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The same one who closed all those Grammer schools?

Surely not.

As we've been reminded recently, she didn't do much for the grammar schools...

Having said which, I can't think of much else to say against her. I can't think what competition she could have for such an accolade.

On this subject, have the BBC ever announced who won that best Prime Minister vote? If so I've missed it - did they see Mrs Thatcher triumphing easily and decide to quietly drop the thing?

Good point 601. The same people who condemn David Cameron for his policy on grammars will be on this thread praising the woman who as Education Minister closed many such schools. HYPOCRISY!

Can I be the first to say yes, she most certainly is.

Yes, a great woman, a great political leader. Her reforms were desperately needed and brilliantly executed. But her job was left unfinished! Some areas of British life she did nothing to repair. In particular, the spread of cultural Marxism in our schools, the BBC, the Police, the criminal justice system. "Political Correctness" was born in the 1980s. She may have seen it, but she had no time or energy left to fight it.

I certainly can't think of anyone more deserving of such an honour. It would be hard to disagree with anything in The Sun's article, although doubtless some will do their best!

As for grammars, the commenters above have missed the point. The problem with the recently stated policy on grammars is the left-wing rhetoric used against them. There has been much argument about free school meals as a measure of equality, but none about the quality of education provided by schools. That isn't Conservatism.

A very great leader. One that we got behind despite, if you remember, the arguments about her when she first stood. Lesson to be learnt there me thinks. The big issue now is not economic crisis and getting the country onto the first step in terms of stopping restrictive practices and being competitive. Thanks to Maggie that's done. The issue now genuinely is social responsibility and that is a deeply Conservative agenda. Lets all work to make it happen and make another fantastic contribution to the history of our great nation. This is catually an exciting time to be a Conservative - we now have most of the councillors, run most of the councils, are winning seats in Wales & the North again and are ahead in the polls. Wakle up, go out and win folks,


Agree totally with what you say, MagicAldo and Mrs T certainly deserves this award. Your comments about the BBC, the Police and Criminal Justice system and the spread of political correctness and cultural marxism are absolutely right. A great deal remained undone - but to be fair, sorting these matters out would be a labour very similar to Hercules cleansing the Augean Stables!!!

Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have missed the chance to attack Broon for evading responsibilites for making the tax system harder to comprehend, for the social engineereing behind the Tax Credit Scheme, and Broon's 'disappearance' after the Scottish debarcle.

As for the dual or its it duel premiership of Blair/Brown, I doubt that she wouldn't have missed the chance to ask who is PM? Why do we need two men for this job, another example of socialist overmanning.

Unless 'Dave' Camoron gets his act together pdq he will show that isn't fit to clean her shoes.

A great woman certainly. Courageous ,clear thinking and determined undoubtedly. She was nevetheless very divisive and made some mistakes (Single European Act?) which have had profound consequences for our country.
If the vote was on the greatest living politician I would certainly vote for her.But as it isn't my vote would go to the Queen who has devoted her entire life to the service of this country and in my humble opinion has done it extraordinarily well.

The economy only grew about 2 per cent a year from 1979-90, so there was no real economic miracle in the Thatcher years; this despite having over 100 billions pounds worth of tax revenue from North Sea Oil and 50 billions pounds from the sale of state assets. She talked about ending the dependency culture, rightly so yet her lunatic monetarist policies (which at one point saw interest rates at 17 per cent) put millions out of work. She talked about creating a home-owning democracy, rightly so yet many people struggled to pay off their mortgage back in the 1980s. She talked about cutting inflation when she came into office yet she doubled VAT (so much for lower taxes). Of course she did some good things such as privatisation, trade union reform, lowering direct taxes, council house sales but let's not eulogise about her as right-wing fanatics in the media have done. Macro-economically (growth, inflation, interest rates etc) her record was nothing special. Manufacturing output was barely higher in 1987 than in 1979. And I don't believe that all those business which went bust in the early 80s were old-fashioned antiquites. Good businesses such as ICI suffered in that recession as well as a lot of inefficient ones. If there had to be changes the medicine needn't have been so severe. The pain could have been alleviated with reflationary, Keynesian style budgets. We had a very severe recession (1979-81) and the start of an even longer one towards the end of her reign and a reckless boom in-between. Health care, education, public transport were all badly underfunded. The nations's infrastucture started to crumble.
Ian Gilmour's brilliant book, Dancing with Dogma - Britain under Thatcherism is the best, most objective version on the Thatcher years. He points out quite rightly that there was no economic miracle in the 1980s except for the rich and that had the tax revenues from North Sea Oil been used for massive investment in the nation's social, physical and industrial infrastructure Britain could have experienced a real economic miracle similar to post-war West Germany. Norway used it's tax revenues from oil and gas wisely and it is now one of the best and richest countries in the world to live in. The 80s were years of wasted opportunities. And did the poll tax reduce the 'tax burden' on ordinary families?
Thatcher was at best a good prime minister but never a great one, she only won landslide victories because of Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot. The vast majority of Britons are not 'Thatcherites'.
Can someone who once said that 'a world with nuclear weapons is safer than one without them' and 'any man who over the age of 26 travels to work by bus can consider himself a failure in life' be regarded as having a sound mind and fit to govern a great nation?
And those Tories who hanker after a grammer school in every town should remember that Thatcher as education secretary and prime minister presided over the closure of more grammar schools than Shirley Williams.

"Good point 601. The same people who condemn David Cameron for his policy on grammars will be on this thread praising the woman who as Education Minister closed many such schools. HYPOCRISY!"

Thatcher's cockup with the grammars tends to be overlooked because she was soundly right-wing in other areas and transformed the country. Furthermore, seeing as the economic battles of the 80s were won, it is time to fight new battles in the public services.

"The pain could have been alleviated with reflationary, Keynesian style budgets."

The Japanese tried that and got nowhere. Had Thatcher taken the Keynesian path I suspect inflation would not have been conquered.

'any man who over the age of 26 travels to work by bus can consider himself a failure in life'

She never said that, actually.....

The early Thatcher governments had a 'paranoia' and 'neurosis' about inflation which was totally unjustified. There is no link between the money supply and inflation except in certain cases. Inflation is by and large linked to costs. Even Milton Freidman discounted monetarism before he died. In fact Richard, Mrs Thatcher did adopt Keynesian-style measures around 1986-87 with a combination of tax cuts and increased public investment, the economy boomed and unemployment fell, trouble was that the measures came too late.

The idea that Thatcherism was unnecessary and that more "gentle" policies would have achieved the same results with less pain is the kind of idiotic complacency that could only result from life in a post-Thatcher economy. How tragic that our collective memories are so short! That "Keynesianism" should still have advocates after the lessons of the 1970s is simply staggering. I despair.

Obviously yes as a political leader - no contest surely? [Any votes for Blair?!!] Some might postulate Tony Benn, but that is as a personality not for anything he achieved in office.

