Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Shades of grey with the Iron Lady Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher gave millions of people the benefits of home ownership, yet depleted the stock of social housing. She freed up the market, giving years of growth, but had a hand in the subsequent recession.

She defeated the demagogue Arthur Scargill but impoverished the miners and destroyed the industry in the process. She fought a stupid but lucky war in the Falklands, but in doing so helped depose the dictator Galtieri.

She reduced direct taxation to reward the entrepreneurial, yet failed to reduce the overall tax burden. She won a needed battle with excess union power, yet left many workers unprotected from exploitation.

She privatised many industries that should never be under control of the state, but shied away from more difficult organisations such as the Royal Mail, railways and NHS. She reduced the power of the state, but not its cost.

She showed that women can handle power, but destroyed the illusion they would do so in a pragmatic, compassionate way.

She understood what was wrong with Europe, but like all British politicians failed to find an alternative.

It's not all black and white, you know.

PETER BARRETT

By e-mail

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