David Thompson


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November 15, 2009


carbon based lifeform

"Year zero policies"? Wow. They smoke 'em strong over there.


Does David T ever get embarrassed by his co-bloggers?

Simen Thoresen

So much emoting.

I wonder who the next strong leaders who will actually manage to do something to the issues of today will be, and what we'll hate them for after they have completed their work?



The dinosaur left compares Thatcher to the Khmer Rouge and the Reign of Terror because it makes THEM look important.

carbon based lifeform

"the idea that Thatcher was responding to militant unionism rather than formenting it is ahistorical claptrap."

Hahahahahahaa. No power cuts, no lorry drivers strike, no unemptied bins, no rats in the street, no picketed hospitals, no locked graveyards, no 3 day week. The Winter of Discontent didn't happen, people!

Talk about Year Zero.


Ahh, bless. Still, I have a soft spot for 'Harry's Place' No-one that has brought us the literary pretensions of the Legal Director of the BNP, one Lee 'Hemingway' Barnes, can be all bad:



"The only time I have ever felt a class war was being conducted was by Mrs Thatcher"

The projection is hilarious.



“So much emoting.”

At times it’s practically operatic. Not so strong on argument though, or historical accuracy. And speaking of history, this film may amuse. It’s worth watching in full:



Perhaps he has also mistaken his wife for a hat?



“Talk about Year Zero.”

Quite. Arthur Scargill, Dennis Skinner and their associates were fond of denouncing almost any opposition as “the class enemy,” irrespective of the actual backgrounds of those being denounced. I remember an Independent interview with Scargill in which he revealed that even tea drinking was a matter of class consciousness. And once you’re stuck inside this “class war” rhetoric of “us and them” - as so many at the time were - there’s literally no solution, short of force. Debate descends into role-play. It becomes theatre.

Karen M

"the idea that Thatcher was responding to militant unionism rather than formenting it is ahistorical claptrap."

Heh. Naked revisionism. What a surprise.

"I went to cabinet suggesting a package for the miners which, if approved, I thought would mean there could be no way he could ever get a strike ballot. It included: no compulsory redundancies; early retirement if they wished it at the age of 50 on incredibly generous terms; expanded mobility allowances if they moved to another pit; a good pay increase; and an £800m capital investment programme for the coal industry... The important thing is that nine coal fields, against his wishes, held a ballot and eight of them voted overwhelmingly against strike action. Only one voted for strike action - by a majority of just 2%. Then he used violent picketing to cause a strike. Not a single union in the country supported the strike and Scargill didn't have the Labour Party's support... The demand he made and stuck to until the very end of the strike was that the government should guarantee that no pit would ever close if it had any coal in it at all. There's no mining industry in the world under Communist governments or anybody that's ever done that. He knew it was an impossible demand, that's why he kept to it because he wanted to bring down the economy and a democratically elected government. It wasn't a strike for pay or for industrial reasons, it was a strike totally for political motives."


But forget what really happened -try new improved socialist history! You'll always be right!



Exactly. Reading some of the HP comments, you could easily get the impression that Thatcher was some ex nihilo phenomenon or an inexplicable fit of vandalism, rather than a belated reaction to decades of state control, crippling debt and industrial ossification. Whatever you make of any particular policy, Thatcher’s reaction to the threats of opportunist leftwing ideologues was both brave and essential. When Scargill – an avowed Stalinist - defied his own members, broke the law and threatened to bring down the elected government of the day, it became necessary to defeat him unequivocally. Scargill’s demands were self-serving and absurd, and deliberately so. His delusional ideology and insatiable ego defined the terms of the conflict at the expense of those he claimed to represent. The miners’ strike became Scargill’s own psychodrama writ large - an insurrectionary project in open conflict with the law and constitutional politics.

As Oliver Kamm pointed out,

“It was a strike about politics, not economics. The central demand of the strike - that no pit be closed for any reason other than exhaustion - made no economic sense, and no democratic government would have been able to accept it... The miners’ demands were a sectional claim that their own interests should take precedence over the public good. That claim made sense only in the context of the ideology of the miners’ leadership: insurrectionary politics geared at bringing down an elected government... The strike was not merely a protest against industrial closure. It was an attempt to supplant the authority of an elected government.”


But as you say, socialist history on the subject is much more flattering. Ideal for those who want to stay angry indefinitely, playing at thwarted virtue.

Simen Thoresen


It was a strike about politics, not economics. The central demand of the strike - that no pit be closed for any reason other than exhaustion - made no economic sense, and no democratic government would have been able to accept it...

I've seen this blatant disregard of the economic basics a number of times, and I'm quite disturbed by it.

