were, indeed, lost to strikes in 1979. But why did Mr Lawson not complete the equation? By 1990, that figure had fallen to two million. A remarkable transformation. Margaret Thatcher defeated the militant “enemy within” in quite a clever way: she democratised them. Laws were enacted to empower the ordinary members of trade unions: compulsory secret ballots for the election of trade union officials; and compulsory secret ballots, rather than an intimidatory “show of hands” to sanction strike action. Other means of intimidation were also outlawed.

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The transformative impact of those measures galvanised the Labour Party (albeit belatedly) to confront its own “enemy within” as Labour metamorphosed into “New Labour”. If Margaret Thatcher had done nothing else, that alone stands as an extraordinary achievement.

But she did do more; much, much more. Her greatest achievement proved to be a global phenomenon: privatisation was emulated throughout the world. The Tory patrician, Harold Macmillan, portrayed this as being tantamount to “the sale of all the Georgian silver... nice furniture (and)... the Canalettos”. The facts, however, paint a different picture. I certainly did not have a sense of “public ownership” whilst writing papers and marking papers by candlelight (and not Georgian silver candlesticks!) consequent to recurring power cuts. Nor, indeed, whilst stuck on a six-month waiting list for a BT phone line to be connected. Margaret Thatcher realised her vision of “popular capitalism”: a property and share-owning democracy within a thriving enterprise economy. Labour squandered that legacy. The lady put it well: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

From: Julian Blomley, Harrogate.

HAVING read the original opinion piece by Sir Bernard Ingham, I read with great satisfaction Tom Howley’s letter proposing and justifying Clem Attlee as the best post-war Prime Minister. I could not have put it any better myself, or more succinctly. I commend The Yorkshire Post for publishing the letter.