Margaret Thatcher: the most useful of idiots is dead

Note: Undoubtedly a gigantic political personality, but that is disastrous if the politics and understanding of what she was doing are missing. One of her favourite claims was that she had been “badly advised”.  Just what you don’t want as PM.  What is needed is someone who understands the consequences of what they are doing. RH 

Margaret Thatcher: the most useful of idiots

Robert Henderson
With his mixture of vaulting intellectual ambition and howling mediocrity of mind, Lenin is the MaGonagal of philosophers. (Connoisseurs of intellectual incompetence and pretension should browse through Lenin’s ‘Materialism and Empririo-Criticism’ for an especial treat). Nonetheless, like Hitler, the man possessed a certain low animal cunning and a complete absence of moral restraint, which qualities permitted him to make a few acute psychological and sociological observations. Amongst these is the concept of the useful idiot.
For Lenin this was the role to be played primarily by simpleminded bourgeois dupes who unwittingly aided the movement towards the proletarian revolution, a revolution utterly antipathetic to the ideals and aspiration of the simpleminded bourgeois dupes. But the concept is of general political utility. The useful idiot is any person who acts in a way which unwittingly promotes political interests which are opposed to his own political ideals.
The best of all useful idiots are those in positions of the greatest political advantage, both because they have power and their propensity to be deluded by their egos into believing that they are utterly beyond manipulation or mistaken in their policies. They also display a serious want of understanding of the probable consequences of their actions.
It was this combination of circumstances and mentality which made Margaret Thatcher so potent a useful idiot in the liberal internationalist cause. As I wrote that last sentence, I saw rising up before me the opposing hordes of her admirers and haters, singularly united in a ghastly embrace of disbelief. Was she not the Iron Lady, the Hammer of the Left, the destroyer of union power, the slayer of the socialist dragon? Did she not speak of turning back the tide of immigrants? Was she not the rock from which the European Leviathan rebounded? Did she not ensure that Britain was respected in the world as she had not been since Suez? Was she not a mover and shaker in the nationalist cause?
In her own rhetorical world Mrs T was all of these things, a veritable Gloriana who enchanted some and banally persuaded many more, but in practical achievement she was none of them. This discrepancy between fact and fancy made her an extraordinarily potent tool for the soldiers of the ascendant ideology of the post-war period, the sordid bigotry that is liberal internationalism.
The hard truth is that she allowed the primary British political corruptions of the post war period – immigration, multiculturalism, “progressive” education, the social work circus, internationalism, the attachment to Europe – to not merely continue but grow vastly in scope during her period in power.
A harsh judgement? Well, at the end of her premiership what did Britain have to show for her vaunted patriotism, her wish to maintain Britain’s independence, her desire to drive back the state, her promise to end mass immigration? Precious little is the answer.
Her enthusiastic promotion of the Single European Act, which she ruthlessly drove through Parliament, allowed the Eurofederalists to greatly advance their cause under the guise of acting to produce a single market; her “triumph” in reducing our subsidy to Europe left us paying several billion a year to our European competitors whilst France paid next to nothing; our fishermen were sold down the river; farmers placed in the absurd position of not being allowed to produce even enough milk for British requirements; actual (as opposed to official) immigration increased; that monument to liberal bigotry, the Race Relations Act was untouched, the educational vandals were not only allowed to sabotage every serious attempt to overturn the progressive disaster, but were granted a great triumph in the ending of ‘O’ levels, a liberal bigot success amplified by the contemptible bleating of successive education secretaries that “rising examination success means rising standards”; foreign aid continued to be paid as an unforced Dangeld extracted from an unwilling electorate; major and strategically important industries either ceased to be serious competitors or ended in foreign hands; the armed forces were cut suicidally; the cost of the Welfare State and local government rose massively whilst the service provided both declined and Ulster was sold down the river with the Anglo Irish Agreement. Most generally damaging, she promoted internationalism through her fanatic pursuit of free trade.
At all points Britain was weakened as a nation. Such were the fruits of more than a decade of Thatcherism. Even those things which are most emblematic of her – privatisation, the sale of council houses and the subjection of the unions – have had effects which are contrary to those intended. Privatisation merely accelerated the loss of control which free trade engendered. We may as customers celebrate the liberation of British Telecom and BA, but is it such a wonderful thing to have no major car producer or shipbuilder? The trouble with the privatisation of major industries, which may be greatly reduced, go out of business or be taken over by foreign buyers, is that it ignores strategic and social welfare questions. Ditto free trade generally. Both assume that the world, or at least the parts which contain our major trading partners , will remain peaceful, stable and well disposed towards Britain for ever, an absurd assumption.
