Monday, 10 July 2017
A Statue of Thatcher Is A Great Test For the Civility of Labour
It probably says a lot about the current dysfunction of the government (we must hope that this is a temporary function of recent difficulties and that they are now getting their act together) that it cannot even decide what to do about a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Parliament Square. What is the problem? Quite apart from anything else, this is a Conservative government and Margaret Thatcher remains head and shoulders about every other PM in recent history. She ought to have her statue.
Actually, if you think about it, this is a good experiment for these modern and confusing times. A statue of Mrs Thatcher may well become a magnet for protesters and virtue signallers of the left. But why should it really, given that students these days don't appear to appreciate the dangers and folly of socialism and of us living beyond our means? Mrs Thatcher ceased to be Prime Minister in 1990. That is ancient history to modern students. And so the only reason that they would object to a statue of her is if they were merely following the crowd. I suspect that an awful lot of the current vogue for all things socialist and spendthrift and anti-austerity is a simple inability to think objectively and not follow the crowd. A statue would be a good test of it.
What would Chauncey say about a statue of Margaret Thatcher I wonder. I do hope someone asks him. He attended a rally of Durham Miners at the weekend, an event from which many Labour MPs were excluded because they have been insufficiently slavish in their appreciation of and devotion to Chauncey. Chauncey is a great adherent of miners folklore. He even at one point promised the reopening of Britain's mines, a promise that was entirely counter to his policy on tackling climate change. He has also of course promised an inquiry into the so called Battle of Orgreave, which is essentially Labour's attempt to rewrite history. Do students and young people care about this too? If so why?
But this is part of the mental infirmity that afflicts many on the left. They have a serial inability to learn the lessons of history and of experience due to history's persistent and infuriating refusal to acquiesce to their prejudices about human nature and the way things should be. How dare capitalism be so successful when socialism is the opposite. And so they just ignore this or look at other things instead. And so capitalism, though fantastically successful at providing food, shelter and the finer things in life like culture and cuisine, is condemned for the inequalities that it often produces. This infuriates the lefties, although it's not clear why. It seems to be a teenage anger that life is not fair. It's an odd way of looking at the world. After all we would not all be born equal even if we we born to families with exactly the same income and forced to live in identical houses. Our talents and abilities would soon see to that. So why the fury with Capitalism? Capitalism is not an ideology. It is just a methodology for making our lives work that has evolved from barter to modern highly complex market economies. It is also the single greatest driver of human progress that has ever been invented, something that is probably because nobody actually ever invented it.
Margaret Thatcher is still regarded as a bete noire of the left because of her defeat of the miners in the 80s. The fact that she had only the year before been re-elected by a landslide is overlooked and ignored. Her defeat of the miners should be celebrated by all right minded people because the miners were trying to hold the country to ransom. They were demanding that they be kept in their jobs in perpetuity regardless of the economic benefits of doing so. No doubt had they won that battle they would now be demanding that they be kept in their jobs despite coal being a polluting fuel that is thought to lead to climate change. How would we all feel about that? Do people have a right to jobs even when those jobs are no longer necessary and indeed may be damaging to the planet?
The miners strike was a great symbol of the Thatcher years because she dared to take on the vested interests of the left and of the unions and won. Before her Labour had actually closed many more mines than Tories had, it's just that they had done it more slowly and less dramatically. But Thatcher typically refused to pussy foot around on an issue that needed addressing when money was tight and when the British economy needed fundamental reform. The miners were part of an outdated British economy that had grown fat and bloated on public subsidies. We were making products that the world didn't want because they were outdated and of poor quality. The future was in high end manufacturing and in a service based economy. The future was in industries like those in the City of London and in software and aerospace. The future was in embracing new technologies and new methods of production. All have reaped rewards and now we build as many cars as in our heyday. The difference is that we build them well and the world wants to buy them.
Mrs Thatcher got us to where we are today because she faced down the naysayers and the lily livered in her own party. She forced Britain to embrace change and we are now an infinitely more prosperous society for it. Better still we no longer need to send men down shafts in the ground to risk their lives digging up coal.
This is not to say that there are not very many challenges ahead and new ones for which we need a new Thatcher. New technologies are threatening livelihoods again and there are challenges ahead for those in the modern equivalent of factories or indeed coal mines. The internet has revolutionised the world but has decimated huge parts of its economies. But this is what Capitalism does. It creates change by spotting gaps in the market and exploiting them. Creative destruction preys on weak companies and replaces them with stronger new ones. But it cannot do that if the weak are propped up by the state with subsidies.
Mrs Thatcher understood all of this and had a gift for explaining it to the British people. She was so successful that she changed the whole conversation, extirpated a whole hateful ideology from British politics for a generation and exported many of her ideas around the world becoming an icon into the bargain. The left has hated her for it ever since. Not really for the reasons they claim - that she was a heartless harridan who didn't believe in society. She wasn't and she never said the latter in the way that has been dishonestly attributed to her. No they hated her because she took them on and beat them by exposing how bankrupt their ideology and beliefs are. As she once said: the trouble with socialists is that they always run out of other people's money.
Now it seems we must refight her battles once again as the socialists try once again to impose their facile beliefs on us all. So let's build that statue to her as soon as possible. Seldom has it been needed more. Will they try to vandalise it? Of course they will. But that would typify them. Either way we shouldn't allow them to keep her from her rightful place.