One possible rival candidate might be Her Majesty the Queen? But probably unseemly for her to compete, or for others to promote her in such a competition.

The only other question is whether these two wonderful women - so different but so complementary in representing the best of the British spirit - have any rivals for absolute greatness in some scientific, literary or artistic sphere. In science, some might say Hawkins? The greatest living novelists such as Martin Amis and Ian McKewan don't really measure against Dickens, Austen, Hardy or George Elliot, methinks, whereas Mrs T and Her Maj are at least in the same league in their public lives as Peel, Gladstone and Queen Victoria (although could not rival Gladstone in all round greatness and range - what PM now would translate Greek verse into English verse between Cabinet meetings?) There may be some great scientist doing work in a fast advancing field such as genetics who is little known to ignoramuses like me, but I think these things are more team efforts now.

In spheres like poetry and music, there were many more great people in the first half of the 20th century than now. Perhaps a valid debate would be: why were there so many more great British people 1850-1950, compared with so few now? Was there more opportunity then, or have we just become flabby and complacent in this comfortable modern age?

"The idea that Thatcherism was unnecessary and that more "gentle" policies would have achieved the same results with less pain is the kind of idiotic complacency that could only result from life in a post-Thatcher economy"

Given Heath attempted it and failed, as did, to the extent to which they tried, the subsequent Labour government, the evidence rather supports that.

Now that Ted has passed away such a vote and accolade can be given without the ill-mannered sulk.
We cannot thank Maggie enough for dragging this country out of the rat hole labelled union fascism.
DC needs to be true to her legacy, it worked and made Britain, Great again.

MagicAldo; I remember Andrew Neil, a supply-side Keynesian and certainly no leftie calling for an end to severe fiscal and monetary policies in the Sunday Times sometime in the mid-to-late 80s. He called for a 'Budget for Jobs' based on tax cuts and increased public investment (i.e. Keynesian measures) and said that Thatcherism had failed to sufficiently reverse Britain's economic decline. Even Gordon Brown has said that Thatcher didn't go far enough in creating an 'enterprise culture'.
The truth is that pure Thatcherism doesn't work.
Many people on this blog have been hypnotised by Sun/Mail/Express and Telegraph rhetoric. Accept that Thatcher's record was mixed and not as good as the right-wing press claim.
Look at Norway, it has no national debt and it's currency the krona is one of the strongest in the world, and has a very high income per head. Part of this is because it used it's tax revenues from North Sea Oil and Gas wisely unlike Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s.
Ian Botham not Margaret Thatcher gets my vote as the greatest living Briton.

'any man who over the age of 26 travels to work by bus can consider himself a failure in life'

She never said that, actually.....

Posted by: DavidDPB | May 18, 2007 at 10:37

Indeed. Nor did Cameron say 'hug a hoodie'.

Actually i'm a bit suspicious of people who don't travel by bus. Not in a that one there's a bit funny, always in one of them cars when he's not book-learning suspicious type way. More that I think you learn such interesting things about modern life if you spend lots of time on buses, including: don't rush, there's no point; we are breeding a lack of civilisation into our children, many of whom are inarticulate to the point of violence; many people in the service industry can't communicate in standard English; Ken Livingstone is a farce; bendy buses are an insanity; and, just when you're getting to the point of despair ("Bring Back Anything! Now! Including Things I Didn't Want Brung In The First Place!"), something wonderful will happen between two strangers ('want to sit down, love?' 'Polski! this is your stop! Go dahn them steps for the tube', 'can I help you with that buggy?') and your faith in humanity is restored.

It's like reading a Dickens novel in 15 minutes, without all the silly character names or trite socialism, and it gets you to Liverpool Street. The alternative is to be sucked into the bowels of the Earth and funnelled in that smelly tube thing.

So she was wrong about that - thank goodness - as she was right about everything else.

It is always unfair to assess GDP data without adjusting for cylical factors. Whilst it is true that UK GDP per capita rose only 2.0%pa between 1979-90, it is also true that it rose 2.9%pa between 1981-1990. What neither of these raw numbers properly convey is the truth that everyone actually living through that period knows in their bones. That is that this country's economy turned a corner. It became observably more entrepreneurial and welcoming to wealth creation. It freed itself from the negative effects of union militancy and high taxation. The legacy was not only felt during the period of Mrs Thatcher's government, but also in all subsequent periods that benefited from the changes she helped bring about.


Mrs T was the best Conservative Prime Minister of the post-war period. Militant lefty Miners- defeated. Argentinian junta- defeated. Labour- defeated. Post-war decline- an improvement on the disaster left by 1970's Labour. Cold-war - ended. This notion that the Thatch was unpopular in most of Britain is a manufactured lie from those lefties she trampled all over. I recall the 1987 election - in our 5th form most of us proudly wore the ' I love Maggie' stickers! So much for 1980's disaffected youth! I'm afraid Cameron does not have the gravitas to even fill her shoes as a great Conservative leader. He's like a slightly more intelligent James Fleet in 'The Vicar of Dibley.'

Yes. Next question?

After weeks of vigorous (and often abusive debate) it's great to see the readers of CONHOME unite around a common cause.

Thatcher is without doubt the greatest living Briton and should win the award with little competition. There is no need to list her many achievements, we all know what they are....

Even the all time 'Greatest Briton' Winston Churchill had many flaws.

Mrs.T had(has!) flaws too, it makes her human. It does not detract from her deserving the 'Greatest Living Briton'.

Wont it 'pee off' the BBC if she got it!

Andrew Marr on the BBC website:

"I was a typical anti-Thatcher young hack who has come to see that she was the most important, and bravest, as well as luckiest, prime minister in the whole post-war period."


Assuming she qualifies as a "Briton", I would have said HM The Queen.

Yes, Yes, Yes

I'll repeat a piece I wrote on my blog a while ago:

Was Thatcher really a Thatcherite?

Following on from my earlier post about Prime Ministerial legacies, I've been reminded that whilst it is no secret that the Thatcher government did many things the left don’t approve of, it is more surprising that there is a lot that can be said against it from a right wing perspective.

Both Thatcherite and Anti-Thatcherite legends tell us that between 1979 and 1990 the Thatcher government set about a continuous process of "rolling back the frontiers of the state", limiting the amount of legislation passed, aggressively promoting the private sector over the public, reducing central controls, respecting individual liberty, taking a firm course in foreign policy standing up for the UK's interests and actively defending its sovereignty, pursuing a free floating pound and so much more.

