‘Thatcher divided the UK’
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.