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Celebrating the Legacy of Thatcherism
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

I am pleased to contribute to the commemoration of the 25 th Anniversary ( 4 May 1979) of the ideals/legacy of Thatcherism bequeathed to Britain and to the world by its first woman Prime Minister, the Iron Lady, Baroness Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990). I served as First Secretary at the T&T High Commission, London from 1981 to 1988 and witnessed first hand the political dynamics of Thatcherism at No.10. I also attended several Conservative Party Conventions and witnessed power and the glory of the Iron Lady in full flight.

For all its vaunted and current opposition to Thatcherism, Labour's PM Tony Blair and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown are born again, converted Thatcherites and new improved re-makes of the persistence of the new political paradigm initiated by one of Britain's most radically reforming and fearless Prime Ministers. Maggie Thatcher cascaded unto Britain after defeating Tory Party leader Callaghan like an avalanche of virgin white snow from a British middle class grocer's lineage bent on sanitising the then socialist-contaminated British political landscape. The marginalisation of Labour's brand of socialism was the high water-mark of her politics that restored the Great back into Britain. She not only reformed the Labour Party but the Conservatives as well. Unfortunately she left a huge leadership void in the Conservatives post -1991 from which they have not and are struggling to recover to date.

Labour's impending local and EU elections manifestoes are like the casking of the old wine of Thatcherism into the new wine skins of globalisation and functionalism. They are premised on Thatcherite's ideas on private housing, more choices in education and public services and decentralisation of Government- all fundamentals of Thatcherism.

The 1979, pre-Thatcherite British political landscape was scarred by high taxation, double digit inflation, trade union intransigence, high interest rates, a bloated nationalised public sector and a virtual collapse of the entrepreneurial ethic. Maggie Thatcher changed the face of Britain as Kerry Packer did to cricket forever by introducing new found freedoms that displaced the bankruptcy, sterility and suffocation of Labour's socialist pyrotechnic rhetoric. Thatcherism is also credited to being the precursor of the demise of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall and the political waterloo of the mad dogs and agrarian dictators of Stalinism.

The heart and soul of Thatcher's monetarist policy were bringing inflation into single digit and the privatisation of the cash-hungry British State Sector. Her privatisation policy/monetarism was introduced in post-oil bonanza T&T by the fiscal discipline of the Chambers regime (81-86) and followed by the NAR regime (86-91) under the more palatable guise of divestment of state enterprises. Thatcherism successfully transformed a languishing British economy into a modern, private sector, market- driven engine of growth culminating into a viable share and house-owning affluent democracy.

Thatcherism was all about freedoms and market- forces- the DNA of globalisation. It was a fitting tribute of poetic and political justice that her unique and visionary creation of a new genre in British political economy was celebrated and adulated in London on Tuesday 4 May.

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