Freedoms Thatcher helped create boosted UK economy
Loved by many, hated by some, but respected by most, Margaret Thatcher was one of the most important leaders of the 20th century.
Queen Elizabeth I and Winston Churchill gave their names to eras. Uniquely, the former prime minister, who died this past week, gave hers to a political philosophy: “Thatcherism.” America, Europe and the world are in dire need today of leadership of the caliber she exhibited.
Many politicians “talk the talk,” but it is rare to find statesmen such as Ronald Reagan and Thatcher, who deliver on their promises and lift their nations from decline for the benefit of all.
Thatcher's policies devolved from freedom. She fought for freedom from foreign aggression, excessive taxation, stultifying regulation and the abuse of union and monopoly power. To her, these were not just words. To achieve such aims in a socialist quagmire of economic decline required enormous dedication, courage and self-sacrifice.
This freedom gave rise in the United Kingdom to an explosion of enterprise. Previously awash in debt, under Thatcher the United Kingdom experienced a debt repayment schedule.
As a member of Parliament throughout the “Thatcher years,” never will I forget the gasps of shock in the House of Commons that greeted Thatcher's reduction of the top rate of income tax from 92 percent to 60 percent, and finally to 40 percent. This was followed not by a reduction in foreign-exchange controls but their complete abolition.
Thatcher introduced democracy to the trades-union movement. She adopted my amendment to introduce a requirement for a secret ballot of union members before industrial action could be taken. She outlawed so-called “flying pickets” that could close unrelated companies. The result was that many trades unionists supported her to give her three record-breaking election victories.
Thatcher did more than just remove the monopoly power of state-owned corporations. She privatized their ownership so they became owned genuinely by members of the public rather than by the government. In addition, she ensured that the enormous powers of these newly privatized entities did not overwhelm the new competition with so-called “loss-leader” bids.
In the case of British Telecom (BT), for example, Thatcher organized “Offtel” to umpire the bidding as the airways were freed up. In the first several rounds of contract bids, Offtel precluded BT from bidding. This gave smaller companies such as Vodaphone bidding access into this lucrative industry. This incubation of smaller companies led to a blossoming of high-tech activity and employment.
In London, Thatcher instituted negotiated commissions and opened the ownership of stock exchange membership to foreign institutions. Known there as the “Big Bang,” this enabled London to attract American and other international ownership to regain its position as a pre-eminent financial center.
Thatcher shook the United Kingdom into enterprise and prosperity. She was brought down in a sea of political blood knee deep — not by the people or by her party in elections. Like Caesar, it was an orgy of treachery by her closest lieutenants.
After leaving office, Thatcher enjoyed a lucrative public speaking career but largely stayed out the public view in her later years after suffering from dementia. Britain's economy has since declined markedly.
John Browne, a former member of Britain's Parliament, is a financial and economics columnist for Total Trib Media. Email him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Linebackers on the spot against Saints offense
- Penguins notebook: Johnston calls Quinn ‘phenomenal’ coach, person
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- Liberty Bridge inspections to close lanes
- Pitt football notebook: Athletic department seeking fans’ input
- Grand jury reaches decision in Ferguson shooting
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- NFL notebook: Chiefs safety Berry may have lymphoma
- Pittsburgh Tuesday takes
- Goal of political process is not to create a government that works