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Dispelling the Thatcher myths

Alex Nunns offers an antidote to the media fawning over Thatcher – and argues her biggest victory was getting her opponents to buy into her mythology
April 2013

When a political leader dies it becomes compulsory to lie about their record. While much of Britain openly rejoiced at the death of Margaret Thatcher, the media snapped into reverential mode, giving over hours of airtime and several thousand miles of column inches to representatives of the ruling class to solemnly recite myths about her achievements.

This wouldn’t matter so much if, like Thatcher, these myths were dead, and weren’t still shaping our politics. But they are. So here are some of them, debunked.

No ‘economic miracle’

It’s said that Thatcher ‘didn't just lead our country, she saved our country’. She didn’t. David Cameron’s melodramatic claim was a reference to Thatcher’s supposed reversal of Britain’s economic decline, when her policies are said to have brought about an economic miracle. But the performance of Britain’s economy in the 1980s was not miraculous – in fact it was below par, even if the deep recession of 1980-1 is ignored. Economic growth was higher and lasted longer in the 1950s and 1960s. And when the economy did pick up speed in the late 80s, it was because of a credit bubble that promptly burst and threw Britain back into recession.

It’s said that Thatcher was a tax-cutter. She wasn’t. The overall tax burden (all taxes as a percentage of GDP) rose from 39 percent in 1979 to 43 percent in 1989. It’s true that Thatcher cut taxes massively for the rich – the top rate of tax was 83 percent when Thatcher came to power, and it was 40 percent when she left. But VAT, which hits the poor harder than the rich, was just 8 percent before Thatcher, and was put up to 15 percent as soon as she gained power.

It’s said that Thatcher made the British people richer. She didn’t. In 1979 the poorest fifth of the population accounted for around 10 percent of after-tax income. By 1989 their share had fallen to 7 percent. Over the same period, the amount of income taken by the richest fifth rose from 37 percent to 43 percent. The rich got richer; the poor got poorer.

It’s said that Thatcher restructured the economy and made British capitalism competitive. She didn’t restructure anything. Restructuring would have required a plan, which was anathema to her. Instead, she simply destroyed. Between 1980 and 1983, capacity in British industry fell by 24 percent. Unemployment shot up, eventually topping 3 million. Thatcher effectively shut down British manufacturing, much of it forever. In its place, she turned to the banks and the City, making their wildest dreams come true with the financial ‘Big Bang’. We know how that ended.

What conviction?

It’s said that Thatcher was a conviction politician, a ‘monetarist’ who stuck to her economic beliefs through tough times and was vindicated. She didn’t, and she wasn’t. Monetarism, the theory Thatcher adopted from American economist Milton Friedman, says the government should keep inflation low by restricting the money supply, and shouldn’t care about anything else, especially unemployment. Thatcher used monetarism as an intellectual cloak, but she never actually implemented pure Friedmanite monetarism. She quickly abandoned her looser British version when it crashed the economy in the early 80s. She was, however, radically successful at not caring about unemployment.

It’s said that Thatcher’s greatest free market legacy is privatisation. It isn’t. Thatcher’s privatisations did not create competitive free markets. Instead, the government went for as much money as it could get by selling off public assets in big, monopolistic lumps. The cash came in handy for the chancellor, Nigel Lawson, who used it to claim he had balanced the budget in 1988. But the legacy is one of parasitic cartels, like in the energy sector, where a few big companies are free to bleed customers dry.

It’s said Thatcher won the Cold War. She didn’t. The idea that the Soviet system collapsed because Thatcher and Reagan said mean things about communism deserves no more than one sentence.

It’s said Thatcher stood up for freedom and democracy in the world. She didn’t in South Africa, where she opposed sanctions against apartheid and called Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’. She didn’t in Chile, where she supported the murderer and torturer Augusto Pinochet. She didn’t in Cambodia, where she gave support to the Khmer Rouge, of all people. As for democracy, she espoused an ideology that valued market choices more highly than votes.

Rolling back the state?

It’s said that Thatcher ‘rolled back the state’. But, with the exception of the economy, where the state did retreat, Thatcher’s government intervened in areas of British society like none before it. It imposed draconian laws on one particular type of voluntary organisation – trade unions. It attacked local government, cut its funding and restricted its powers. It intervened directly in schools, setting a national curriculum for the first time.