So how is this compatible with a government that shadowed the Deutshmark before signing up to the Exchange Rate Mechanism? A government which signed both the Single European Act and the Anglo-Irish Agreement? A government which time and again introduced new controls such as the Dangerous Dogs Act, or considered others such as limiting attendance at football matches to club supporters (before the industry and sanity prevailed)? A government which emasculated local government, introducing stringent central controls right down to dictating a National Curriculum and passing legislation to bar local authorities "promoting" things? A government which intervened to keep ball by ball cricket commentary on the public sector broadcaster rather than leaving it to the free market? A government that kept up a relentless stream of new legislation passed? A government which participated in the "nationalisation of blame" by making many things a matter for government and legislation, with the result that by 1990 numerous questions were asked at PMQs about subjects that in 1979 would have been considered "not a government matter"?

A government that was "the most centralizing, regulatory and interfering [government] that the country had ever had"?

Much could be said on this and there is clearly scope for a right wing critical history of the Thatcher years. But one thing is clear – Thatcher was never so strident and vocal in her early years in power. It was only towards the end of the 1980s that the government began to sound ever more distant from the centre, and that was when things started going wrong.

The idea that strident Thatcherism was electorally successful in and of itself is also hard to maintain – the Conservatives in the 1980s repeatedly polled shares of the vote than in earlier years confined them to opposition and much soul searching. Conservative electoral success was built on a divided opposition and the ability to answer the question "Can Britain be governed" at a time when many in politics were losing their nerve. Those who presently advocate a "return to Thatcherism" or even to go further (look for example at the way certain Thatcherite groups welcomed the introduction of university tuition fees and their subsequent extension, despite there being no such fees when Thatcher was either Education Secretary or Prime Minister) would do well to ponder that.

"After weeks of vigorous (and often abusive debate) it's great to see the readers of CONHOME unite around a common cause."

I'll take that challenge!

First up, I'll acknowledge that there are a few positive developments that can be attributed to Thatcher: lifting Britain's national confidence after the Falklands War, partially reviving the British economy after the disastrous 1970s (although things couldn't really have got much worse), not allowing the trade unions to hold the country to ransom, winning a rebate from the EU budget, giving people the right to buy council homes and her role in the supporting cast as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War.

Having acknowledged all that, I will dispute that the title of 'Greatest Living Briton' should be awarded to a woman responsible for: sinking the Belgrano whilst it was outside the exclusion zone in the Falklands and sailing away from confrontation, flogging arms to Saddam Hussein, turning a blind eye to the widespread human rights abuses presided over by Augusto Pinochet and obstructing attempts to make the monster atone for his crimes, obstructing international attempts to introduce sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa (in favour of the ineffective policy of a diplomatic slap on the wrist), destroying much of the British manufacturing industrial base, rocketing unemployment, unprecedented economic and social polarisation in Britain, long-lasting sociological damage to entire communities outside southern England... the list goes on and on.

There is arguably no living Briton that has divided the country, both physically and mentally, as much as Thatcher, making her credentials to be awarded the title of 'Greatest Living Briton' rather dubious, to say the least.

Is Mrs T the greatest living Briton? Yes! Who are the alternatives?

Is Mrs T the greatest living Briton? Yes! Who are the alternatives?

Daniel VA:
I read your post three times and to say you are a Tory and I a Labour supporter I could not agree with anybody more if I tried now until doomsday. Your opinion regarding Margaret Thatcher is exactly the same as mine.
Contrary to what most Tories think there are a lot of Labour supporters who absolutely deplore strikes, we voted for Margaret Thatcher after Heath left office as we did not like the grip the Union Barons had on this Country and we were very angry that Scargill tried to bring down a democratically elected government.
We had such faith in her and she betrayed us.
Harold McMillan gave us our first chance to get on the Housing ladder and Margaret Thatcher and her devicive policies nearly cost us the roof over our heads. She is the sole reason that Scotland now has a devolved Parliament, the reason that Wales/Scotland/Midland and the North of England are practically Tory free zones. She is the reason at the last GE I got up out of a sick bed not to vote for the Labour Candidate whom I do not like but to vote against the Tory.
She was the reason for businesses going belly up, house re-possesions by the score and almost 4 million people unemployed, whole mining communities destroyed, families torn apart then the poll tax was the final straw and Scotland bore the brunt of that first.
The Tories have been reaping what she has sown, she single handedly destroyed a once honourable party and it is a shame as there are some very decent Tories out there.
She turned into a meglomaniac.
Now you all know the reason I vote Labour.

The greatest living Briton? I've no idea. The greatest living politician? Undoubtedly.

The policies her government pursued brought 35 years of relative economic decline to an end, something which was thought to impossible in 1979. The whole period 1979-97 saw the UK grow more rapidly than the majority of OECD states. She deserves credit for her trade union reforms, council house sales, and her clear-sighted attitude to foreign affairs. She championed British possession of nuclear weapons, fought and won the Falklands War, and stood out against opposition to South African sanctions, all of which contributed to the West's victory in the Cold War.

Her errors are well listed by Tim Roll-Pickering.

We should set all that to violin music, Joseph.

To add tro what TR_P said, she also supported Section 28 and introduced 'Care in the Community'. But, as I said, who are the alternatives?

Tim and Joseph, with all due respect, you have misinterpreted the purpose of this post. The question was 'Is Mrs T the greatest living Briton?' not 'Please start an anti-Thatcher rant'. Neither of you gave an alternative candidate (as I rather suspect you would struggle to name one)

I thought TRP's assessment was quite well-balanced, Michael Hewlett. Quite clearly, she made mistakes, but the good she achieved very clearly outweighed the bad.

Michael Hewlett:
Aneurin Bevan beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just look what this fellow was born into and how he pulled himself up to reach the high office he did. I suggest you read his biography.
Unless you are very wealthy and can afford private medical care which we cannot, then you like myself and a good many others would have every reason to be thankful for people such as him.
If you are not old enough to know the Tories fought tooth and nail against a NHS in those days and prior to it.
If you could not pay for medical care one just suffered and was left to die.

As for you Sean Fear, I hope you never go through the experience of loosing your job and being told you are too old to be retrained after a lifetime of hard work. However if you are unfortunate enough to experience such trauma where it comes to the point of going hungry, paying bills or selling the roof above your head for a much reduced price. Then you would not have to suffer the indignity of the sarcasm you have levelled at my post, which in MHO is the lowest form of wit and the highest form of ignorance known to man.
Not only is it demeaning to the person it is intended for and those who read it, it demeans those who stoop to such levels.

No, no, my suggestion was intended seriously. It could be a Labour PPB.

Richard W wrote

"There is no link between the money supply and inflation except in certain cases. Inflation is by and large linked to costs. Even Milton Freidman discounted monetarism before he died."

Total rubbish!

Only problem Joseph is that he died in 1960.

RichardW is obviously some pre clause IV Labourite blogging here to riase all of our blood pressures. He has as much relevancy as Socialism, ignore him.

Joseph: Nye Bevan has been dead for 40+ years. Have another go.

(What about The Queen? As far as I know, she is still alive, and isn't Lady Thatcher.)

With the benefit of 17 years hindsight, we can now see that Sir Ian Gilmour was wrong about Thatcher's economic reforms. The economy did improve after all, relative to similar nations'.

