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Spengler

Goodbye to Blighty?

April 11th, 2013 - 11:01 am

It’s revolting to watch the outpouring of morbid glee at the death of Baroness Thatcher from the British left–not from Occupy Wall Street fringe elements, but from trade union leaders and senior Labor MPs. London’s Daily Mail today reports:

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: ‘Mrs Thatcher will be remembered by many for the destructive and divisive policies she reigned over which in the end, even in the Tory Party, proved to be her downfall. Her legacy involves the destruction of communities, the elevation of personal greed over social values and legitimising the exploitation of the weak by the strong.’

Labour shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont came under fire for ‘condoning’ an inflammatory tweet about the former Conservative prime minister. He was accused of being ‘extremely foolish’ when he described a university student’s political views as ‘spot-on’ following a reference to Lady Thatcher a ‘f***** witch’.

Dancing on the grave of one’s political opponents is unthinkable in American terms. In part this is because any American president bears the dignity of the office of head of state, while a British prime minister is a servant of the sovereign. But that does not explain the eruption of hatred against a dignified, intelligent, and principled woman who led her country longer than any 20th-century prime minister–almost as long as Franklin Roosevelt led the United States. This eruption of hatred is inexcusable. But it is not entirely inexplicable.

The victory of the West in the Cold War would have been impossible without her. The book to read is The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister, by her close adviser and friend John O’Sullivan (I reviewed it when it first appeared in 2007).

Baroness Thatcher was a great woman, one of the few political leaders to change a country’s direction for the better. During the 11 years of her ministry the compound annual growth rate of per capita real national income was 2.5%, compared to just 1.9% during the preceding 11 years of (mainly) Labour governments. She believed in free markets and unleashed a wave of creative destruction that reshaped much of England.

I spent two years in London as a graduate student in the mid-1970s, when the city had a characteristic stink: few had central heating and all the buildings reeked of mildew. Civil servants wore old shirts with frayed collars and smoked their cigarettes down to the stub. Billboards advertised “barley wine” as the drink with the most alcohol for the money. The docklands looked like a post-apocalyptic ruin. When I came back to London as an investment banker in the 1990s, it was a transformed city. The docklands had become prime real estate and the city overflowed with money. Taxi drivers speculated in the real estate market and immigrants from all over Europe flocked to London; there were French bus drivers, Spanish waiters, Portuguese hotel staff, and Polish carpenters. It was a pleasure to hear Jamaican cabdrivers inveigh against the lazy (overwhelmingly white) spongers living on the dole in the Midlands and the north of England, while good jobs went to foreigners.

Last month I stopped briefly in London for business, and found myself hoping that I never would return; it reminds me too much of what might become of us. It is the great capital city of a great nation where the British are entirely marginalized. At the top, Arab and Russian money has turned Knightsbridge and Belgravia and South Kensington into an impossibly priced theme park for absentee owners. At the bottom, what used to be the Cockney London–within earshot of the bells of the Bow Church–has become Little Bengal.

It is wicked for the British Left to celebrate Baroness Thatcher’s death, but even wickedness has its reasons. She removed state subsidies for coal mining and other inefficient state-supported industries and turned the entrepreneurs lose. The entrepreneurs exploited Britain’s comparative advantage as a global metropole for finance and trade.

Proportion of UK GDP by Sector

Industry (including energy) fell from 35% of GDP in 1980 to just 15% today, while finance rose from 17% to 34%–a staggering GDP contribution, according to OECD data. The world’s investment banking talent poured into London, and the trading floors of the global firms became polyglot pirate ships. London became the great center for derivatives and structured products in particular.

In 2004 a Bank of America colleague invited me to hear the triennial piano competition at Leeds, the largest city in Yorkshire. Once a great northern industrial city, the great mills of Leeds were now clubs where the city’s youth drank and vomited out their weekly stipends every Saturday evening. The north of England is for the most part a post-industrial moonscape of poverty and ruin. The great wealth of the financial sector in the southeast never made it to the north–which explains why Thatcher’s Conservatives have become a southeastern party.

England was especially hard hit by the financial crisis of 2008, given the economy’s huge dependency on financial services. Even so (as the diagram below from the UK statistics office shows) the rest of England suffered far more than London and its environs.

 

 

This was not Baroness Thatcher’s fault. The jobs were there, but the people of the de-industrialized north left them to immigrants, preferring to remain state dependents. London became a paradise for upwardly-mobile, enterprising young people from all over Europe and beyond, but a monument of envy for the rancorous north. History, to paraphrase Friedrich Schiller, brought forth a great moment, but the moment encountered a mediocre people. A large part of the British population sees no benefit from the growth that Thatcher’s free-market reforms set in motion. Don’t bother to explain to them that without the entrepreneurial boom in banking, Britain would not have had the money to keep them on the dole. Don’t bother to explain to them that the same trends continued under Tony Blair’s Labor government. They will still hate Baroness Thatcher to the point of dancing on her grave.

It is disturbing to think that Margaret Thatcher might have led the last wave of British national feeling. Her body was presented today at the altar of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the national shrine where Britain interred its greatest military heroes, Nelson and Wellington. It is getting harder hard to find Britons who are still patriots, that is, who still believe in their nation’s special virtues.

