By: Chris Burke
In response to Alex Ripley’s post The Iron Lady Deserves Our Respect, my original plan was to write a lengthy article of my own breaking down the reasons why I disagree with Ripley and believe that we need to seriously reconsider the idea that Thatcher did any good for the world.
Given that my disagreement is in almost every point made, that would be a long article. So instead I’m going to take a different approach. What follows is a list of the points I disagree with Ripley on, and brief reasons for why. If he wants to expand on any of them in turn those into full posts, then that’s up to him.
By: Alex Ripley
My good friend and fellow pundit Chris Burke recently published in this space a passionate critique of the policies and legacy of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While Thatcher and I would certainly not have seen eye-to-eye on many things, I feel compelled to respectfully disagree with Mr. Burke’s analysis. As such, I am offering up my own fleeting assessment of the career, accomplishments, and memory of Margaret Thatcher. The 1837 Society, of course, has no views of its own – it is merely a forum for thoughtful discussion – and it is in times like these that the Society becomes a most effective vehicle for picking apart controversial issues.
Margaret Thatcher was, of course, the consummate neo-liberal. She was an unabashed defender of the free market, and a fierce enemy of the encroaching state. Whether or not her policies have left a positive legacy three decades out is not what I’m discussing here. Rather, I’ll argue that a capitalist warrior such as Thatcher was exactly the savior Britain needed in 1979.
By: Chris Burke
To say that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure would be putting it mildly. Reactions to her death have ranged from The Economist putting the title “Freedom Fighter” over the image of the late Thatcher to street parties being held in the UK celebrating her death. I haven’t celebrated her death, she hasn’t done anything that ever impacted me directly so doing so would be malicious for the sake of it, but I understand why people are celebrating her death. A more appropriate title for Thatcher would read “oppressor”. There have been calls from the British ruling class for respect during this time. Respect. Respect for the person who ruined lives. If there’s one thing Thatcher doesn’t deserve, it’s respect.
Thatcher was one of the key faces in the global rise of neo-liberalism. An ideology that, I would argue, has been responsible for the current state of the world. Neo-liberalism arose from the efforts to get the capitalists economies out of the 1970s crisis. The crisis was largely brought on by problems in the labour market, cheap labour wasn’t in supply the way it was after the Second World War. Increased investment in technology was failing to deliver on the promise of increased productivity from labour. Rates of profit in the UK were falling from 1963 and 1975. The crisis was the result of labour shortages and falling profits, a classic capitalist crisis.  Not unions and state-run industries as the Thatcherites would argue.