No, no, my suggestion was intended seriously. It could be a Labour PPB.

I am not into that, what you see is what you get, nothing more nothing less.

I have treated people's opinion with respect whilst being on here, whether I have agreed with them or not. I am also perfectly capable of holding my own when I feel my opinion or my person is being disrespected.

Joseph, Nye Bevan is dead, so ineligible as a candidate for 'Greatest Living Briton'.

I haven't suggested an alternative candidate, because I can't really think of an appropriate person for the title 'Greatest Living Briton' off the top of my head, with the possible exception of the Queen, and I daresay that because this contest is a collaboration between the Sun and ITV, the eventual list will be dominated by celebrities (David Beckham, Robbie Williams, Paul McCartney, Judi Dench, er, Michael Fish - well, maybe not...) who are all equally unsuitable for the title.

Does this mean Thatcher should be awarded the title by default, just because we have not suggested another alternative? No. That would be like claiming Gordon Brown is the best candidate to be Labour leader, which is patently untrue.

I thought Sean was actually quite kind to Joseph. I've copied bits of Joseph's note here in italics:

She is the sole reason that Scotland now has a devolved Parliament
erm, no, I think you'll find that's down to the no doubt brain-dead Labour fool whom you got out of your sick bed to vote for, who happily wandered into the 'aye' lobby in order to support the constitutional vandalism of the Scottish Parliament, invented by Labour in an attempt to buy-off the nationalist vote in Scotland (with hilarious consequences!)

She is the reason at the last GE I got up out of a sick bed not to vote for the Labour Candidate whom I do not like but to vote against the Tory.
erm, that's your personal tragedy mate, innit? And no doubt an interesting narrative to yourself, but, all the same, irrelevant to the greatness of the Thatch, who (perhaps you were feverish on the day?) wasn't a candidate at the last GE. Sorry! While you thought you were striking a blow for Arthur Scargill, all you actually achieved was to vote for the brain-dead Labour MP etc etc.

I'm not going to begin to list the things that make me sick about this government, but I'd crawl on my hands and knees over broken glass to put my X against them.

Anyway the Thatch. Or La Thatch surely? Justin (as ever! ha ha) is right, some ghastly things happened on her watch, but the balance is so strongly in her adminstration's favour, yes she's probably the greatest living Briton, if by greatest we mean 'greatest PM'.


Bevan is dead. It's greatest living Briton!!

Apologies all round I read it incorrectly, for some reason I had it into my head that it was the greatest politician of the last century. I think I read that somewhere.
Hope this is not an early sign that old age is catching me up fast.

Sorry Graeme:
It is not debate you are looking for it is confrontation. So if you do not mind I prefer to rise above it, not really interested in silly little games.

Oh go on Joseph, get down and dirty. After all, you've treated us to the standard leftwing narrative about the sheer bloody ghastliness of the Thatcher era; and emlivened your story with some useful (to you) images. Great images!

Rise or don't rise, it is your pleasure. But don't drivel on in 2007 about how supposedly awful was Margaret Thatcher's government or how it was responsible for this ill or that misfortune. Such narratives are fiction, no matter how often they are repeated. Take some responsibility for the mess you voted into office.

You have just proved my point. I rest my case.

The Japanese tried that and got nowhere. Had Thatcher taken the Keynesian path I suspect inflation would not have been conquered.
Inflation is never conquered, it's an endless war. 1 very serious mistake she did make was to assume that zero inflation was possible. Zero inflation as a statistic might be possible in a single month, but what does that mean? Zero inflation would only be possible if humanity was wiped out, no people therefore no inflation but economies and societies are dynamic and so inevitably things are constantly changing and there are fluctuation and zero percent inflation is not some kind of physical bottom. Trying to get inflation down to and then keep it around 0% would have been a better ambition.

If there is very slight inflation then periodically phasing out the lowest coinage and adding something alternative above the Pound Sterling that perhaps could eventually become the new currency. I favour moving back to the Shilling as 5 pence and having a Century Shilling equivalent to £5 as the new UK currency and phasing out the pound and the penny.

If there is slight deflation then it might become neccessary to introduce new coinage at the lower end of the scale at some point in time.

If it went up and down but remained very similar over a long time and it was already considered that the denominations of coinage and notes were reasonable then there would be no need to make any changes to correct for value changes.

Bevan is dead. It's greatest living Briton!!
Maybe John McDonnell has a cyborg army of Nye Bevans ready to take over the world?

Even the all time 'Greatest Briton' Winston Churchill had many flaws.
Think among all time greatest Britons there might be Thomas Cranmer, John Knox (who ended Rome's grip on Scotland), Oliver Cromwell, John Bunyan, Reverend Thomas Chalmers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, John Logie Baird (after all he came up with a lot of technology now taken for granted), Alexander Graham Bell and Alexander Gordon.

The problem is that there are all kinds of greatest Britons, Winston Churchill of course was backed by a number of very able people some of whom were very good in wartime, but not much good at much else - the times make the man.

"Some areas of British life she did nothing to repair. In particular, the spread of cultural Marxism in our schools, the BBC, the Police, the criminal justice system. "Political Correctness" was born in the 1980s. She may have seen it, but she had no time or energy left to fight it."

Agree with this, although I reckon she is the greatest living Briton, she paid far too little attention to education. Re the BBC, I think this can be excused - for the whole of the Conservative era, the Conservatives and the public generally assumed that the BBC's hostility was just them upholding their duty to be independent of and questioning of the government. It was only with the BBC's fawning attitude to New Labour that realisation began to set in, a realisation that is not yet fully complete. Re the police and judiciary, I don't think cultural Marxism had really gained control of either body until after 1997, but I do think the Conservatives were remiss in doing nothing to return the police to the effective policing strategies prior to the 1960s. The big failure though was definitely in education, laying the foundation for future cultural Marxist dominance of our society and possibly now of the Conservative party itself.

JOSEPH. I commiserate with you for the loss that you say you incurred under Margaret Thatcher’s Administration, but that loss was really mainly due to the inept ideology and weakness of the governments before her. She had no choice but to shift Britain away from becoming a Socialist basket case - the Sick Man of Europe - to a leaner, fitter economic machine if we were going to survive economically. Well I remember the socialist Healey, prior to Maggie, going cap in to borrow money from the IMF to bail us out so we could pay our bills: the likes of Scargill and Red Robbo were ruling the roost. You agree that situation had to be corrected, but you are unable to see that as a result individuals as well as companies would suffer. Our competitive position with the rest of the world had been greatly eroded. We had been throwing money at failing government-backed businesses like Gordon Brown does at the public sector. We emerged under Maggie ready to hold our own and to prosper, which the great majority did.

