Giving Voice: Margaret Thatcher on Unemployment

I find it interesting that unemployment has been an issue of glaringly huge proportions for quite some time within the free market world.  That there have been sound ways of alleviating it during the course of these past decades, yet left untouched by those in power is disheartening, very telling and ultimately totally inexcusable.
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…Characteristically she covered her own weakest flank – unemployment – by counter-attacking Labour’s  record in the 1970’s. ‘In the end Labour always runs away,’ she jeered in her adoption speech at Finchley on 19 May:

            ‘They are running away from the need to defend their country…They are fleeing from the long overdue reform of the trade unions…They are running out on Europe…Above all, Labour is running away from the true challenge of unemployment.’

Promising to create millions of jobs, she insisted, was ‘no more than an evasion of the real problem’.  Real jobs could only be created by gradually building up a competitive economy with profitable industries that could hold their own in world markets.  ‘We Conservatives believe in working with the grain of human nature, in encouraging people by incentives, not in over-regulating them by too many controls.’ ‘A quick cure,’ she repeated several times in another favourite formulation, ‘is a quack cure.’

Margaret Thatcher circa 1983 (excerpt taken from The Iron Lady by John Campbell, pg 222)

6 thoughts on “Giving Voice: Margaret Thatcher on Unemployment

  1. David Rastall

    Hey Laura, I didn’t know you were a supporter of Maggie Thatcher. Did you know that she was labeled, even by by her own back-benchers, as TBW (“That Bloody Woman”). She was not one of my favorite people.

    As to that quote: even as late as the 1980′s, “labour” in Britain meant socialism, and in Thatcher’s view that was un-British. Anything she may have said in opposition to labour was really her knee-jerk opposition to socialism, which she saw as a European dysfunction, whether it created jobs or not (and what’s wrong with creating jobs anyway?). Socialism, real or merely perceived, was Mrs. Thatcher’s straw man throughout her reign. Despite what she may have said to the contrary, in actual fact she cared nothing for the quality of life of the British people; her only concern was staying in power as long as possible, maintaining the “pinkie-up” mentality of privilege in upperclass Britain, and destroying anyone, including those within her own party, who disagreed with her. Her own solution to Britain’s economic woes, namely her government’s embrace of the free market system, is what turned out to be the nation’s true quick-fix “quack” solution. Mrs Thatcher destroyed the labour party and all it stood for in post-war Britain (the world I was born into). IMO she was an abomination, and I do not think that Britain would benefit from her particular brand of leadership today. What they need is Charles on the throne and another Tony Blair running things.

    Reply
    1. laura bruno lilly Post author

      David, your points are very well taken…and clearly articulated. I knew I was taking a chance putting the quote out there as part of my series. Brits and Americans speak English, but often don’t speak the same language. That’s where I tend to err on the side of simplistic face value of words that hold double meanings in our language. And certainly hold dynamic political nuances (oxymoron?) deciphered by those living within their respective societies.

      While my hubby and you would probably enjoy hearty political discussions, I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of political thought/party lines. For me, taken at face value the statement “Labour is running away from the true challenge of unemployment” speaks a basic message to me. It says that those in charge, those who can do something constructive about changing the lack of sufficient jobs/wages for those eager to work, choose to look the other way and continue enjoying their personal prosperity, often at the expense of others. The quote coming from an important historical figure gives that thought more punch than if I spoke it or wrote it…especially since the lady was such a bulldog!

      However since you lived through the realities of Thatcher ‘reform’ I can see how a Thatcher quote could seem counter to my strong defense of the homeless and jobless in America…

      Much more to mull over, thank you for your input.

      Reply

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