Martin Bright

The FT Turns On Thatcherism

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 A truly magnificent piece by Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times yetsterday. An extremely nuanced argument, which ends with the following paragraph:

"One of Mrs Thatcher’s most famous phrases was: “There is no alternative.” As yet, no major political figure in Britain or the western world has really articulated a coherent alternative to the free-market principles inherited from Thatcherism. Until that happens, the Thatcher era will not be definitively over."

The rest of the piece, however, is an important deconstruction of the Thatcherite case for moral superiority. 

"Perhaps most damagingly, Thatcherism has lost the moral high ground. The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: “Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul.” She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The “something for nothing” society was over. 

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions."

We are living through a dangerous time when we risk a Conservative  government sweeping to power which has failed to recognise that 2009 is as significant a momemt for the champions of the free-market as 1989 was for those of us who called ourselves socialists.