The miners are often quoted to illustrate Maggie has being an uncaring, ruthless tyrant, but they were badly led It was Scargill trying to force and impose his will on the government that led to the confrontation. I was at Wapping the night when Scargill appeared there and inflamed a newspaper/printers dispute that was none of his business. It is ironic, but now even the BBC doesn't seem to like fossil fuels (you may have noticed - I can't remember what the reason is)).

Graham Archer has correctly laid the blame for the devolution and possible isolation of Scotland where it belongs - with the vote buying Labour Party and there still seem to be some in Scotland still fighting the battle of Culloden and singing the old songs.

Capitalism by its very nature is a rigorous and sometimes unforgiving discipline, but it has greatly added to the freedom and well being of the majority.
Socialism is the opposite: it is a very lax discipline that usually results in the loss of freedom and wealth, but greatly adds to the well being of the small minority that imposes it at the expense of the majority.

Can't agree with you Joseph - Maggie is surely the greatest despite any failings.

PS With regard to Grammar Schools. Maggie was a politician of her time, which regarded the Comprehensive systems as being a fairer and more effective way forward for education.
We can see with the benefit of hindsight that the system was and is greatly flawed. The nation needs the ethos and rigour of grammar schools for everyones benefit.

Richard W is a complete twerp. Botham was a sporting hero, saved from ignominy by a great English captain. In no other walk of life is he noteworthy.

Thatcher was a great English captain who never needed to be saved by anyone. Of course she had faults, but what an utterly marvellous Briton she was.

I mean... what a marvellous Briton she IS.

Mrs T should join Mr T as an A-List couple.

You see dontmakemelaugh:

I can agree with a lot of what you have to say (not all of it though) but can I point out the difference between yourself and Graeme. Yours is an opinion people can respect and debate in an adult fashion with. On the other hand all Graeme wants is to confront and insult. People vote the way they do for what life throws at them.
Now if people are hell bent on arguing and being bombastic just to get their point of view over. How many minds do you think that is going to change?
I took one look at Graeme's post and I could see immediately where the term "The nasty party" comes from.
It is not the majority of people who post to this blog that such as Graeme should be trying to win over it is the people like me who do not vote Tory but want to understand why others do and I am sorry the way he goes about it is just not going to convince anybody.

I see that sort of behaviour day in and day out around our town and do not like what I see. " It is their opinion so it must be right and it does not matter what anybody else thinks" we are the majority so we will shout you down.
This is the same behaviour as the school bully.
I must admit though that on this blog he has been the exception rather than the rule and as I do not see a notice on this blog stating "Labour supporters keep out you are not welcome" then I will continue to post.
Supporting Labour is not a STD it is a conviction and people of all walks of life are entitled to their opinion and point of view without facing confrontation, insults, ridicule and nastiness.
After all the value of Graeme's vote and mine are both equal.
Is it too much to ask for to be treated with the same respect as I show others?
Or do the posters on here only want to talk to each other and are not interested in other points of view.?

Sean ,you should be ashamed of your comment posted at 15.42 yesterday .

You are a constituency chairman for goodness sake. Your remark "We should set all that to violin music " when Joeseph was trying to explain why your party's policies hurt so many working class families was truly pathetic.

This is exactly the kind of "I'm alright jack" attitude that got your party soundly kicked out in 1997. I wouldn't expect a London solicitor to understand much about the life of a northern miner or factory worker, but you aren't prepared to even acknowledge the fact such people suffered.

I only wish more swing voters read this.

The Lady is certainly well up there but quick review there are others who are not politicians or footballers: off the top of my head Berners-Lee for his work on the WWW? Sir John Sulston for his work on unravelling the genome?

Strange how there is still so much hatred for Mrs T - most of what Joseph blames her for happened in the 7 years Major was PM. Also her legend, like all legends, has moved away from the facts. Her comments and those of others show that in 1981/2 she wasn't heartless about unemployment and what it was doing, that she didn't send men to their deaths in the Falklands with no regret ot guilt. She made some wrong decisions but overall her three governments have delivered a better Britain than we would have without her and maybe a better world. On balance yes the greatest living Briton.

Strange how there is still so much hatred for Mrs T

and I'm not sure that hatred will ever go away Ted, because so many people lost out personally.

This wasn't a case of some people being a bit worse of and some people a bit better off- that will happen with every policy of every goverment. I'm talking about people losing *everything*

If you want to know why people can't forgive her , look at


(Set to violin music I'm afraid Sean! :D) In particular the slide where she proudly proclaims "well I'm gloating"

...she also supported Section 28...
Justin Hinchcliffe

You appear to think that this was a bad thing?

Perhaps the debate on here proves why Margaret Thatcher is the greatest living Briton. Whether we think the changes she made in her 11 years as Prime Minister transformed Britain for the better or whether we think those changes damaged the country, what nobody argues is the Thatcher years were pretty ineffectual and that by 1990 Britain was pretty much as it had been in 1979.

There is a general consensus that Margaret Thatcher was the most radical Prime Minister of the post war era, whose legacy continues to be debated the best part of 20 years after she left office.

Thatcher is still seen around the Midlands, North and Scotland as the most destructive and devisive PM ever.
I am far too much of a gentleman to put into print some of the comments that are still being said of her today around the mining villages which although it did happen at the time of John Major, Thatcher sown the seeds of their destruction, John Major was left with the chaff and fall out.
These opinions are passed down Father-to-son that is why they will never be erased from people's mind for decades to come.
Major was not such a bad guy I think he honestly tried his best to repair the damage she had created but it was on far too large a scale.
One had only got remember the Poll Tax riots and I think those just scratched the surface of the discontent with the Conservatives which you still are suffering from today.
Until the Tory high command realise just how afraid people are of a repeat of her time in office and start making positive efforts to make ammends I think the Tories will be in the Political wilderness for some time to come.
This appears to be something that those Tory's in particular who did very well under Thatcher, mainly the better off just cannot seem to come to terms with until they do I do not give the Tory Party a snowballs chance in hell of winning an outright majority.
However having said all that one thing I will always be grateful to her for, she put the Union Barons who had become too big for their boots in their place.
Nobody has the right to bring down a democratically elected government put there by the will of the people.
Votes do that not Unions.

comstock -
the 84 miners strike was unavoidable historically and for many of those of us who lived through the previous two decades the culmination of the battle between organised labour and the democratic institutions.

The 1950's had been a decade of growth as the post war housing crisis and the economic legacy of the War and the post-war Labour Government were overcome. The British motor industry had a huge share of the worlds export market (pitiful remnants now in Iran and India remain of that status), British motorcycles dominated, the British aviation industry was in competition with the US. The UK had its own space programme. UK manufacturing, heavy and light industry made up a huge part of this country's economy.

There were many reasons why those industries died in the next three decades but the actions of the Wilson & Callaghan governments (with a particulary failed Heath interregnum) together with the activities of miltant and organised Labour played a major role. The 60's & 70's were decades of industrial unrest; docks, motor industry, transport, power generation, miners even for one period bakers all were on strike. It became something of a joke and the UK was "the sick man of Europe".

