From Mr Marc McDonald.
Sir, In “Right about Britain, Europe and nearly everything” (Comment, April 9), Niall Ferguson writes that Margaret Thatcher was “right about most things”. If this is true, why is Thatcher not fondly remembered today by most British people?
Thatcher’s central economic policy was to deregulate virtually everything, slash social services to the bone and embrace hardcore, dog-eat-dog capitalism. But today who advocates this sort of thing, outside of perhaps a dwindling number of Tea Party extremists in the US?
Prof Ferguson attacks “left-leaning Brits” for being supposedly wrong about Thatcher. But as I recall, Thatcher’s foes predicted that her policies would decimate the middle class. They have been vindicated.
A great deal of the economic prosperity of the Thatcher years was really more because of the North Sea oil bonanza, rather than the Iron Lady’s policies.
Outside of the US, few nations have ever embraced Thatcher’s slash-and-burn methods. In continental Europe today, for example, few people want anything to do with “Anglo-American” capitalism. The same is true of much of today’s Latin America.
As far as Thatcher’s crushing of the unions and deregulating the economy, I would challenge Prof Ferguson as to whether even this was necessarily a good thing.
Germany, for example, still has some of the most powerful unions in the world, as well as a heavily regulated economy. And yet Germany today still has a strong middle class and a world-beating high-technology manufacturing base. Germany is one of the world’s leading capital surplus nations, while Britain runs massive current account deficits. And yet Germany accomplished its enviable economic success by rejecting the Thatcher/Reagan economic model.
Marc McDonald, Fort Worth, TX, US