Margaret Thatcher also engaged in behaviour which led to a corruption of public life which undermined and continues to undermine her intended ends. Politicians should always think of what precedent they are setting when they act for bad precedents will be invariably seized upon by later governments. She consistently failed to address this concern. Take her attitude to privatisation and the unions. In the former case she displayed a contempt for ownership: in the latter she engaged in authoritarian actions which were simply inappropriate to a democracy. Such legally and politically cavalier behaviour has undoubtedly influenced Blair and New Labour, vide the contempt with which parliament is now treated, constitutional change wrought and incessant restrictions on liberty enacted.
There is a profound ethical question connected to privatisation which was never properly answered by Tories: what right does the state have to dispose by sale of assets which are held in trust on behalf of the general public and whose existence has been in large part guaranteed by taxpayer’s money? This is a question which should be as readily asked by a conservative as by a socialist for it touches upon a central point of democratic political morality, the custodianship of public property. The same ends – the diminution of the state and the freeing of the public from seemingly perpetual losses – could have been achieved by an equitable distribution of shares free of charge to the general public. This would have had, from a Thatcherite standpoint, the additional benefit of greatly increasing share ownership. By selling that which the government did not meaningfully own, she engaged in behaviour which if it had been engaged in by any private individual or company would have been described as fraud or theft.
The breaking of union power was overdone. As someone who is old enough to remember the Wilson, Heath and Callaghan years, I have no illusion of exactly how awful the unions were when they had real power. But her means of breaking their abusive ways, particularly during the miners’ strike, were simply inappropriate in a supposed democracy. Passing laws restricting picketing and making unions liable for material losses suffered when they broke the rules were one thing: the using of the police in an unambiguously authoritarian manner in circumstances of dubious legality such as the blanket prevention of free movement of miners, quite another.
The Falklands War displays another side of her weakness in matching actions to rhetoric. Admirable as the military action was, the terrible truth is that the war need never have been fought if the government had taken their intelligence reports seriously and retained a naval presence in the area. The lesson went unlearnt, for within a few years of the recovery of the Falklands, her government massively reduced defence expenditure.
But what of her clients, the Liberal Ascendency? Would they not be dismayed by much of what she did? Well, by the time Margaret Thatcher came to power liberals had really lost whatever interest they had ever had in state ownership or the genuine improvement of the worker’s lot. What they really cared about was promoting their internationalist vision and doctrine of spurious natural rights. They had new clients; the vast numbers of coloured immigrants and their children, women, homosexuals, the disabled. In short, all those who were dysfunctional, or could be made to feel dysfunctional, in terms of British society. They had new areas of power and distinction, social work, education, the civil service ,the mass media to which they added, after securing the ideological high ground, the ancient delights of politics.
Although the liberal left distrusted and hated Margaret Thatcher (and did not understand at the time how effective her commitment to free trade was in promoting internationalism), they nonetheless had the belief throughout her time in office that Britain’s involvement in the EU and the Liberal Ascendency’s control of education, the media, the civil service and bodies such as the Commission for Racial Equality would thwart those of her plans which were most dangerous and obnoxious to the liberal.
Margaret Thatcher greatly added to this wall of opposition by her choice of ministers. Think of her major cabinet appointments. She ensured that the Foreign Office remained in the hands of men (Howe and Hurd) who were both ardent Europhiles and willing tools of the FO Quisling culture, the Chancellorship was entrusted to first Howe and then Lawson who was also firmly committed to Europe. The Home Office sat in the laps of the social liberals Whitelaw, Hurd and Baker, Education was given to Baker and Clarke. Those appointments alone ensured that little would be done to attack the things which liberals held sacred, for they were men who broadly shared the liberal values and who were opposed to Thatcherite policies other than those on the economy, which of course was the one Thatcherite policy guaranteed to assist liberal internationalism. By the end, she was so weak that she was unable to prevent the effective sacking of a favourite cabinet minister, Nicholas Ridley, by the German Chancellor.
The constant cry of Margaret Thatcher after she left office is that she did not understand the consequences of her acts. Of course she does not put it in that way, but that is what it amounts to. She blames Brussels and the Foreign Office for the unwelcome consequences of the Single European Act. She readily admits that this minister or that in her government proved unreliable or treacherous, but does not conclude that her judgement in choosing them was at fault. She blames the Foreign Office for the Falklands War. But nowhere does she acknowledge her fault.
In her heart of hearts, has the second longest serving and most ideological prime minister in modern British history ever comprehended, however imperfectly, that she was a prime mover in the Liberal Internationalist cause? I doubt it, because self deception is at the heart of what makes a useful idiot.
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17 Responses to Margaret Thatcher: the most useful of idiots is dead