It’s said that Thatcher restored law and order. She didn’t. Crime increased by a staggering 79 percent under Thatcher. There were riots in Brixton and Toxteth at the start of her reign, and riots and civil disobedience against the poll tax at the end of it.

It’s said that Thatcher created a ‘property-owning democracy’ through the sale of council houses. But this led to a chronic shortage of social housing which has pushed up house prices. Today, home ownership is falling and the private rental market is booming. The taxpayer is still subsidising housing to the tune of billions through housing benefit, but now the money goes to rich private landlords.

It’s said that Thatcher changed the class and gender profile of the Tory party. She didn’t. She made a big deal of being an outsider: a middle-class woman in a party of aristocrats. But she was an individual, an exception to the rule. She made no attempt to change party structures to help others like her. Today, the Tory leadership is dominated by Etonians and there are only four women in the cabinet. Thatcher always forgot to mention that her political career was financed by her millionaire husband. She expressed disdain for feminism and embraced patriarchal, male values.

It’s said that Thatcher was an electoral phenomenon. She wasn’t. She won three elections, each with a lower percentage of the vote than all previous post-war Tory victories. She never gained the support of more than a third of eligible voters. She won her second and third elections because a section of the Labour Party split off to form the SDP and the two squabbled over second place.

One claim that’s true

It’s claimed that Thatcher defeated the left. She did. This is the cliché that holds true. The big set-piece battle with the miners’ union was economically irrational – it cost the country £2.5 billion. But she was fighting more than the miners; she was fighting a class.

She told the truth later in life when she said that her legacy was New Labour. In so many of her other goals, she failed. Thatcherism has no institutional legacy because she put none in place. She left no cut and paste economic model because she didn’t apply the monetarism she espoused. All she left was her example, which had its most powerful effect on her erstwhile opponents.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did more to institutionalise Thatcherism than the woman herself. Before New Labour, in the early 1990s, in the midst of a recession, it was a truism that Thatcherism had been an economic failure. The fact that many of the myths discussed here have been revived is in large part due to New Labour. When even Thatcher’s opponents accept Thatcherism’s success, why should the media challenge the record?

Blair responded to her death by admitting (although understating) what everyone already knew, that ‘some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government’. It is often said that Blair’s only legacy will be Iraq, but he will also feature in the epilogue of every biography of Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher tore at the social fabric of Britain, destroyed swathes of its economy and inflicted vindictive harm on large sections of its population. But she built nothing. Her main success was in the minds of her opponents.

Alex Nunns is Red Pepper's political correspondent. He tweets at @alexnunns


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Will Podmore 9 April 2013, 14.50

Good piece Alex, thank you.
It’s particularly nauseating seeing Labour MPs fawning over this destructive person.

NMac 9 April 2013, 15.52

Thatcher was the most divisive Prime Minister in modern history. In addition she literally rejected society and glorified personal greed and selfishness. There is nothing at all to celebrate.

Mark Wright 9 April 2013, 16.14

Brilliant article.

Noel 9 April 2013, 17.12

It’s refreshing to see a newspaper article throwing out the cold hard truth about Thatcher.

Don’t forget the increase in child poverty, oh, and the resurgence of diseases of malnutrition (ricketts!) in the UK.

Angela Kennedy 9 April 2013, 17.24

Best summary about Thatcher’s legacy so far.

Tim Bedford 9 April 2013, 17.28

Nothing but a contrarian opinion piece. You need to publish your sources to be taken seriously.

Clare 9 April 2013, 18.03

Thank goodness for Red Pepper and Alex Nunns – while I’m happy Thatcher is dead, I am sick of the sycophantic “tributes” which seem to be ubiquitous on all BBC radio stations. Well done for introducing some sanity, balance and presenting the facts.

Please can Red Pepper approach the BBC to run an alternative Thatch “tribute” to present these facts and speak to the people affected – the UK public.

Martin 9 April 2013, 18.08

Tim Bedford: You know the big publishing editorials are supported by Torie’s so how the hell is anything like this ever going to stand a chance of being published. You continue to live your scripted life Tim. Read what you are made to believe.

Jess Whiteley 9 April 2013, 18.25

Nice piece but agree you need to list your sources

Axel 9 April 2013, 18.27

yes, it is a travesty the ‘closed shop has been made illegal

Mechan 9 April 2013, 18.33

Excellent. A little hard to argue with no?
Makes a nice break from our media coverage.