We had years of stop-start prices and incomes controls, government slashed capital investments in state industries (I remember in my job delayed investment in new telephone exchanges despite long waiting lists) and in infrastructure. The NHS, rail, roads, schools in fact anything that was state controlled (and in the era of nationalised industries that was a lot) were starved with long term effects. Exchange controls limited both companies and private individuals ability to move capital and together with concerns over the British economy limited inward investment.

Margaret Thatcher's administration completely changed that picture. Her policies on industrial relations banning closed shops, secondary picketing, requiring ballots before industrial action brought an effective and democratic balance. In 1984 we had a major industrial strike, not balloted for so without a mandate from its members, which sent out secondary pickets and in which there was intimidation and violence. Many of the activities were directly intended to repeat the victories of organised labour over previous legislation which had so undermined Wilson and Heaths administrations.

It was to an extent a civil war played through the miners and the police. The defeat of the NUC was, we can see now, the turning point from decline towards growth. Yes we had another recession, which was worsened and lengthened by the decision to first shadow the Deutschemark then join the ERM (for which the blame is more with Thatcher's cabinet rather than herself, and which Labour actively supported) but the UK today is a radically different and better country because of Thatcher.

There were victims of the 80's revolution but in the long term fewer than there would have been had the UK economy continued its trajectory before her.

If it wasn't for Thatcher we'd all be speaking Argentinian now.


The point I was trying to make was that yes Thatcher was a divisive figure, but then what she was trying to do is radically change Britain, in post war Britain only Clement Atlee's labour government could make a claim to have introduced such radical change. Margaret Thatcher was a conviction politician who rather than shy away from making really difficult decisions as previous government's (both labour and conservative) had done confronted them head on.

Of course the closure of the mines, the ship building yards etc was a terrible thing for those who lost their jobs when those industries failed, but if we are honest about it, just how much longer could the state have gone on bailing out those failing industries? I'm not unsympathetic to the awful human consequences both for individuals and whole communities in some cases caused by the collapse of those industries, but the government faced with a very difficult decision simply had to put the nation's economic interests first, and that rather than short term populism is exactly what they did.

Of course she isn't the Greatest Living Briton. She's the Greatest Briton that EVER lived.

"Sean ,you should be ashamed of your comment posted at 15.42 yesterday . "

I'm afraid that Dave Spartism tends to bring out the worst in me.

Where do you think we would be now, economically, if we'd kept top rates of taxation at 83-98%, kept the closed shop and secondary picketing, kept exchange controls and prices and incomes policies, and attempted to keep bankrupt nationalised industries in being? Richer or poorer?

I could agree with the closure of some of the mines, those that were practically worked out, but this Country was producing the cheapest deep mine coal around the globe. Every other country was being subsidised, on top of that it was the safest. We are now at the mercy of unstable governments for our fuel. I am sure that with quite a bit of money spent on it we could have made coal a lot cleaner. There was enough spent on dole money, it could have been put to better use.
Now if she was so hell bent on getting these pits closed why did she just not stagger the closures over a decade rather than put a good many thousands upon thousands of men on the dole, some as young as 50 years old never to work again. What added insult to injury she told us "Go through the picket lines lads your jobs are safe" we did, we believed her, but she still closed the mines, that was totally unforgivable.
In my area alone we had 84.000 miners made redundant at a stroke. When those miners were made redundant so were a lot from supporting industries at the same time the textiles industry was going belly up. This not only hit the large businesses it ruined a lot of small businesses which were dependent on these mines and factories. Which in turn devastated the villages, some with no men at all in work.
The money paid out on dole money in this country must have been horrendous.
We know she had to put the Nations well being first, but can you explain to me why one man had to pay for himself, plus his wife two lots of poll tax money, out of one lot of dole money due to the fact that there was meagre savings in the household. When Dukes are Duchesses and all the landed gentry were paying exactly the same.
Are you aware that if a married man who was claiming the redundant mine workers pension in lieu of dole money (A move to keep the unemployment figures down, it was a con)had a wife who wanted to work the moment her earnings went over £14 per week that was deducted from his pension. So a married lady could earn a wage for a 40 hour week and end up being £14.00 per week better off as most of her earnings were deducted from her husbands pension.

This is not ..."Such narratives are fiction, no matter how often they are repeated"... as one blogger put it, this is absolute fact. And,..."that's your personal tragedy mate, innit?"....is the very reason that your present leader is making no inroads into Scotland, Wales the Midlands and the North.
Most Tories have never learned a thing from 10 years on the opposition benches I doubt some ever will.
Some will never understand how the other half lived or even wants to.
They "were all right Jack" it did not matter for the rest

To borrow a phrase from your party leader, Sean, I think we would have lower GNP but higher GWB.

Mrs Thatcher herself admitted her policies had widened the gap between rich and poor. If you ever come across any footage of her leaving speech to the HOC, watch it, especially her hand gestures showing the gap between rich and poor widening as the country got wealthier.

The top rate of taxation was proberbly too high in 1979, but it is undoubtly too low now, and it would be hard to raise it again.

Comstock, are you really serious? You belive that 40% is too low a rate of taxation for people who have worked hard to achieve what they have?

What a sad statement. If Mrs. T taught us anything, she taught that low taxation encourages industry. She collected more revenue at 40% than Healey had at 83% or 98%.

Why should those who have worked hard to achieve more pay a higher percentage of their income?

I feel that 40% is way too high. A blanket rate of 25% for all should be introduced, with no top salary cap on the National Insurance additional tax.

Comstock is probably unhappy that after more than 10 years of his party being in government the gap between the rich (particularly the super rich)and poor has widened to a greater degree than in Mrs Thatchers day.

Yes, Malcolm, I am. Whilst I accept inequality is a fact of life under capitalism (and all alternatives to that have failed) I don't think the levels of inequality we currently have in society are a good thing.

Jon White, I accept many of the people paying the 40% have worked hard for it, but so have many people much lower down the income scale. Whilst the self made businessmen of this world have put in a lot of effort, they have also made their money thanks to the hard work of both their employees and indirectly their customers (to earn the money to spend in their business)

I don't buy the full blooded left wing argument that the rich 'exploit' the poor, but I do believe the two groups are interdependent, and income based taxation is one way for one group to return the favour to the other.

It is also a less regressive and more open and honest way to tax people than indirect taxation.

41% with NI surcharge is top rate - NI being now income tax with a different name as thresholds are aligned. So currently Class 1 NI is 11% above £100 per week and income tax at 20% will be about the same. So a flat tax would have to be above 31% - hitting middle earners and benefiting the better off. Best to raise thresholds and simplify tax credits.
I agree 41% is high enough.