  1. Ann-Marie says:

    You are talking rubbish

    Sent from my iPod

  2. Iyobosa says:

    Here’s some more on the Thatcher legacy. Have a read and let me know what you think.
    http://theconscienceblog.com/2012/11/18/privatisation-is-justified-only-if-it-results-in-competition/

  3. David Brown says:

    Robert i admire most of your articles but she was the greatest English women .In the end of her career she understood what the EU was about and was destroyed by her own party over this. Margret Thatcher was the greatest English women – i will present facts to substantiate this,

    ok you might argue that if she has not saved our England from economic demise that we would not have had millions of migrants coming to England.

    As with our greatest scientists, authors – in which England is premier league , she was among the greatest of English women = she was England and England was Thatcher

    • Here David Here, here 100% agree a great English person and woman, she can rightly stand shoulder to shoulder with our many other famous women , what Robert Henderson has forgotten is that she was a woman in a mans world, no matter what she did or you think of her she took them all on not many women can do that!!

  4. David Brown says:

    sorry about the typos above-ok if she had not saved our England from economic demise we would not subsequently have millions of migrants as they tend to target rich rather than poor countries .

  5. William Gruff says:

    I hope that at some future date all of the comments that have ever been left on political blogs, especially those eulogising Mrs Thatcher, are available to political scientists and historians. ‘Our ancestors and forerunners were right’, they will say, ‘to abolish universal suffrage, which was an absurd idea. The idiots who thought so highly of that dreadfully destructive woman were clearly far too stupid to vote sensibly.’

    Like many, I voted for her in 1979 but, unlike most, I soon realised what she was about, and I was one of the few who said at the time that the Falklands campaign would not have been necessary had the Thatcher government done its job properly. I don’t think she deserves any credit for that, although she was right to send the task force to recapture them. However, they should not have been placed at risk to begin with. I voted for her in 1982 only because the Labour offering was not a serious proposition.

    A good piece; well written and finely observed.

  6. maverick says:

    She was never in the same league as Powell,the victory in the Falklands was as the previous writer says a consequence of a lack of foresight and political will .
    The screeching attacks that have started from the likes of Sinn Fien and Galloway ad Nauseum may indeed be a positive legacy,for if she enraged the likes of these “She can’t be all bad”.

  7. David Brown says:

    But she put into practice the economic policies advocated by Enoch Powell. She stood for England and England’s enemies hate her. They don’t hate Blair or Cameron .

  8. AgainsTTheWall says:

    This is a fine article. One could also have mentioned the Public Order Act 1986 which has proved a stepping stone into our Orwellian present.

    Its a commonplace that Thatcher rejuventated the British economy. It really should be clear to all now that the times of plenty post the mid-80s were built on debt and funny money. How could it be otherwise when factories were closing everywhere? The price for this wrong-headedness has yet to be paid, it will be very heavy and will bear heaviest on those who were nt born when Thatcher came to power.