Tim Bedford 9 April 2013, 19.23

Not all the big publishing editorials are supported by Tories. Unless you are saying that the Guardian or the Independent are? Stop there, don’t make a fool out of yourself.

If the author of this piece wants to actually alter the minds of some readers then he needs to list his sources. Otherwise capitalists will just look at it as hogwash, and socialists will sit nodding with every paragraph and no-one will have actually have learnt anything.

For me I had a very different view of Britain under Thatcher as I grew up. My political views were originally moulded by my parents and I only started to formulate my own opinions years later. At the time I was not old enough to vote and the details of the politics of the day are a hazy memory. The author has passed the opportunity to educate and inform people like myself. Instead we have a piece that just panders to the flock.

Terry White 9 April 2013, 19.38

Great piece peeling away layer upon layer of spin & myths of Thatcherism until nothing remains.

Andrew Hall 9 April 2013, 20.21

Thank you for a clear, statistically supported evaluation of the “Thatcher Legacy” – a poisoned chalice that it is still causing long term chronic illness for the country she claimed to love.

dispelling the red pepper myths 9 April 2013, 20.43

Alan Morton 9 April 2013, 20.44

I for one certainly did not rejoice at lady Thatchers passing. I find it utterly distasteful the way some people have reacted to her death.

Alex Nunns 9 April 2013, 20.46

Thanks for all the comments. For people who are asking me to publish my sources that’s a reasonable request and it’s no problem. Here they are:

On economic growth in the 1980s and how it compared unfavourably with the 1950s and 1960s, see Christopher Johnson, The Economy Under Mrs Thatcher (1991), Appendix Table 1, Economic growth trends, 1950-89.

On the increase in the overall tax burden (all taxes and social security contributions) see Ian Gilmour, Dancing With Dogma (1992), p124.

On the statistics showing the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer see Ian Gilmour, Danging With Dogma (1992), p113.

On the fall in the capacity of British industry 1980-3 see the House of Lords Select Committee on Trade, Report, July 1985.

On the turn away from industry and towards the City for economic growth see Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, second edition (1994), p193.

On monetarism see Tim Congdon, Reflections on Monetarism, Institute of Economic Affairs (1992). See also Nigel Lawson, The View From No. 11 (1992), “The Myth of the Golden Age of Monetarism”, p452-3.

On privatisation being used by Lawson to raise funds and balance the budget see Christopher Johnson, The Economy Under Mrs Thatcher (1991), Appendix Table 32, Privatization and the public finances. On the parasitic cartels look around you.

On Thatcher’s non-support of freedom and democracy see, particularly for the linked source material, Mehdi Hasan, Was Thatcher a Champion of Freedom and Democracy? Don’t. Be. Silly., Huffington Post, 9 April 2013, . On Thatcher and the Khmer Rouge see Edward Hunt, Thatcher – and that Cambodia Thing,

On state intervention into society (trade unions, local government, schools) see Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, second edition (1994), p250.

On the 79 percent rise in crime under Thatcher see Ian Gilmour, Dancing With Dogma (1992), p119.

On Thatcher and women see Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, second edition (1994), p197, and on Thatcher’s failure or indifference to change the Tory party see p212.

On the share of the vote won by Thatcher in general elections and the electoral effect of the Labour/SDP split see, Share of Votes and Seats in General Elections since 1945,

On the £2.5 billion cost of the miners’ strike see Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, second edition (1994), p192.

On the lack of an institutional legacy for Thatcherism see Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, second edition (1994), p239.

Mick 9 April 2013, 21.05

What a load of spin and lies! Next your say that everyone
Was greedy and it was Thatcher’s thought.

If the econonomy was so shit how can this be?

L kerr 9 April 2013, 21.44

So what are you waiting for stand for the next local election then get to parliament then become prime minister.Lets see how you run the country you seem to have all the answers. At least Margret Thatcher tried you just whinge from the side lines, big coward grow a pair and have a go.
I grew up on a council estate had three jobs, started my own business employed 20 people from the estate all thanks to Mrs Thatcher. My mum cried with joy when she bought her council house and took a great pride in it.She was from a family of 13 and loved Margret Thatcher.
Also don,t preach about the poor working class I grew up with them some would give you the shirt of their back and others would steel it. Some worked very hard and saved to get on. Some were lazy good for nothing scum.

