In amongst the angst, bitterness and pure hatred spewed from all corners following the death of the Iron Lady, not too many commentators have reviewed her true Legacy, which she bestowed to this Nation during the time she bestrode the Westminster stage. Some of her targets were not from the Left, but from her own Party, who resented the very impertinence of being told the unvarnished truth by a ‘Grocer’s Daughter’. Not only did she tell the truth, not only did she figure out the roots of British decline; she made damn sure that change was seen as not only needed, it was made inevitable.
Consider her legacy with regard to the disastrous state of the British economy, when she came to lead the Tory Party. As one commentator reported in this acid-based documentary, in the days before the Thatcher revolution, you awoke to the voices from the State Broadcaster, otherwise known as the BBC, giving a slant on the news similar to Orwell’s Ministry of Truth but without the friendly atmosphere. You then ate a breakfast comprising food which had been transported by the State haulage company, whilst living in a house which you did not own, but which was allocated to you care of the National Housing schemes and Council housing lists. You then left to travel to work, either on a council-owned and operated bus or trolleybus, on a British Rail train, or in a car which was built by a State-owned company such as British Leyland. When you arrived at your work, a great many people worked in State-owned, subsidised and mis-managed industries such as British Telecom, British Steel, British Airways, British Gas: the list just went on. Whilst you worked, or sometimes pretended to work; you had to be a member of an appropriate Union, because the vast majority of State-owned companies were also closed shops. You also had to listen and agree with whatever the Unions proposed, such as strike action, because if you did not strike, and thus crossed a picket line, you had committed the ultimate crime; and henceforth you were a SCAB, and no-one would speak to you at all. The Unions ruled, and their Communist leaders, along with their wide-eyed supporters from the Liberal Left, made sure that their members were featherbedded against all expensive rises in cost-of-living statistics by threatening strike action if their constant demands were ever opposed. A threat, incidentally, the direct result of which brought some 29.5 million days lost to strike action in 1978-9.
Younger readers today have literally no idea of Union power, and the gross lunacies which grew from an idea which was, in itself, of great benefit to the working man. Place yourself in the boots of an electrician helping to build a ship at Swan Hunters’ shipyard on the Tyne. All he wants to do is to have a hole drilled through a bulkhead (a wall, to the uninitiated). He needs to get the hole cut or drilled because his heavy cable must go through the bulkhead. One side of the steel wall is covered by a wooden panel, the other side is covered by an asbestos panel. Firstly, he has to contact a carpenter, because only a carpenter can touch or drill through a wooden structure. Then he has to contact a boilermaker, because only boilermakers can use a oxy-acetylene cutting torch which can burn through the steel of the bulkhead. But then he also has to arrange for a shipwright to attend, because only shipwrights are authorised to mark up positions on steelwork. He also has then to arrange a visit by two fire-watchers, because a spark may catch another part of the woodwork, and cause fires. Two watchers because one must be standing on either side of the bulkhead. He then must also get an asbestos-qualified fitter to cut the asbestos insulation back around the hole which has been burned by the boilermaker. The electrician must then get a welder to fit and weld a steel collar around the circumference of the new hole in the bulkhead, so that the cable will not be damaged by lying on a sharp edge. If any workman, for want of simple speed, attempted to do anything for which he did not hold a Union card stating that he was qualified to undertake the procedure or task, he was warned, once, with the feared statement ‘you are depriving the family of a working man of the bread they need to survive’; and that was the force which ruled all of the State industries privatised by Margaret Thatcher.
An opponent of the working man? Rubbish, she freed that same working man from Union shackles, and allowed ‘freedom of choice’ to rule in their place!