The Thatcher Wars

Perhaps the most notable thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she engaged in so many wars:

  1. Thatcher vs. the peace movement. She won. Despite huge protests, British nuclear weapons remained. American intermediate missiles came into Britain. Later, the INF Treaty removed them and the Soviet equivalent.
  2. Thatcher vs. Argentina. She won. Her single most famous victory.
  3. Thatcher vs. the unions. She won. Both against the union movement generally, and most notably against the coal miners.
  4. Thatcher vs. Communism. She won, in the sense that Communism collapsed and was entirely discredited.
  5. Thatcher vs. social liberalism. She lost. Her attempt to promote Victorian virtues, such as frugality and saving (over borrowing), was largely in vain.
  6. Thatcher vs. the post-nationalists. She lost. Her opposition to such things as immigration and antipathy to European union eventually came to naught.

Is there any other recent leader who waged so many battles? She won so many of them, but lost what are perhaps the really big and lasting ones.

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4 responses to “The Thatcher Wars

  1. War also with Irish Republicans, resulting in a stalemate eventually resolved by her successors. War with local government. I’d count this as a loss, as it resulted in the Poll Tax – costing her her premiership. Despite abolition of the GLC, Ken Livingstone eventually became Mayor of London. Not exactly a war, but she was a Unionist. But her policies (and discovery of Scottish oil) strengthened the position of Scottish nationalists.

    I would argue that she won her big battle, which was to liquidate the power of labour and restore the power of capital in the UK. She was so successful that she managed to carry big sections of the working class with her by offering the prospect (real for many) of embourgeoisment. Her victory did not, however, resolve the UK’s long-term economic problems and resulted in a low-investment economy overly dependent on finance, propped up by asset inflation.

    • Yes, I should have added those. But luckily she decided to go for compromise rather than combat with China over Hong Kong.

    • ndm, I was half-expecting you’d post on that new survey of classes (seven of them?) in the UK. Any value in it?

      • Yes, I would have done but I’m trying to get through Vols. 3 and 4 of Mann for a book review deadline. Quick response: the survey and article about the seven classes is interesting, but it is unusual because the methodology blurs together classes and generational cohorts.

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