Jon White:
Are you seriuosly asking us to believe that those who pay 40% tax work harder than those that pay 25% tax? One shift down a coal mine or on a building site would probably have killed some people.
Mrs Thatchers policies led to 4 million + unemployment (Bear in mind the 3 million + figure was for those claiming unemployment benefits (nobody knows just how many extra there was unemployed not claiming benefits as most married ladies did not qualify due to paying a reduced NI stamp) and as for low taxation encouraging industry, more factories and businesses were closed under her watch and due to her policies spilled over into John Major's watch. Also there is more people in work now than there ever has been, plus the fact we are seeing more new schools and hospital building, that is where the tax is going. One needs to make up their mind 25% tax across the board and all the services cut again, or the extra cash for these services and continued improvements.
There is no pot of gold at the bottom of the garden, these things have to be paid for and please do not give me the old chestnut about reducing waste in these services I have heard that one since the days of Harold Mcmillan. It just never happens, we only get what we pay for.

There are currently 5.6 million people reliant totally on state benefits, a large number of whom are employable. The overall figure is higher than it was at the height of the early 80's recession (the one that happened when Mrs Thatcher was PM) and little different from the worst of Major's recession. Youth unemployment is higher than when John Major was defeated. Its hidden now as disability benefit etc but more people at wotk than there have ever been is because with a growing population and immigration thats what happens as long as the rate of inactivity grows at same or lower rate as active workforce.

UK has moved from a manufacturing to a service based economy - as long as there are people in China and India able to manufacture goods cheaper than us we will not see a return to a big manufacturing base. Germany specialised in high quality engineering and retains as a result a value add industrial base but the UK was never in the same league- our cotton mills could be replicated in India, our light engineering in China, our motor industry almost anywhere else. Coal is abundant and cheaper elsewhere. Heavy industries grew up because 19th & early 20th century transport costs combined with low wages meant iron & steel and industries like shipbuilding were cheaper close to source. When this balance shifted and the cost of production plus transportation was lower than we could achieve our heavy industry and mining base died out.

The UK was never self sufficient, we rely on world trade to make a living so tariff barriers to protect our home manufacturing would have been self defeating. Our economy was in decine while Labour and Conservative governments attempted artificial resuscitation through state aid - Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in Heath's time cost around £20,000 per employee to keep going when I was earning £1400 as a junior manager and thought that a reasonable wage.

Mrs Thatcher didn't kill British Manufacturing, the forces of world development, the decades of under-investment since WW2 killed it. Her re-ordering of the economy may have made in happen quicker but it was on life support already. She didn't destroy mining, Polish coal and natural gas did that by undercutting the economic viability of the coalfields.

What she did was actually make it less painful in the long run by hastening the change required. Gordon Brown wouldn't have had the billions to splurge if Thatcher hadn't set the circumstances for the UK economy to adapt. It's been growing now for 14 years or so and the achievement of Brown & the BoE is that they haven't done much more than care & maintenance on the vigorous economy that Ken Clarke built on the new foundations.

Joseph, I didn't say that people who pay 40% work harder than those who pay at 25%. With the exception of those who have inherited their wealth (which there will always be some), those who pay at 40% have been more successful.

A taxation system based on differential incomes merely creates a whole industry devoted to tax avoidance by those who have/earn more. It also creates wonderful employment prospects for those whose job it is to collect taxes.

If we were to adopt a blanket rate, where everyone pays at the one rate (and I accept that my knowledge of economics is not strong enough to say what that rate would be, so i can't argue with the figures that Ted quotes above), then we could massivley reduce the number of civil servants employed to collect tax, and cut of the incomes of the leeches whose job it is to assist the rich in tax avoidance.

Less painful for who Ted?
Certainly not the kids that went hungry because their Father was out of work and living on the dole and felt humiliated by it, who would have been prepared to walk, not even get on his bike if there had have been a job to go to, definately not those whose homes had been repossessed and who were made homeless or those that had put every penny piece they had into a business and to watch it go bankrupt, not because there was something wrong with either the goods or services, simply because no one could afford to trade with them. The cash was just not there.
Definately not those who were on trolleys on hospital corridors waiting for a bed or the patients denied beds owing to the winter crisis we had year in year out in the hospitals beacause our services were so run down that money that should have been spent on them and and could have been collected in taxes by those who wanted to work was having to be paid out in dole-money to people who did not want to be on the dole in the first place.
Yes we have in our midst Social Security spongers and malingerers that should be rooted out, but who is going to argue with a Doctor when he says the person is not fit to work?
I agree with the reasons you give for the run down of industry, It was inevitable that what has happened would happen. She was just too brutal with it, this should have happened over a much longer period and the same could have and should have been achieved without the carnage she left behind and the disruption and devastation in people's lives and the effects that in some places are still being felt today.

Sorry Jon, it was the way you phrased it that left it open to misinterprtation.

I would agree with you though that the the tax situation as it stands does create a lot of room for manoeuvre regarding tax avoidance and the people employed to administer it could be reduced drastically if someone could come up with a better system for the collection of taxes. Somehow I cannot envisage it being just one flat rate.I cannot think of another better alternative though


"To borrow a phrase from your party leader, Sean, I think we would have lower GNP but higher GWB."

You can only start to think about general well being when your general finances are in order. Some people seriously thought we'd be the first first world country to regress. You really think we'd the people would be happier if the streets were unclean, the dead unburied and even more than four million unemployed?

"Mrs Thatcher herself admitted her policies had widened the gap between rich and poor. If you ever come across any footage of her leaving speech to the HOC, watch it, especially her hand gestures showing the gap between rich and poor widening as the country got wealthier."

Yes, but if you'd listen to what she says while making the hand gestures, you'll understand that all levels of income have risen as a result. Yes, some got richer than others, but so what? What matters is that every income level increased - wealth really does trickle down, just look at Ireland today.


"One needs to make up their mind 25% tax across the board and all the services cut again, or the extra cash for these services and continued improvements.
There is no pot of gold at the bottom of the garden, these things have to be paid for..."

I admire very much how you're sticking your ground, and some points you make are true. The damage to the communities and lives of the miners truly was awful, but state subsidisation of such industry really could not go on. I'm not sure if the full-scale shutting down of the mines was necessary - perhaps selling the mines and technology to the miners to form co-operatives would have been better? But I'm no expert on the situation and it's been a while since I've looked into it, so that may not have been possible. What was for sure was that the state can't be relied upon to pay for industries in that manner. As you rightly point out, there is no pot of gold. One thing the left have failed, and in many cases still fail to grasp is that the state has no money of its own, all it has is the money it taxes away from people, and that still has to be generated.

Now you paint a false dichotomy there when you say 'cut taxes' or 'invest in services'. As you yourself have already identified, the money the state spends is not infinite, and it has to be created somewhere. In fact, by lowering tax rates (especially corporation tax and small business rates) to a competitive level in the manner Ireland has, we can generate far more money than we otherwise would, and that can be spent on public services.