After studying (a nonacademic term for reading haphazardly) economics for a year and ha half, I've found a great many of my preconceptions validated. I've come to regard the economics of a situation as being akin to the natural laws governing other interactions. Thus, nothing can be consumed if it is not first produced, and producing something that consumes more valuable goods in it's production than the finished product is worth is wasteful. Thus economics set lower-bound limits on all activities - they either are productive (and can theoretically be scaled up forever as long as all requirements are met), or they are wasteful, and can only be pursued as far as other productive activities can cover for their waste.

I keep being surprised that people don't get the basic situation that if something was scaled up to twice or three times the current activity, we'd be broke.

Miners digging in uneconomic mines, are essentially hobbyists requiring society (thus everyone else) to fund their hobbies. I see this as deeply antisocial.

Of course, miners thus striking, would be a net gain to society, unless they were able to badger others into joining them.

In my native country of Norway, we have the same situation, in that our farmers are an income matching the governmental farming support - thus their farming provides no actual added value, which makes me think of them as jobless, but with large lawns.



Class warriors still hate Thatcher because she *didn't* play class war, she just made them look stupid. She was more in tune with British working class values (responsibility, merit, work ethic, family) than Scargill who was basically a jumped up freeloader.


Simen & svh,

The mismatch between strands of leftist ideology and traditional working class / bourgeois morality is often quite funny in a grim sort of way. I suppose the mismatch is most obvious today with regard to immigration, where many working class people take the view that a person should pay into a benefit system before taking from it. This tends to conflict with the view, most common among Guardianistas, that a newcomer from country X can arrive and make several claims without having contributed via taxation, etc. I’ve read more than one Guardian commentator dismissing the former view as “typical of racist little Englanders,” which carefully ignores the actual point of contention. (It’s always heartening to see middle-class leftwing commentators casually dismissing as “racist” a moral argument based on reciprocity and a sense of community. And there’s something to be learned when those who profess to care for “the proletariat” show sneery disregard for the views and moral values of that same group of people.)

Like many working class children, I was told to work hard and be responsible because, “the world [i.e. the state] doesn’t owe you a living.” (This wasn’t some shocking Thatcherite dogma; this is – or was – a fairly traditional ethos.) But the message from many class warriors of the 80s was precisely the opposite: “The state *does* owe you a living, and a nice one at that.” And this belief often results in a sense of infantilised entitlement – a belief that one is by default entitled to what others have, at someone else’s expense, and irrespective of one’s choices and what one does or doesn’t do. And if a person is encouraged to be irresponsible regarding their own situation, or that of their children, it doesn’t bode well for their interactions with others.


The contributary model of social welfare was replaced by the entitlement model during the 1970s with no fanfare and no debate. Social justice means that needs outweigh any other consideration


Historically, the welfare state was funded on entitlements given to retirees and the unemployed, paid for by the workers. They in turn were given the promise of receiving similar benefits when their turn came.
See the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_state on this.

Thus today, the situation is the same, except that the scam is a little more obvious.

Contributory models - where one saves, and then later consumes ones savings - do not require any large-scale state management and are not as such socialist. It's the redistributive models - where someone consumes what others produce - that require state management.

I'd guess that the contributory model was an attempt to de-socialize the welfare state, and to make it appear both economically feasible and supportive of a productive society.



The difference between the contributary and entitlement model is illustrated by the recent speech of Gordon Brown:

"There are concerns in some areas about how social housing is allocated. And I want to emphasise the importance of local councils, following the new guidance we have just issued asking and encouraging them to give more priority to local people and those who have spent a long time on the waiting list"


When I grew up, there was a points system in social housing that was tilted towards rewarding those who had been waiting the longest. That changed over many years. In this speech Gordon Brown is tacitly accepting that the system has been tilted too far towards those in need at the expense of those who have waited.

I don't place much value by the promises of Gordon. This is merely a speech designed to stop Labour votes haemorrhaging to the BNP.

Most people of my parents generation assumed that National Insurance was a contributary model. You paid your "stamp" and were thereby granted access to the relevant benefits. It replaced a model of voluntary societies that dealt with health provision and unemployment insurance. There was an acceptance that some people would draw more than others but this is no more redistributive than insurance.

sackcloth and ashes

In Graham's defence, I've seen his comments on HP for a while, and he's a long way from being the Dave Spart-style nutter that some of the comments here presume.

He does also have a basic point, which is that the outcome of the miners' strike had a traumatic effect on many working class communities. Granted, the Conservative government didn't round up strikers and send them to KR-style death camps. Granted, Arthur Scargill bears primary responsibility for the whole mess. But you don't have to be a raving trot to sympathise with (say) North Yorkshire or South Wales miners who saw their livelihood go down the pan, and folk memories of the way the Met behaved on riot duty (where they acted almost like an occupying army) should be borne in mind as well.

When even someone like Norman Tebbit expresses retrospective regrets about the way the strike was handled - if not the actual need to ensure that Scargill did not get his way - you've got to take notice.

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