‘Thatcher divided the UK’

Afshin Rattansi
Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. Afshin Rattansi began his journalism career on The (London) Guardian in the late 1980s as one of the newspaper’s youngest ever columnists. He went on to work for Britain’s Channel 4, BBC, Al Jazeera Arabic, CNN International and Bloomberg Television and many other media. In the run-up to the Lehman Brothers crash of 2008, he published a collection of four of his novels as “The Dream of the Decade – The London Novels.” As US pressure increased on Iran, Afshin moved to Tehran to anchor the news on the new satellite TV channel, Press TV which was later banned in Britain. He set up Alternate Reality Productions in London in 2010 making Double Standards, a comedy satire show as well as other TV news commissions. His writing has also appeared in the New Statesman; Counterpunch; The Oldie; Plays and Players; Mitchell Beazley’s Encyclopaedia of 21st Century; The Journal of the British Astronomical Association; Association of Lloyd's Members Journal; Critical Quarterly; Makers of Modern Culture (Routledge, 2007); “Brought To Book” (Penguin, 1994); Flaunt; Attitude. He is a founder member of the Frontline Club in London and he won the Sony Award for outstanding contribution to international media in 2002.
Ruthlessly imposing her ideas on British society, Margaret Thatcher turned the United Kingdom into a totally different country - making it more and more divided by way of a “mass sell-off of civic society,” says RT contributor Afshin Rattansi.

RT:Margaret Thatcher earned the name 'the Iron Lady' for her strong leadership and uncompromising policies. Which lessons did she help Britain learn?
Afshin Rattansi: Well, her body is at the Ritz Hotel belonging to the millionaire Barclay brothers. But, of course, the attitude of the British people towards her is very mixed… or maybe it isn’t.

Because she deliberately, and from a principal stand as she saw it, made this country into something it wasn’t after World War II, she achieved a post-World War II consensus. And what inadvertently, perhaps she would say, is that she made this country more and more divided.

And now, up to 99 percent, maybe younger generations of British people don’t remember: Britain was more of a unified nation. There weren’t so many gated communities and so forth. But Mrs Thatcher ruthlessly used her ideas, which came from theoretical ideas – [Friedrich] Hayek and so on, Milton Friedman, but they neatly fitted in with the Washington Consensus.

We mustn’t forget that she was elected very shortly after the British government of James Callaghan was in hock to the IMF and the World Bank. Her first term – was it Mrs Thatcher or the IMF and the World Bank, who were running the economic policy, what she was doing neatly fitted in a particular structure and a particular elite structure in Britain that matched different types of wishes and desires so that we would end up with asset stripping on such a large scale and the mass sell-off of civic society.

RT: Does Britain and Europe need another leader like Mrs Thatcher now at this time of economic and political crisis?

AR: Without doubt she had a massive effect, perhaps the biggest effect is on British parliament. I even remember watching her before the parliament was televised in the House of Commons. Obviously, this generation of parliamentarians watches her videos because they follow her policies. The opposition Labor Party of Tony Blair and Ed Miliband, let alone the party of David Cameron they are much more to the extreme right to Mrs Thatcher.

Perhaps Mrs Thatcher is a socialist compared to the present people in the British parliament. But she, of course, had that huge influence. As to whether they can learn anything, the tide has completely turned and the banks here are now in the taxpayers’ hands and the talk is nationalization after the massive failure, the kind of blip some may look upon it a thousand years from now of this new liberal idea of a nation of shareholders, a shareholding democracy as all we now realize what it did was to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands and ultimately cause division that was dangerous to the stability of the nation itself.