Thatcher’s Revolution

By:  Ralph R. Reiland
04/25/2013
       
Thatcher’s Revolution

Britain was in decline when Margaret Thatcher was elected as the nation’s first female prime minister in 1979. Her answer to the economic collapse was more capitalism and less government.

Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize winning American author, energy scholar and economic researcher, wrote recently that the passing of Margaret Thatcher provides “a timely reason to ask: What was the Thatcher Revolution about?”

Yergin explains that he tackled that same question 15 years ago and “decided the best way to answer it was by asking Thatcher herself.”

He quotes Thatcher’s reply: “For me, it was so simple. The state ought not to tell people what to do. My experience reinforced my beliefs. It was becoming obvious to people that the socialist way meant accepting decline. Can you imagine — people accepting decline.”

Thatcher was right about the decline.

“In 1870, Britain was the world’s richest economy, but by the late 1970s it had become the sick man of Europe,” report Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn at Reuters.

Britain’s accelerating decline and “sick man” status was not a matter of opinion, as evidenced by a confidential dispatch to London entitled “Britain’s decline” from Nicholas Henderson, Britain’s ambassador to Paris, in 1979, the year Margaret Thatcher was elected as the nation’s first female prime minister.

“Today we are not only no longer a world power but we are not in the first rank even as a European one,” wrote Henderson. “Our decline is shown not simply by the statistics but by the look of our towns, airports, hospitals, local amenities.”

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