- Category: Opinion & Comment
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Margaret Thatcher was a radical and like Donald Trump, Maggie wanted to shake things up. In the process of changing Britain Thatcher made little capitalists of all of us all by encouraging more people than ever to buy their own home and maybe even few shares in the newly privatised utility companies. Today, though, the very system Margaret Thatcher thought would popularise capitalism, has, in practice, created a situation where most people can no longer afford to get a foot on the property ladder.
Thirty years on and guess what there's another kick in the teeth is on it's way in the form of the Conservative Party's Social Plan. The very same people that bought into the Thatcher dream of owning their own home are getting older and ironically the current Conservative Party in the guise of Thatcher wannabe Theresa May, want to steal the house and assets their party urged them to buy all those years ago. The idea the Conservative Party says, is to use the money to pay for NHS & Social Care - the public services the people thought that they had paid for already in taxes taken from them throughout their working lives.
I was one of those that fell for Thatcher's spurious Property Owning Democracy argument in the 70s and 80s. Why? Well, I think it's because I didn't realise at the time, how entrenched and so tightly in control of the the economy the wealthiest at the pinnacle of our hierarchical system are? As a young man, I thought that by voting for Maggie Thatcher ordinary people could somehow rise up and challenge the elitist capitalist system and replace it with a more meritocratic version? Some have made it to the top, but only a precious few, and, in the UK, as in the US, many working people have been left behind economically, hopelessly watching as those in front of them's standard of living shoots off into the stratosphere.
Wealth inequality really matters to people because, quite apart from it being perceived as unfair, it also damages the economy in the long-run because people lose the will to work. They just never get ahead. Day-to-day struggling to stay in the same position. With average wages currently falling behind the rate at which prices are rising in the shops, prospects are actually getting worse. UK levels of inequality are now so great that I don't think that Thersa May's, Thatcherism MKII, dog-eat-dog style capitalism will produce many more Alan Sugars, or Richard Bransons, there simply isn't enough capital for them to get hold of anymore because it's pretty much all controlled at the top. I'd go even further and say that so hopeless do people feel about their prospects of challenging the elite few that control the country's wealth, that there is a grave danger that people will continue to look behind them to see if there are easier targets to squeeze to improve their lot. The low paid getting benefits, the disabled, the asylum seeker and the much maligned Johnny Foreigner.
This backward looking attack on the vulnerable, because perhaps changing things at the top is thought too radical, even impossible, we have experienced a dramatic rise of UK, US and EU Nationalism. Put simply, the task of upsetting the system, bolstered in part and managed by the capitalist owned press, the vast majority of people no longer believe they have a hope in hell of getting a fairer crack of the whip. To make a difference in our lives I believe we are looking in the wrong place for the problem. We shouldn't take comfort for our lot by hitting out at scapegoats and instead, have the courage to face the real threat to our collective standard of living, which is the interlocked, embedded and widely accepted power of Britain's ruling few - the land owners the fat-cat CEO's earning ten, or even twenty times average earnings at the same time as reducing rights to trade union representation and national collective pay bargaining that help secure better pay for hard working people.
To reduce inequality in the UK, to make things better for everyone, we need structural change, not a return to the over unionised 1970s, but nonetheless, a change in how we too easily accept that those in control know what's best for us. Above all, we need to radically rethink how things should done as a community, and try to resist the temptation to view our society as a series of self-interested individuals as Margaret Thatcher appeared to want us to become all those years ago.
At no time since 1983, have the British people had a better chance at a General Election to work towards a more equal and prosperous society. "Greater worker insecurity" (in the words of the Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan) was once believed to drive a capitalist economy forwards, but the system simply isn't working for everyone and we need a radical change of ideology, a paradigm shift. Twenty-first century Britain needs to find something as equally radical as Thatcherism to counteract an unthinking, over- marketised and failing economic system. Jeremy Corbyn, like Margaret Thatcher, is a radical, but unlike the arch, near religious, free marketeer she was Corbyn will insist that people are paid properly, are treated fairly at work and, unlike Maggie's favourite economist Alan Greenspan, rather than increasing "worker insecurity" to help the UK compete with China, India and their illk will get rid of Zero Hours Contracts and stregthen workier rights. You never know, maybe with security at work, UK plc will do better under a radical, Corbyn led, Labour Government than his critics in the press can imagine possible?