Trevor 9 April 2013, 22.00

More socialist crap.

Bob 9 April 2013, 23.01

“Several thousand miles of column inches” – that’s a spectacularly ugly bit of writing. Well done.

Tim Bedford 9 April 2013, 23.21

Thank you very much Alex – you’ve given me a lot to read.

jacqueline gilbert 10 April 2013, 07.51

Thank you for the article. Reading through all the comments I CAN SEE THAT SHE CERTAINLY ACHIEVED HER GOAL OF BEING DIVISIVE. It is unfortunate, but also mildly interesting, that the most abusive comments are from people who do not agree with the facts. Perhaps they feel threatened.
I see no reason at all why this woman, as an exceptionally hard figure should be given a state funeral. Neither do I understand the media’s desire to fawn over her accomplishments as if she represents Churchill “in our hour of need”. i guess she must continue to represent the politics of fear.

Phil 10 April 2013, 08.03

It’s said that Thatcher destroyed the mining industry. She didn’t.

The mining villages where I come from were closing down well before Thatcher came in – the number of miners in NE England peaked in the 1920’s.

At time of nationalization in ’47, there were well over a hundred collieries in NE England but from 1950-1970 around a hundred were closed. The fact was they were used up and uneconomic.

The closures in the eighties and nineties were a continuation of what was already happening years before. In 1994 Wearmouth Colliery in Sunderland closed – it was the last colliery in the Durham coalfield.

Biggest disaster of all, the site of this last colliery is now Sunderland football club’s Stadium of Light.

Gracie Gold 10 April 2013, 08.30

L Kerr demonstrates of the failure of the education system thanks to Thatcher

Angela Kennedy 10 April 2013, 09.50

Thanks for the sources Alex. I would just like to say the vast majority of sycophants waxing lyrical about how great Thatcher was have NOT GIVEN SOURCES at all. In fact they never do. One has only to look at the lies being spread in the Tory rags about Welfare alone to see how substantiating evidence is a dirty word for most of these ‘journalists’.

Richard 10 April 2013, 10.02

Nice piece. Your article reflects exactly what I remember of the Thatcher years. Her divisive quality and her spite against those she detested were extraordinary so it is no wonder that people take this opportunity to express their feelings.

Many of us hated her way back in the early 80’s because we realised even then that she was destroying parts of the economy for ideological reasons and that we would never be able to afford to turn back the clock.

People may also remember that she was deeply unpopular just before the Falklands War gave her the opportunity to wave the nationalist flag. The war and the resulting deaths on both sides were a heavy price to pay for another election victory.

Cynical? Perhaps … Wrong? No …

Paul Jones 10 April 2013, 11.38

Interesting piece, glad you listed your sources, good to see so many thoughtful comments.

Peter 10 April 2013, 11.49

“The rich got richer; the poor got poorer.”

Plenty of factual errors here, but I had to stop reading when I read that line. If you’re going to make such a basic mistake (lie?) then you’re just wasting everybody’s time.

You can argue all you like about wealth distribution,but under Thatcher the rich got richer and the poor got richer.

Will 10 April 2013, 12.15

I just took a look at your sources and realised why your article is so blatantly unbalanced.

There isn’t a political leader alive for whom someone couldn’t write an article pointing out policies/reforms that negatively affected the country as a consequence.

No one ever talks much about why Thatcher won THREE consecutive general elections (they talk about the 2nd a fair bit, as if it were somehow unfair), each with far greater turnouts of the electorate.

No one ever talks about why Thatcher was given a mandate in the first place.

It seems to be that the left are simply happy to conntinue with their revisionism, as if it will actually change the past.

What went on in the UK went on across the westernised world. It affected us more because we were such a basket case leading up to the structural reforms.

Shame really. Because all this does is provide the teenagers of today with a warped sense of what went on and why. What next? Teenagers smashing up charity shops when she dies? Oh, that already happened…

Ian Davies 10 April 2013, 13.41

Well done. You’ve realised that most politicians are self-serving, egotistical shysters. I trust you’ll be writing a similar article when Blair pops his clogs about all the destructive/illegal things that he did when in power?

John Mc 10 April 2013, 13.46

Great article except for one thing. You say “but now the money goes to rich private landlords.” However, policies are geared against private landlords with rents beings pressured down by the restrictive LHA. The collapse of the housing market has made paupers out of many landlords. I know of few that are truly rich.

