Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy: The Great Divide Between Haves and Have Nots
It is hard not to join in the chorus on one side or another of the great Margaret Thatcher divide. In fact it is nigh impossible. Perhaps the adjective most bandied about since her death, and the one that best describes her, is: divisive. She divided a nation. The capitalist system she supported, that most thinking people today believe is on its last legs, pursued the motto: “Divide and rule.” The trades union movement pursued the motto: “United we stand, divided we fall.” These two mottoes faced off one another across the great Thatcher divide. A class battle was waged whereby the trade union movement had a wedge driven between its legs until today it still cries out from the punishment. Thatcher was responsible for this battle against the working class, which led to the society we have today of greedy go-getters and usurers.
The housing divide
Who knows, perhaps Thatcher naively and seriously thought that everybody, by following the capitalist dream, could become rich. Anybody can see, die-hard bankers especially, that such a society could never exist under a capitalist system. Robert Tressell clearly shows how this system functions in The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, in a chapter called “The Great Money Trick.” There need to be factors of production to make the capitalist system work. This is why there is a one percent super-rich sector and the other 99 percent are destined to make their way through life as best they can. Many working-class people bought into the dream, buying their council houses below market value and quite probably thinking this was great when they came to sell these houses at a more realistic market value. This conjurer’s trick can only be worked once. It left in its wake a vast shortage of social housing and a populace of young people unable to afford a house, together with councils that are in debt because they have been robbed of their assets.
The financial divide
Likewise a dream of Thatcher’s — nightmare might be a better word — was to privatize pensions. People were bribed with £200 (paid from the state pension scheme) to contract out and invest in private pensions, because capitalists know better how to make your money grow. Most of the private schemes failed. So those without a proper pension came back into the state pension scheme. They did not pay £200 plus interest to get back in. The state pension scheme had remained solvent. It was not run by shady capitalists whose main motivation was how much profit they could screw you for. Contributions paid into private pension schemes lined the pockets of the capitalists. The state pension scheme saw none of this; however, pensions paid to those who returned because they would otherwise have been without a pension, are today paid out of the state pension scheme, although they are entitled to some pension for the contributions they made. Similarly when banks go bust, taxpayers, who all economists know, provide most of the liquidity that enables banks to operate, are forced to bail them out. That is, unless there is a chance they might recover and provide profit to the rich. Even when banks continue to fail, bankers are paid disgusting bonuses at taxpayers expense.
The military divide
Thatcher was the first post second world-war prime minister to take us into war. It was an unnecessary war. A peace deal was on the table, but she chose to have Argentinian and British troops killed to bolster her flagging popularity. Because collectively the electorate is stupid — there can be no other word for it — she sailed back into power on the tidal wave created by the loss of these young lives. Every single prime minister since, of both main parties, and the coalitionist Nick Clegg, have taken us into unnecessary wars. Thatcher showed them the way. None of them has been big enough to say “No.” The electorate continues to support these wars. The world is in debt. The wars, which enrich capitalists, have caused this debt, which the rest of us will have to pay.
A fitting epitaph
Margaret Thatcher is dead. I shall not be dancing on the day of her funeral, another pompous affair aimed at brainwashing those sheep who have never read George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I shall not be having a street party in remembrance of her divisive policies. Instead I have combined the two mottoes from the introductory paragraph into a fitting epitaph to the old lady who did so much harm to my country.