If we become a nation of takers, as Nicholas Eberstadt titled his 2012 book on the explosion of state dependency, we will emulate our mother country in its decline. I don’t want to go to London any more. It frightens me.

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Top Rated Comments   
She saved her country from the leftists and the leftists from themselves for an entire generation, but they are too ignorant to understand that. And for those few who do understand, it is just another reason to hate her since everything she believed and everything she accomplished proved how wrong and destructive their own beliefs and actions are. These people aren't fit to say her name let alone criticize her.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was time to say "Goodbye to Blighty" back in the '90s, when masses of Britons went hysterical about Princess Diana's death. That was a major sign that something was very rotten in British culture. Like in the USA, the seeds had long been present for the destruction of Britain, and politically, Tony Blair's "New Labour" and the hapless post-Thatcher "Conservatives" pushed that destruction along more quickly, with mass immigration, bad economic policies, cultural Marxism, etc.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Leftism lacks grace, honor, loyalty and morals.

In order to be a leftist, one must be both a coward and a traitor at their core. It does not work any other way. And when people do not succumb, it must be brutish.

We make the grand blunder by allowing leftism to hide in plain sight as "liberalism". It is nothing of the sort. It is not tolerant, compassionate, or soft. It is instead, hard, ugly and thuggish. Leftism is a bully and modern liberalism is the ignorant toady that tags along.

We don't need to shame liberals into not being toadies as much as we need to shame conservatives for not standing up for their countries. Scratch a bully and a coward bleeds. But cower from a bully...and we all will bleed in the end.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (33)
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David, are you really surprised of the behaviour of Lefties? These are the same people who riot at G8-20 conferences, shout down conservative speakers such as Ann Coulter, Netanyahu, etc, ban pro-lifers on university campuses, use obscenities in government debates (Try looking at Canada's Parliamentary debates), align with Islamists, haul conservatives before kangaroo human rights courts and insult devout religious people, such as myself, a Catholic.
The good news is, as you've mentioned, that they don't have many children. So, I'm not totally without hope.
Keep up the great work exposing them.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This reminds me to once again post my favorite Robert Heinlein quote: Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”

Or, as one commenter on Instapundit says: “Or as some would say: ‘You didn’t build that,’” Glenn added last year when he quoted Robert Heinlein.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While I think this is essentially correct there are a couple of other factors that need to be taken into account.

1) The success of London and the South East didn't just draw people from other countries it also pulls in the best and the brightest from the rest of England/Britain.

2) National pay rates in the public sector , combined with low costs of living in the regions mean that the best and brightest that are left behind in the regions can get a better standard of living , at little risk, by working in the public sector than they would if they were in the private sector.

Point 1 has always been a factor but I believe has been increased with the rise of the finanacial sector based in London.

The current government is making some small steps to getting rid of the national pay rates and this should help the regions in the long run, but doesn't help them in the short term as it leads to more of point 1 and takes money out of the local economy.

A related problem to the malaise in the UK is the politics of envy, constantly demonising the succesful doesn't lead to more success.

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your trip to Leeds, if you think leeds is bad I wonder what you would make of the rest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The flip side is however that with such a response they do more than show their malice. They show to the world what an impact Mrs. Thatcher had on them. Impact on them.

Mustn't forget that no hatred is so great as that for one's benefactor.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Spoiled really does mean spoiled........rotten. The decay and smell is more then I can stomach anymore. Here and abroad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, but it's worse than that.
Many miss the real lesson: the widespread disgust about the wickedness and immaturity of the British left hides the impotent response of their opponents. Would any sane person nominate Cameron, the great plate-faced addle-pated mediocrity of the English-speaking world, as their champion?

All the harrumphing in all the world doesn't alter a thing: the good guys are losing everywhere. We need hunting parties that target the left from all directions. Instead, we have the GOP.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" Don’t bother to explain to them that the same trends continued under Tony Blair’s Labor government. They will still hate Baroness Thatcher to the point of dancing on her grave."

There's really only one answer then: arrange for Thatcher to be buried at sea. That will take care of her bitterest critics ;-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is of course evil, depraved and most improper to speak ill of the dead,
especially a great and respected person like Margaret Thatcher.
These Britisg liberal thugs, who simply don't know any better will also reap
their 'reward' later on.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That would be a slime dance I presume.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I understand that those same unions who blame Thatcher for "destroying communities" (a dys-phemism for ending wasteful subsidies, especially to the coal mining industry) do not hate the environmentalist movement when it destroys jobs. What I don't understand is how that irony is lost on the far left which demonizes Thatcher for "destroying" jobs and communities. They're not idiots after all. My only thought is that they think it's not OK to "destroy" jobs in order to make a business more profitable, but it's certainly OK to destroy jobs if it's for a "good cause" (i.e., furthers whatever happens to have a higher priority for the left at any given moment). What I don't understand is the utter lack of cognitive dissonance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep - London is an international city that has nothing to do with the rest of Britain. It may as well have its own currency. And it's surrounded by a third world, multiculturalist dump of a country.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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