Sydney 10 April 2013, 16.19

It is staggering how the author of this article believes that drawing attention to how deflationary policy slowing economic growth is a criticism of the Thatcher regime. That, is your truism, of course it does; the entire point is to rebalance the economy. You may not agree with how it was done, or the decision to do so at all; but its ridiculous to criticise Thatcher’s policies because of its effects on slowing growth.

Moreover, only someone with zero appreciation of economic history would compare the 1980s with 1950s. No policy could replicate the growth in the 50s. I’m not going to elucidate all the reasons why not; but the comparisons such as this do reduce your article to flimsy rhetoric.

bob 10 April 2013, 16.29

Tom 10 April 2013, 18.18

Completely short sighted

Geroge 10 April 2013, 19.27

The words ‘economic illiteracy’ spring to mind. For example, comparing the 1950’s to the 1980’s is specious: in the 1950’s Britain was emerging from a war that had devastated Britain’s infrastructure – that meant massive government expenditure on rebuilding damaged fixed assets & the nation’s capital stock: roads; railways; and real estate. The buoyancy experienced in the economy is part and parcel of emergent war economies. Just look at Japan or Germany.

Two major points about the economy that the authour has misrepresented:

1) Nationalised industries a p/c of GDP was lower in the 50’s & 60’s than it was in the later 70’s – it peaked at about 10%.

2) Thatcher introduced monetarism to reduce the money supply; inflationary monetary policy had devastated the economy by distorting prices and debasing the currency (we’re talking about double digit inflation). With a deflationary monetary policy – what do you think happens in the short term as the money supply contracts? If you have a brain I’m sure you can work that one out.

The criticism about the tax regime is another nugget of economic illiteracy. It’s a pretty standard axiom that the most efficient & effective way of taxing people is to tax, principally, consumption. What Thatcher did was to rebalance taxation so that individuals had greater spending power in consuming goods and services – the economy only grows if businesses satisfy a particular demand, and if that demand doesn’t exist because of excessive taxation then the economy will be stymied. That’s why she increased VAT. You also fail to point out that a major tax reform was scrapping the 98% taxation on unearned income: how the hell can the economy grow if you’re taxing the ROC at 98%?

I gave up reading this illiterate rubbish after that. I suppose those seeking confirmation of their biases will find this satisfying, however.

jack 11 April 2013, 07.26

Think this gentleman may have an axe o grind….

robin 11 April 2013, 08.17

…i left england in 1986…for two reasons…firstly and most importantly, my son was allocated a place in a single sex school, the reason for which was, as the child of a single parent (and before anyone says anything, i worked to support us both), he was a ‘problem’ child (that was policy at the time)…secondly: i had been forced to watch the destruction of what was once a community in my home town…thatcher was a destroyer, she had the means to do it both financially and politically…in my opinion she was re-elected three times so that those people making money from her horrendous policies could carry on doing so…when she outlived her usefulness – they got rid of her which kind of says it all, really…she doesn’t deserve a funeral on the scale planned any more than you or i do…she’s dead (thirty years too late) but not, sad to say, gone…

Truthseeker 11 April 2013, 11.25

Selective sources & I’m sure I could find other sources to counter most, if not all of yours. It’s a piece of left wing tripe. I notice the author has not mentioned the decay of the country prior to Thatcher winning the 79 general election, nor compared it to the Blair/Brown government since. Just how many mines did the state cl

Matt 11 April 2013, 16.42

– Glenda Jackson launches tirade against Thatcher in tribute debate

Anonymous 11 April 2013, 23.01

Economic theorising sounds so reasonable and it’s quite persuasive. Except the practical consequences can have devastating consequences for some sections of society. Thatcher proved the point.

Little Richardjohn 12 April 2013, 14.42

Her Wapping Ministry of Truth eradicated the 1980’s from popular memory. For most it never existed, other than as a vision of Liverpudlians urinating on their dying friends, and Scargill wallowing in mounds of Kremlin gold. All lies, and known to be lies, as we’re discovering more and more each day. The result of the mythical 80’s is a generation of people who are nastier than they should be. Whose attitude to the weak and defenceless is predatory, and servile to the strong and powerful, and poisonous to both community life and the family. Like James Stewart’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ gone badly wrong.