    • She got away with a good deal because the North Sea oil started flowing big time just as she came to power. She used that to cover horrors such over 3 million by the claimant count being unemployed.

  9. David Brown says:

    In here first year of office she abolished exchange controls – via the city the UK has a huge income from overseas investments .

  10. francis says:

    Well there’s one very dark secret the MSM don’t want you to know. And that is that Labour actually supported the Poll Tax, privatisation and so on.

    This is taken from Russia Today. Please get the word around because it will finish both Lab and Con in one go:-

    Economy, Politics, UK
    Eyebrows have been raised around the world to see Brits in their thousands dancing through the night in spontaneous street parties following the death of 1980s Prime Minister ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher.

    As the nickname suggests, she had a fearsome reputation round the world for hitting hard for Britain, but at home it was a different story. In the industrial North most knew several families who lost their livelihood on her watch. Londoners saw ominous shifting sands, homeless youngsters begging on the streets whom her regime had turned it’s back on.

    The taboo not a single commentator has broached though is the shadowy ‘advisory’ role played throughout her premiership by European banking fraternity’s Labour peer Lord Victor Rothschild. He was revealed in the book the Thatcher government tried to suppress, Peter Wright’s Spycatcher, to be behind London’s top secret service appointments. In 1986 Rothschild penned ‘Paying for Local Government’ the policy paper that led to the notorious Poll Tax that fell hardest on the poorest, and which brought Britons onto the streets of London in their hundreds of thousands in 1990, riots echoing London’s Poll Tax revolt of 1381.

    And according to the then BBC Chairman Marmaduke Hussey, Lord Victor also initiated the sacking in 1987 of the last independent-minded Director General of the BBC, a castration from which the corporation never quite recovered.

    One word captures the essence of the Thatcher legacy; ‘privatisation’. As an exasperated former Tory Prime Minster Harold Macmillan put it “she’s selling off the family silver!”. And so tens of mind-boggling billions of pounds of silver were auctioned off to the highest bidders, mostly to Rothschild’s kith and kin. From shipyards and public housing to telephones, steel, oil, gas and water, anyone in the world was free to own the infrastructure and manufacturing heart of Britain that was once collectively ‘ours’.

    Was this to pay the USA Lend-Lease second world war debts? To repay Britain’s humiliating 1976 IMF loan? Or simply to fill the hole left in the national accounts after Thatcher dropped income tax on Britain’s richest by more than half from 83% to 40%? Or was it just daylight robbery? When she refused to join the EMU, the forerunner to the vice-like Euro, she was promptly knifed in the back by those who sing her praises today.

    Since Thatcher, City institutions have bought up much of our politics and mass media, leaving a post-industrial wasteland ‘museum’ of a nation where the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently estimated six-and-a-half million British adults are being cruelly blamed, punished and made destitute for ‘not wanting’ full-time jobs, that don’t exist.

    Today the cracks that Margaret and Victor’s turbo-charged crowbar opened up have become a chasm which is reawakening this nation’s anger at injustice. The £10 million of taxpayers money being spent on Lady Thatcher’s state funeral, by the millionaires for the millionaires, is rubbing salt in the wounds. Hundreds of thousands of Britons who know right from wrong will turn away and raise a solemn glass to the damnation of Margaret Thatcher and her ‘rehabilitation of greed’ this week, demanding better. The sleeping giant of the British public is rousing from its slumber.

    People demonstrate in the streets of London, on July 06, 1984 against National Coal Board plans to shut 20 pits and lay off 20.000 miners (AFP Photo)

    As millionaire Prime Minister David Cameron reads the Christian eulogy at Lady Thatcher’s lavish funeral, those of Britain’s ruling class who still have something resembling a conscience will do well to heed them.

