These last two days the airwaves have been awash with eye-dabbing tributes to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She has been elevated almost to sainthood by commentators, political hacks and former colleagues. Such near-hysterical adoration, it seems to me, is a measure of the wretched scarcity of leadership talent in Britain over the last 50 years.
Yes, she demonstrated a few admirable virtues for which she is rightly remembered and which were sadly lacking in the wimps who surrounded her. But they are trumped by a catalogue of failings. When she took over the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975 she ominously declared: “I am not a consensus politician. I am a conviction politician.” This was a deeply scary opening gambit. It’s fine as long as your convictions are soundly based. But when they are grounded in barmy beliefs you become a menace to party and country.
Almost straightaway Thatcher turned Britain’s manufacturing heart, known as the Black Country, into an industrial wasteland. I was there, working for a major engineering group. I saw the devastation first-hand and felt the anguish and despair of the local people. Big organisations shed jobs by the hundreds and thousands. Many shut their doors for ever. Countless highly skilled small businesses – jobbing contractors to the large companies – were crippled by sky-high interest rates, the new ‘wisdom’ dispensed by the inventors of ‘Thatcherism’. Base interest rates climbed to 15%, which meant that business owners were paying as much as 22%.
As George Galloway says Tramp the dirt
Thatcher had become a disciple of ‘monetarism’, a school of thought claiming that by juggling the money supply you could determine economic activity, keep a lid on inflation and manage the economic cycles. Demand would be boosted or damped by turning the money tap. This new approach was just the medicine for reviving Britain’s ailing economy, according to her bestest political friend Keith Joseph, aka the ‘Mad Monk’.
Then came de-regulation and the privatisation of our utilities (many ending up in foreign hands). There was little attempt to re-start manufacturing. Instead the emphasis was on expanding financial services. A financial sector free-for-all and an explosion of personal and corporate greed followed. It fitted perfectly her sickening statement that “there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families… people must look to themselves first.” The self-centred revolution had arrived.
A prisoner of the Zionists?
Margaret Thatcher was kept in parliament by the considerable Jewish vote in her Finchley constituency, which adjoins the North London Jewish quarter of Hendon and Golders Green. Unsurprisingly, she was a member of the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley and the Conservative Friends of Israel (of which, I believe, she was a founder).
David Frum, who was one of George Dubya Bush’s speechwriters and credited with the ‘axis of evil’ speech vilifying Iraq, Iran and North Korea, wrote of Thatcher How Margaret Thatcher Changed Britain that she “was elected from a heavily Jewish north London constituency… Altogether, five Jews served in her cabinets, including her strongest Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, and her ideological mentor, Education Secretary Keith Joseph… One of her favorite ministers, Malcolm Rifkind, went on to serve under her successor John Major as the first Jewish foreign secretary — voiding the taboo that had descended after the creation of the state of Israel against Jews in UK national security positions.
“Thatcher’s sympathy for Israel especially worried and frightened British officials. When she became party leader in the mid-1970s, she succumbed to pressure and resigned from pro-Israel groups… ”
The fear was, of course, that Thatcher’s closeness with British Jews might suggest she was a ‘prisoner of the Zionists’. Charles C Johnson, writing in December 2011 Thatcher and the Jews , says that Thatcher reluctantly agreed to quit the Jewish groups she belonged to, but kept her relationships with pro-Israel parliamentarians. “In addition to Nigel Lawson, she appointed Victor Rothschild as her security adviser, Malcolm Rifkind to be secretary of state for Scotland, David Young as minister without portfolio, and Leon Brittan to be trade and industry secretary. David Wolfson, nephew of Sir Isaac Wolfson, president of Great Universal Stores, Europe’s biggest mail-order company, served as Thatcher’s chief of staff. Her policies were powered by two men — Keith Joseph, a member of Parliament many thought would one day be the first prime minister who was a practicing Jew, and Alfred Sherman, a former communist turned free-market thinker.”
Joseph and Sherman, with Thatcher, had set up the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974. Joseph wanted to “fundamentally affect a political generation’s way of thinking”.
Thatcher was generally supportive towards Israel but did not trust Begin and Shamir, whom she recognised for the shameless terrorists they were. In 1986, when Peres was prime minister, she became the first British premier to visit Israel, although she had previously been twice as a member of parliament – presumably on brainwashing trips organised by her party’s Friends of Israel.
During that landmark visit in 1986, reports Haaretz, she was asked why Queen Elizabeth had never found the time to tour the Holy Land. Thatcher replied: “But I’m here.” And she didn’t seem to mind staying in the King David Hotel, the former British Army headquarters which was blown up by Jewish terrorists in 1946, killing 91 soldiers and civilians.
Nevertheless she was occasionally critical and, for example, condemned Israel’s bombing of Osirak, Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor, in 1981. It represented a grave breach of international law, she told The Jewish Chronicle. Bombing another country like that could lead to “international anarchy”.
All the same, under Thatcher’s eleven-and-a-half year watch important taboos were broken and Jews were appointed to such top Offices of State as chancellor of the exchequer and secretary for defence, foreign and home affairs. The floodgates opened for Zionist sympathisers or worse, such as Straw, Miliband and Hague to subsequently take up the crucial post of foreign secretary and make a toxic hash of our relations abroad.
At home she left a wide trail of social and industrial wreckage, sweeping away key industries and relying on the froth and fizz and corruption of a financial services boom. She all but switched off our engine of real wealth – manufacturing – making the prospect of real recovery a very distant one.
Those who’ll mourn for Maggie most will be the Old Etonians and other products of our public schools who make up our ruling ‘élite’ and whose tender upbringing fixated on Matron rather than the Laws of Cricket.
Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF then pursued a career in industrial marketing.
More recently he worked as a freelance and with innovation consultancies. Psychology degree Exeter University, Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor 1993-97 and on the Police Authority. Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Since retiring has been a newspaper columnist and produced two photo-documentary books. He is a regular contributor to a number of internet news magazines.
Stuart’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, tells the plight of the Palestinians under brutal occupation. It can now be read on the internet by visiting RadioFreePalestine.org.uk.