April 19, 2013

Thatcher, Blair, Labour's Clause 4 Moment and why Miliband is Wrong

Image by Morten Morland.
What spoof and delusion we heard from Ed Miliband on the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. He said:
“The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did.”
Tony Blair, the last elected labour Prime Minister was the Iron Ladies’ chief ideological heir. His ‘Clause Four Moment’ changed Labour from a party that championed unions, the lower classes and socialist thinking into a party that wanted to work with the ambitious middles classes and a party that wanted to foster a liberal, outward looking economy.
Ultimately, the coming of Blair and New Labour was the utter vindication of Thatcherism. In 2002 Thatcher he was asked what she regarded as her greatest achievement. The Iron Lady replied:
“Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their minds.”
Miliband may disagree and he may deeply dislike what Thatcher did. But the reality is Thatcher’s Labour government successors did little to change the policies she implemented.
So what does that say about Labour? You would tend to say that they largely agreed with what she did.
Former Labour frontbencher in the Blair cabinet rightly said that Thatcher “reframed British politics”. He added:
“I think what she was right to do was to bring home to us the reality that Britain could not afford rampant inflation, that state monopolies needed commercialising, that personal tax rates were too high and that enterprise was too unrewarding.”
“She was also right to argue that deregulation can be a valuable spur to innovation and efficiency and of course she tackled what was then a very disruptive and irresponsible trade union culture.
He did add a qualification, saying that “the truth is also that in cutting back the state necessarily, she overlooked what the state can also do successfully.”
Fair enough. Us Thatcherites see her fallibility. She is not without criticism. However it is clear that the modern Labour Party is a continuance of the Thatcher legacy.
Though Miliband’s contribution seems to say otherwise…
No doubt the debate will roll on, but at least the current leader of the Labour Party had the grace to acknowledge her passing and the contribution she made to Great Britain.
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