Greer on Thatcher……….

I was pleased to see that on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Mrs.Thatcher’s election Germaine Greer has found time to produce (and The Guardian found space to publish) a long well-researched and well-argued essay that puts paid some of the myths that have for all too long hung around the so-called Iron Lady.

The notion that Thatcherism is 30 years old may be beguiling, but it is essentially misleading. Thatcher’s job was to present strategies that had been tried before in a way that would make them acceptable to a new generation of voters. She was not herself an economist, and her understanding of the how of what she wanted to do lagged way behind her understanding of the what, but even that was never more than superficial. She urged Britain to be great again, lamented the very thought that Britain was in decline, spoke of herself as following in “Winston’s” footsteps – all nonsense that, recycled through the tabloid press, made her look and sound heroic. ……………

……….She never defined an overall strategy, developed no theory of the state, had scant regard for democracy, and no scruples whatsoever. Thatcher’s Thatcherism was whatever worked. Thatcherism is now being vilified throughout the English-speaking world as an evil ideology that exalted greed and selfishness to the point of unstringing the sinews of the body politic. It was never anything so systematic.

…..Thatcher’s rather patchy ideology became the new consensus by default. In November 1984 the Financial Times pointed out that “Thatcherite economic policies are not very different from or better or worse than those to which other European governments, whether called conservative as in Germany or socialist as in France, have found their way.”

Greer’s asides, in some ways, tell you all you need to know about Thatcher.

She was fond of saying that she knew her own mind, but that was really all she knew..

……What is clear from any reading of the vast mass of documentation of the Thatcher years is that Thatcher herself is not the author of Thatcherism, which is a thing of shreds and patches. It was put together, as her public persona was, in response to a series of pressures originating in circumstances beyond government control.

…..The words she uttered were written for her by Ronald Millar, and subsequently tinkered with by her. Millar, a playwright, used to say that he treated her like an actress before a performance. He did not say, as others might have, that she was a bad actress, which she certainly was. Whether she was intoning the prayer of St Francis on the steps of Downing Street or gushing about the capitalist system being divinely ordained, she was unconvincing. A particular problem was that she never understood any of the jokes that Millar and Bell wrote for her.

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