    Britain’s first woman Prime Minister – the Margaret Thatcher timeline

    1925 October 13 – Margaret Thatcher is born in the market town of Grantham, Lincolnshire
    1947 – Thatcher graduates from Oxford with a Chemistry degree
    1954 June 1 – Qualifies as a lawyer
    1970 – Enters the Cabinet as Education Secretary
    1975 February 11 – Elected Conservative Party leader, beating Edward Heath.
    1975-9 – Leader of the Opposition
    1979 May 4 – The Conservative Party wins the general election, Thatcher succeeds James Callaghan as PM
    1979 December 13 – Abolition of Exchange Controls
    1980 – Buses deregulated and bus routes privatised
    1980 – British Aerospace partly privatised
    1980 – April – Local Government stopped from building council homes and tenants given the right to buy
    1981 – March Prisoners at Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison go on hunger strike to regain status as political prisoners
    1981 – April-July Urban rioting in Brixton in London, Toxteth in Liverpool and St. Pauls in Bristol.
    1982 – January Unemployment tops 3 million
    1982 – April-June Falklands War
    1983 – Associated British Ports (ABP) privatised
    1983 – British Shipbuilding privatised
    1983 June 9 – Second term as PM begins; the Conservatives secure a landslide election victory
    1984-5 – Miners strike, amid the closure and privatisation of coal mines
    1984 – British Leyland car manufacturers privatised
    1984 October 12 – Narrowly escapes death after the IRA bombs the Conservative party conference in Brighton, killing 5
    1984 November – British Telecom (BT) the old Post Office Telecommunications is privatised
    1985 – Attempted suppression of former MI5 officer Peter Wright’s autobiography ‘Spycatcher’ which is then published in Australia & Scotland.
    1985 June 1 – Battle Of The Beanfield, Britain’s traveller peace convoy destroyed near Stonehenge, Wiltshire by violent police action as recorded in the ‘Operation Solstice’ documentary
    1986 – January Wapping dispute as Rupert Murdoch embraces electronic publishing and breaks the power of print unions, depicted in the documentary ‘Despite The Sun’
    1986 – British Airports Authority (BAA) privatised
    1986 – March Abolition of Ken Livingstone’s opposition Labour controlled Greater London Council or GLC
    1986 October 27 – Big Bang deregulation of the City of London financial sector which many believe contributed to the 2008 financial crisis
    1986 December – British Gas privatised
    1987 January – After several TV and radio programmes critical of the Thatcher government Victor Rothschild & Marmaduke Hussey sack BBC Director General Alasdair Milne
    1987 February – British Airways privatised
    1987 – Majority share in British Petroleum (BP) privatised
    1987 – Rolls Royce aero engines privatised
    1987 June 11 – Wins third term as Prime Minister
    1988 – British Steel privatised
    1989 – British Aerospace fully privatised
    1989 – Water Boards privatised
    1990 – The Electricity Act began the complex privatisation of electricity (except nuclear)
    1990 March 31 – Poll tax riots culminate in a 200,000 strong march on central London, as portrayed in The Battle Of Trafalgar documentary
    1990 October 30 – Thatcher No!, No!, No! speech in Commons makes it clear she is set against European Monetary and Political Union
    1990 November 13 – Geoffrey Howe resigns in protest at Thatcher’s refusal to agree a timetable for European Monetary Union
    1990 November 14 – Former cabinet minister Michael Heseltine challenges Margaret Thatcher for the party leadership
    1990 November 28 – Thatcher resigns, despite having won the first ballot. She is succeeded by John Major
    1992 – Thatcher leaves the House of Commons, joins the Lords as Baroness Thatcher
    1994 – Praises Tony Blair and New Labour as her proudest achievement
    2013 April 8 – Lady Thatcher dies in The Ritz hotel owned by Daily Telegraph proprietors the Barclay twins.

  11. David Brown says:

    on your list re some dates
    1979 December see my post above
    1980 The buses run on time now not in convoys – Aerospace a success
    1986 Has bought in vastly more income to the UK than cost of 2008 banking crisis. Which was more caused by Gordon Brown removing regulation by Bank Of England. The City is still a major source of income for UK thanks to her ,
    1990 October – Same as the publisher of englandcalling
    1994 What she meant is that Labour now believes in a free market not state run business . Labour used to run things eg money losing British Layland where it was more important to provide work for people in a specific location than produce cars that made a profit.

  12. David Brown says:

    http://www.amren.com has two interestiing articles and readers comments on Thatcher and her immigration views

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