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on 7 January 2008
Simon Jenkins, past editor of The Times and the Evening Standard, has written a fascinating book on Thatcherism which, he observes, is not a style of leadership but a political direction. He claims that Blair and Brown are its `willing prisoners'.

Thatcher attacked all workers and all professions - doctors, nurses, teachers, judges, steelworkers, police and miners. She stripped local government and the civil service of their independence and democracy.

Since 1990 we have suffered Thatcherism without Thatcher. Jenkins shows how Major and Blair continued Thatcher's policies across the board. He calls Blair `Thatcher's most devoted follower', but he makes a very strong case that Brown is even more so.

His Chapter 17, `Gordon Brown Thatcherite', shows how Brown has mortgaged the government's current and capital accounts to balance the books and has sold forward contracts to private firms to supply services through his PFIs and PPPs. The government borrows dear now, workers pay dearer later.

Thus Brown shifted investment in public institutions `off the books', hidden from the public borrowing total, a technique that he copied from his banker friends like Gavyn Davies of Goldman Sachs. The Office of National Statistics now classifies 60% of PFIs as off-balance-sheet. Britain's gross off-balance-sheet public debt was £110 billion by 2003. Brown has imposed on us not just stealth taxes, but stealth debts too.

By 2005, Brown had forced the NHS to borrow £6 billion for PFI schemes, with another £11 billion to come. Less than 30% of the touted increased `health spending' goes to health care. 20% of hospital budgets go to servicing bank loans, far outweighing any promised compensatory `efficiency gains'. Most of the rest pays for the last decade's 60% increase in support and administrative staff, so it goes straight through the NHS and out the other side to private subcontractor firms.

Jenkins claims that Thatcher conducted two `revolutions' - freeing capital and strengthening the state - two aims which he sees as contradictory. But in fact she launched a single counter-revolution, strengthening capitalism's power, in order to defeat trade unions and their sources of strength in manufacturing industry.
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on 21 March 2016
An interesting read about Thatcher and her politics, and how she affected the UK political stage...
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on 19 April 2016
Brilliant analysis of the continuation of Thatcherism throughout the New Labour era.
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on 25 October 2015
Good book - but very long and perhaps more detail than really required.
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on 7 October 2013
Simon Jenkins has written a book about Margaret Thatcher and the three following prime ministers - Major, Blair and Brown. His contention is that the three latter merely extended her policies even though the last two were Labour politicians and were therefore supposedly opposed to her. It's not really much of a surprise except to those living on the most superficial level of the political theatre. But I thought Mr Jenkins was going to take a critical view of the whole matter. Well - he does but only to say that he thinks that Mrs Thatcher didn't go far enough. Oh well - each to their own.

However.....

When a writer says something that contradicts the experience of the reader, i.e. when the reader finds out that the writer is lying, then it cannot be allowed to pass.

The second chapter, titled "The Sorry Seventies", starts with this:

"The Seventies have a reputation in twentieth-century British history as second in gloom only to the Great Depression. Most generations look back on their youth as a time of comfort, security and hope. Those whose youth lay in the seventies tend to the opposite view."

Well - I was one of those Godforsaken ones whose youth lay in the Seventies. Do I remember a time of rat infested bedrooms, bathing in sewage water and desperately sucking the last traces of soup out of the carpet? Ummmm......not really. But I've seen this confidence trick, this demonization of the Seventies before. Mr Jenkins is very good at it. I love the air of neutral objectivity generated by "have a reputation". And what bestows this reputation? Some mysterious entity called "twentieth century British History".

And I appreciate Mr Jenkins' flair for melodrama: the Seventies considered as "second in gloom only to the Great Depression"? Let's just pause for a moment and consider the implications. Between the Great Depression and the Seventies lay a minor little incident known generally as "World War 2". Would Jenkins have us believe that the kids were singing and dancing their merry way through the prospect of fascism taking over the world? But I daresay that Mr Jenkins would be one of those staunch souls to wax sentimental about Those Glorious War Years When We All Pulled Together.

The "gloom of the 70s", i.e. the industrial unrest, was caused by a crisis of global capitalism to which the Labour Government and the union leaders responded by arranging something called "the social contract". This amounted to a wage restraint on the workforce in an attempt to transfer the burden of the crisis onto the workers rather than the owners. This was what led to the so-called "Winter of Discontent". It was a failure of capitalism rather than socialism.

Does Mr Jenkins really believe that this was as bleak as the time when the entire world stood on the brink of annihilation? That, in itself, says a lot about the kind of class mentality on view here.

The hired prize-fighters of capital are in full swing. And since they own all the mega phones we can do nothing but listen. But don't believe a word they say.
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on 13 January 2013
bought to help me with my a level history an a level politics gave me some good information to use in my essays
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