Thatcher legacy debate – part 4

Emilio Valli •                        Soviet Union. Margaret Thatcher had been inspired by the Solidarity movement in Poland and she wanted to win the Cold War by encouraging the people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, to rise up. She was the first world leader to draw the conclusions from the struggle of Solidarity, that the Soviet Union and her satellite regimes in Eastern Europe must eventually collapse for lack of popular support and economic failure. Her belief and policy to diffuse the Cold War, resulted in the popularization of the concept of Civil Society worldwide. Who had heard of Civil Society before her tenure as Prime Minister, aside  from the minority of scholars debating the concept?

 
Margaret Thatcher was also a brilliant analytical thinker with a scientific academic background and she often consulted with academic experts on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to identify agents of changes in the Politburos of the Communist Parties. She was always the first, among the Western Leaders, to establish a cooperative dialogue with the more ‘liberal’ elements of the Communist Parties behind the Iron Curtain. In February 1984, she visited Hungary, selected as one part of the Soviet sphere of influence which was marginally freer than the rest , to have a long dialogue with Janos Kadar who apparently filled her in on the personalities to watch in the Kremlin. Not long after that meeting she seized the initiative to invite Gorbachev in Britain, when he was the youngest member of the Soviet Politburo.

 
The experience confirms that her vision was well grounded in first-hand knowledge which she skillfully used to devise a winning policy that eventually contributed to hasten the demise of the Soviet empire.

Rocky Lockwood •                        If the liberal democracies are not thriving, what is? As to the “few mega-rich so called “industrialists”…that is just inaccurate, the overall economic state of the planet has improved…I remember the 70’s, there really is no comparison, maybe in all of history, for the level of material wealth that is being enjoyed worldwide…if Communism had not been slowed, it is difficult to imagine that the growth occurring.

Sally Norman •                        Keith, you say that the Falklands conflict could have been avoided. How? The Argentinians invaded a British protectorate and Britain responded. What should Mrs T have done? Hand over a sovereign country? I think not.

 
On a general note, prior to Mrs T’s premiership this country was being controlled by communist infiltrators of the unions. Does anyone remember Red Robbo who almost single-handedly brought down British Leyland? I remember the dark days before she took over – when the unions downed tools at the drop of a hat and the dead went unburied – and as young as I was I was relieved that someone actually stood up to the unions at last.

 
She certainly had a hand in bringing the Cold War to an end and I do think that her statesmanship has not been matched by any leader since.

Keith Melton •                        Sally, The point is that the Government should have paid more attention BEFORE the military action started. Against the advice of the British navy, Thatcher withdrew the patrolling ship, giving a very clear signal that the government regarded the South Atlantic as less important than other defence objectives. The Argentinian Junta took the signal at face value and, allegedly, Galtieri ordered the invasion when he was drunk – that may be apocryphal though?

 
And you read too much right-wing propaganda. Red-Robbo might have contributed to the problems of British Leyland but the major problem was extremely poor management and the lack of plans to replace ageing car designs. Instead of planning for future markets the management had to resort to cost-cutting programmes which upset the workforce, giving the unions, and the extremists in those unions, an easy target. The ordinary workers felt they were being let down by management again and again – sadly true.

 
Rocky – you don’t read enough English papers, let me quote a couple of things for you, the quotes are taken from articles which appeared on Google after I put in the expression “russians owning football clubs” – try it:-

 
“FOOTBALL IS being systematically carved up by moguls with clear or suspected roots in the former Soviet Union”, commented the right-wing Daily Mail (2 September 2012) in an exposé of football’s new round of dodgy deals. “Their mission is to corner the global market in talent.

 
MSI is being investigated in Brazil over concerns of money laundering. MSI is a subsidiary of a secret offshore company based in the Virgin Islands being investigated by Brazil’s organised crime taskforce after its takeover in 2004 of Corinthians, one of the giants of South American football.

 
According to a report obtained by The Guardian newspaper, “sufficient indices [exist] to show that the partnership MSI-Corinthians is being used to practice the laundering of money”. (14 September 2012) The report alleges that money was laundered on behalf of the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky

 
In 1988, as Perestroika opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Soviet Union, Abramovich got a chance to legitimize his underworld business. He and Olga set up a company making dolls. “It brought success almost immediately,” says Olga. Due to his business acumen, within a few years his wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms and he also started investing in other businesses. Abramovich set up and liquidated at least 20 companies during the early 1990s, in sectors as diverse as tire retreading and bodyguard recruitment. – Wikipedia. [Abramovitch owns Chelsea football club]

 
And, finally, Rocky, check out the unemployment levels in many of the European “liberal democracies” – Greece, for example 26.4%, Spain, 26.3% , Portugal 17.5%

Sally Norman •                        Keith. Removing the patrol ship gave Galtieri NO rights to invade. The Falklands were, and still are, British. She was right to retaliate. War is war and whether or not she gloated, she was 100% behind our soldiers which is more than can be said of Cameron and Blair.

 
As for your comment about reading too much right-wing propaganda, that comment sounds rather patronising, which I hope was not meant. I am old enough to remember the Red Robbo days and whilst I will agree about bad management, constant strikes were not the answer and merely play into the hands of those with the ultimate control. Britain was the laughing-stock of the world in the 70s and, like it or not, Mrs T ended that.

Keith Melton

Keith Melton •                        No – it was not meant to be patronising – I was merely being flippant – please accept my apologies. But the right-wing press did have a field day with “Red Robbo” as anyone can tell from his tabloid-derived nickname. And I remember having to explain to bemused foreigners that ‘not everyone supported Mrs Thatcher’ – usually gaining the response of a thankful sigh! But I guess that sort of thing depends upon your perspective.

 

Mine was as a radical Liberal, despite how apparently respectable I look now with my grey hair. By the way I did not say Galtieri had any RIGHT to invade, far from it. But the withdrawal was a strategic mistake that could and should have been avoided.

About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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