Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Real Story of Thatcherism

It sort of just struck me today that tomorrow I'm going to be in London watching the coffin of Lady Thatcher, draped in the Union Flag, come past me. As that sentence alludes I am going to be lining the route with other members of Conservative Future to pay my respects. Thatcherism means quite a lot to me, not just because it's ideas are very similar to mine, but because without it my life would be completely different.

Corby Steel Works

My family all lived in Corby, essentially a massive Steel Works and Iron Ore mine employing almost all the population. A Labour safe seat from beginning of time with a Tory MP for the first time in 1983 because of Thatcher's success, gloss over Louise Mensch. By the 1980s the steel industry in Corby was essentially on its knees, it still employed virtually all the town and was a great engineering work, but the business side was virtually non-existent.

This is my Grandad, the one in the suit. He was a Tory voter, unlike the rest of his family (extended and close) who all voted Labour. He was essentially a construction worker specifically reinforcing concrete buildings with steel rods, he built a few notable buildings in Peterborough and Corby. He actually owned his own business, but like virtually everyone else in Corby lived in a council house. He continued to live in one until he bought his sometime in the early 80s. My Nana still lives there today.

My maternal Granddad was a Labour voter originally from Glasgow and worked in the Corby Steel mill itself. He used to work a crane about 30ft above the factory floor, which wasn't very healthy for him because one day he fell out and, luckily, only broke most of his ribs. He too bought his council house under Thatcher.

 The Right to Buy gave working class families freedom

My Dad's career in Corby before Thatcher was working in the Steel Mill too. He voted Conservative, but took part, against his will, in the Steel Strike of 1980. As I have said the steel industry was failing and so Ian MacGregor, then in charge of British Steel, wanted some voluntary redundancies. In response to this the Unions called a strike, this was before any of the Thatcher Union Legislation so there was no ballot or, and demanded a 20% pay increase as well as no redundancies. Not a very proportionate response. So my dad had to go on strike, with not that much strike pay, for over 3 months. In the end I don't think he quite liked the Unions, this wasn't the first walk out they had done whilst he was there.

The Steel Strike of 1980 lasted for 13 weeks

My Dad thus took another job in marketing. He was able to do so because of Thatcher creating an economic boom in the economy so that there were more businesses and less dead industries. To qualify my Dad got a diploma in marketing, another thing Thatcher essentially allowed people to do. She gave people with aspiration of all classes the ability to actually improve their lives rather be stuck in the rut of socialism which kept class stable allowing no progress.

So that's my Who Do You think You Are moment. Without Thatcher I would be living in a Council House in Corby with not that much to look forward to. That's why, not just for the politics, I'm making the journey to pay my respects. Thatcher allowed the working class of this country on the basis of merit to aspire and achieve something. She brought freedom in a more revolutionary way than Marx or anybody else in Britain. I don't really believe in class myself, I have no time for societal snobbery, although a lot of Lefties do. I'm a lot better off because of her.

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