Little Richardjohn 12 April 2013, 14.49

If even the Telegraph confesses that Thatcher was to blame for 2008, who are we to with-hold absolution?
‘The stock market was deregulated 25 years ago today, reprising the City’s golden age, but the 1980s boom is ultimately responsible for our current bust.’

Rupert Ferguson 13 April 2013, 00.34

One point that this excellent article appears to have missed, and which perhaps holds the key to the entire subversion of the Labour Left under Blair and Brown, are Tony Blair’s links to the disgraced former Tory Cabinet Minister Lord Lampton!

zak 13 April 2013, 03.15

Great leaders build wholesome and inclusive nations, they do not reject society and certainly do not divide nations.

Steve Vincent 13 April 2013, 09.11

It’s great to read such a thorough, well written piece but such a bore that there are those who still believe that Thatcher was anything but a warmongering, fascist dictator, who ruined our wonderful country and left a legacy of greed, poverty, unemployment and constructed inequality.

Marc Goddard 13 April 2013, 15.48

Absolutely fantastic article. I grew up in thatcher’s Britain and we all still feel the effects now.

Will Podmore 16 April 2013, 11.42

‘Truthseeker’ wrote, “Selective sources & I’m sure I could find other sources to counter most, if not all of yours. It’s a piece of left wing tripe. I notice the author has not mentioned the decay of the country prior to Thatcher winning the 79 general election, nor compared it to the Blair/Brown government …”
Go on, then, if you really are a truthseeker, find these other sources! And would your sources really refute the facts presented in the sources that Alex has kindly provided?
‘Truthseeker’ then resorts to abuse – the usual fallback of the defeated debater.
Alex’s fine article was about Thatcher, not about Callaghan or Blair or Brown.
And it is a strange fallacy to assume that because one criticises Thatcher, one cannot also criticise Labour leaders.

Claus O. 17 April 2013, 04.39

Good stricke, cut the Main Thatcher Legend.
Thatcher is the death grabber of Social Life for People in Gerät Britain.

Dan 17 April 2013, 14.57

good article, my arse.

How can any articel that is sooooo one sided be a good read……!


Bob Wyper 17 April 2013, 19.44

Pick a side and state your case… after all, that’s all the author has done here. There are enough statistics that can be used to show both sides of any argument, AND it can be done for any leader you care to mention. The fact is that it’s an impossible job leading mindless masses to a destination they have never heard of let alone will help you achieve, by a route that is difficult and fraught with problems (often created by the very people you are trying to help), and that only a brave few will make any effort to put themselves forward for such a task. Also remember that there will NO THANKS handed out for all the effort you put in, if you ever do try to lead any group… ask Maggie.

KT 17 April 2013, 21.09

The lady has died…..leave it people….there was none of this media/ comments/protests before she died…..disrespectful that you all do it when he has died..and in front of her grieving family too on the day of her funeral too.

Prof Andy Ross 19 April 2013, 14.25

If readers don’t like the 50’s comparison, then anyone can check the UK long-term growth for themselves- easy from ONS. Go back even to 1850, if you wish, there is no noticable ‘economic miracle’ after 1979 compared with the UK’s long-term trend.Unless, you assume, without much evidence, that the counter-factual is that groth would have been much less without her, but then the confounder is whether it was economically sustainable growth anyway since Thatcher. Much was financial growth, that may have crowded out other sectors of the economy and may well have been the beginning of the subsequent recessions. Many economists, e.g. Lord Turner, believe that although the finance growth did bring tax revenues for UK governments much of it is essentially socially useless.

Paul Thomson 21 April 2013, 21.35

A shame that this accurate and true biography, will not reach parliament and mainstream journalism

james harper 5 May 2013, 18.09

The article is riddled with factual errors, which odd given the accusations of mendacity in the wider media at the start of your article. Even after you provided sources, you seem to prefer a 1992 book for much of your data, rather than actual sources of official data.

It’s not exactly confidence inspiring, but not surprising given your matter-of-fact writing style.

The quotation marks you’ve put around ‘terrorist’ really say it all. What Thatcher actually said was in relation to the ANC: “This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is”. This was in the aftermath of the ‘necklace’ lynchings of alleged traitors in the townships, publicly endorsed by leading ANC figures including Winnie Mandela.

So who’s lying now?

Comments are now closed on this article.

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