It's called the Laffer curve, and every leftie (I assume that's what you are, though by no means an evil one ;) :P) should read about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

I will visit the library and have a look at that book.
Ash, I could neither be described left or right in my political persuasion. I believe in extremely right wing measures regarding Law and Order, Policing, the Justice system,immigration and education(Grammar Schools etc). I believe most strongly in the work ethic and savings. I take a dim view of this live now pay later society that we are now living in.
Also the behaviour of some of the youth of today. I find it appalling, especially some of those spawned during the Thatcher era. Selfish uncaring louts, who because life has been good to them deny that it could be other than favourable to everybody else, and do not give a damn about their fellow human beings, some of them, thankfully not all.
I seen a blatent example of that on this thread (thankfully only one)
But my strongest belief is I think the genuinly week in society should be looked after and cared for better and medical and health care should be
free at the point of need, this includes dental as well as optical care. The elderly, disabled and infirm should be better catered for.
Probably no different from the aspirations of many Tories as well as Labour supporting people.
I think that you will find that there is more that unites people no matter whom they vote for than divides them.
I am not one of these lefties who live in Utopiah, my feet are firmly on the ground and I am more than aware that it is Tax-payers money and not the governments that is being spent.
My argument with Mrs Thatcher was she spent more of that not only on the wrong people, but she wasted it on dole money when what you suggest could have been done at a slower pace, I agree it was needed, we could have managed though without the rapid and wholesale destruction of the communities and the way of life for a lot of people.
Then I think you would have found that come the Millenium, we would not have had such a divided society and people left so bitter towards one person in particular and a political party than we do now.
The bottom line Ash is people are afraid to trust the Tories again and David Cameron does not help your cause as he is being seen as "Say anything do anything just get elected at any price" then we will form out policies later. He has dropped far too many Tory priciples and policies far too quickly and the electorate neither believe it or trust him. Especially since he was the Author of the last Tory manifesto.
There is still a lot of healing required in this country to narrow the gap between our citizens and to try and allow each other to understand the other persons point of view. Patience, listening and persuasion is all that is required.This does not cost money

Interesting post, Ash. Yes, some got richer than others, but so what? What matters is that every income level increased

But is that all that matters, though? I say not. Even in 1979 there was very little *absolute* poverty in the country- i.e. starvation, or lack of access to clean drinking water. To me the income distibution really does matter. It will never be equal, but it has been getting worse since the 80s.

And as for the Laffer curve, I have already accepted 98% tax was too high. In 1979 we were clearly too high up the curve. I now believe we are too low on it. Lawson cut the rates so rapidly I think we passed the mid point without realising it.........

The problem is the minute you start talking about relative poverty, it has no end - hence the problems the government had recently where something like 200,000 kids dropped below back into poverty, because the government set itself the target of improving relative, not absolute poverty. What is relative poverty? In a nation where everyone owns a mansion with two swimming pools, is a man who owns a house with only one pool impoverished?

People need to be given two things: opportunity, and a safety net. Education and a market economy are key components of the former; healthcare and workfare for those that can work, and welfare for those that need it, are the latter. The state can't be expected to pay for a poorer person to get an iPod, and nor should it. If someone wants an iPod or the latest trainers or the new Harry Potter book they can go out and earn the money for it. I've no problem with progressive taxation, nor with the principle of a safety net - but the welfare state, where it exists, must supply for need, not want.

On the point about being too low on the Laffer curve, with globalisation and outsourcing all over the place, what matters is that we must be competitive. Corporation tax in particular is effectively the price a company pays for the privilege of working in your country. If it can go somewhere cheaper for labour (see China) or headquarters (see Ireland) or whatever else, and will do.

This is what Ireland has done. It's corporation tax is dramatically low, over half what ours is. No wonder it's economy grows by something ridiculous like 10% every year, and that means more revenue for government, more money to help those that need it and to improve public services, and more employment.

Whilst I do have sympathy with Miners who lost their jobs, and the susequent misery that they suffered, the sob story ignores one relevant fact.

As a group, they had been skinning the rest of us for decades, as had their counter parts in other nationalised - unionised industries. Had previous governments not taken the path of least resistance, the problem could have been solved with less pain. By 1979, that option was no longer with us.

Serf May 21, 2007 at 13:24:
"the *sob* story ignores one relevant fact"

Certainly could have been phrased better however this was a nice debate, brought to a close with some clumsy remarks, how sad.

Ten years in opposition still has not taught some people a thing.
Pity you did not read all the debates, your last paragraph was well and truly addressed and acknowledged by all those participating from both the Labour and Tory supporters, with the utmost decorum and respect for others opinions shown by both sides of the debate.
I hope it has given you some degree of satisfaction to spoil it.
However for me there will probably be other times to look froward to on some different subjects with the same well mannered people.
I will look forward to that.

The 5 finalists (as shortlisted by Sun readers):

Sir Paul McCartney MBE
Her Majesty The Queen
Dame Julie Andrews DBE
Robbie Williams
Baroness Margaret Thatcher

It's on ITV1 right now if people are interested.

Come on guys, get your phones out! Text 'Maggie' to 80889 or call 09011 322 305.

*feels like a little TV presenter*

Vote Maggie!

Gordon Brown has just been on to present an award.

If Thatcher gets the Greatest Living Briton award, I wonder if he'd be glad to collect it on her behalf?

Oooh...Who won?

The Queen. (Or Mrs Windsor, if you prefer, Comstock!)

omg how can an evil person like her be on the list, she is one of the causes for the rescission now, no money from pits steel car industry,the housing market is like it is because of her. and she expects a state funereal, for what stealing the milk out of babys mouths, creating so many homeless and making the rich richer,and breaking the back of wales so we couldnt get devolution hmmmm oi thatcher my kids want money for the milk they lost from school, and the benefits the milk would have gave them,

Steven hawking won

No of course she isn't Britain’s greatest woman, but she is now more than ever an iconic leader. I don't think we should over associate the modern Party with her times, many things have changed since her day and age.
For a start we are now living in a political powder keg, the internet has altered the speed at which shit happens. In any case we need current Heroes to head our state, we are not about to relive the 1980’s. So rather than ask, is Thatcher our greatest Britain? we should ask, can David become such a Briton as she? That makes more sense. I do hope the dear lady dies whilst we are in power because only a conservative majority can assure her State burial. Of course we might have to stay in power for a decade or more but practicalities dictate we are on top. At the time of her passing. I have mixed feelings about the Thatcher era, on one hand she reinvented Britain but to her minus she picked fights with her own people. She gave us back some real pride but in fact signed up to the credit driven Raganomics. She in some very real ways was the architect of the credit boom, giving her blessing to Blair when it was clear we had lost our concentration. She is very much the past and we have to realise that, looking back to Margaret is unhealthy if it is over done. Of course we should celebrate Her, but lets not loose site of the need for today’s leadership to be encouraged to be as good for Britain as the Maggot certainly was.

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