The Cambridge Union is proud of Margaret Thatcher

I was pleased last night with Peter Lilley and Edward Leigh to be on the winning side at the Cambridge Union. The motion taking pride in Margaret’s period in office was carried.

It was no stroll in the park. There were plenty of neo Marxists, left inclined thinkers and some Labour supporters who seemed to think Margaret Thatcher was allied to Pol Pot, Stalin and other nasty autocrats, as their lead speaker himself seemed to imply. Some thought the Falklands victory an exercise in xenophobia. Some seemed to think Margaret Thatcher rather than Aurthur Scargill split the miners’ Union. A few seemed unaware that Margaret Thatcher had won three elections in a row and had never been defeated by the electorate. They had bought into the myth that she was some kind of class warrior foisted on the British people by forces unseen from multinational companies or the Establishment.

I said five things that I felt needed saying.

1. Margaret in office was always most concerned personally about people around her, supporting them in difficulties, writing notes to them at times of trouble and showing great courtesy. She would always ask what could the UK do to help whenever she heard of a tragedy anywhere in the world. She was the best boss I ever worked for.

2. She helped Ronnie Reagan win the Cold War. Surely it is good news that Eastern Europe has been liberated from the grip of communism? That was only possible because the Western alliance was resolute in the 1980s.

3. At home she introduced demcoracy to the Unions. She wanted Aurthur Scragill to ballot his members about a strike. His failure to do so split his Union, and represented a challenge to the legal authority of Parliament.

4. She allowed many more people to buy their own home, and shares in the business they worked for. She believed in empowering more people through ownership. She championed the worker and the saver against the vested interests of the establishment.

5. She taxed the rich more . She knew that if you set lower and more realistic rates of tax, the rich will come here, stay here, create jobs here. It worked. Mr Blair kept those rates. Mr Brown is changing them in a way which will damage both the country and his party.

We conceded that mistakes were made and some things could have been done differently and better. That may be a topic for another day and another place.

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23 Comments

  1. Simon D
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Spot on. It would be difficult for anyone who did not live through the 1970s to understand what a mess the country was in by the end of the Labour administration.

    Another canard, which needs to be nailed, is the fact that Margaret Thatcher “destroyed our industrial base”. This is often trotted out by the left and its clients in the media. When time and space permits perhaps you could explain how to rebut this untruth.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    A good win in probably an unwelcome away venue.
    See from this blog you seem to have won over one of the opposition.
    Only another 3 or 4 million to go.

  3. jim
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Her greatest failure though is also the greatest failure of the Conservative Party, she was a statist authoritarian. So she never removed power from Downing Street, pushing it down to the people, where it belonged. So when Labour came to power, there was no way to stop them abusing that power.
    So now Labour has achieved its goal, more and more people are being pushed down into poverty, where they will become reliant on the state and thus more likely to support Labour.
    As we already know Cameron is an authoritarian and has rejected libertarianism, we can probably predict what will come next. Maybe he will turn things around in the near term, but it won’t make any difference in the long term, as labour will eventually get back in and wreak havoc again.
    So we are trapped in a desperate cycle, without end, all because the Conservatives won’t give any power to the people when they are in office, thus stopping Labour from imposing socialism, when they are in office.

  4. oldrightie
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Excellent to see how young people are beginning to see through the socialist veneer of being sort of OK.

  5. Demetrius
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    As someone who was in the foothills of managing things at the time, it is difficult to describe what a shambles it all was by 1979. Given the number of issues where there were no “right” decisions, only to hope for the least worst, Mrs. Thatcher made a better job of it than expected. Of course it was never going to be 100%, of course events forced some issues, she never “wanted” the Falklands, she was just landed with a very nasty business to deal with. Later on she did not really grasp how quickly things had begun to move. With the poll tax, it should have been carefully phased with Education taken out of it. And she had a lot of stroppy macho types in her own party. As someone who is about as cynical as you get, my view is that we should all grow up when discussing her period of office, it was a period of very rapid change and great dangers.

  6. Alex
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    As a first-year student at Cambridge and member of the Union, I was at the debate last night and would just like to congratulate you on the strength of your speech and the victory for the Ayes. I was quite surprised that the motion carried, but also very pleased that it did. Well done.

  7. Robin
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    What did Thatcher do about red-tape?

    Gordon introduced rules so that nannies and housekeepers are employees, and their employers must pay NI. Brown’s excuse for paying his brother the money is that “it simplified NI payments”.

    So what Gordon is saying is that the large amount of red-tape that he is burdening business with should be avoided. Why can’t Gordon employ the cleaner directly – like every body else. Why can’t Gordon fill in all the NI forms and make the employer and employee NI payments – like everybody else.

    Is red-tape only for the little people?

    With business dogged by red-tape costing billions a year. Gordon avoids it. That in my mind is a resigning matter.

  8. Robin
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Brown has broken the law

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/Taxes/WorkingAndPayingTax/DG_10027015

    This webpage says if you pay someone more than £110 a week then you must register as an employer. It was a law he brought in.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    If only she were in charge today!

  10. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    And then the some Tory party MPs stabbed her in the back.

    They will never be forgiven.

  11. mikestallard
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    As a life long member of the Cambridge Union (with the tie to prove it) I can say, with confidence:
    Socialist at Twenty; Conservative at thirty.
    And well done for winning!

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Mike
      You do not have to be a Member of the Cambridge Union to come up with the same general thoughts.

      Now you know why Labour is keen on lowering the voting age to 16. !!!!!!

  12. Callum Wood
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Once again, you were brilliant!

    I covered your blog on the Cambridge Conservatives website with a few [rather badly taken] photos:

    http://www.cuca.org.uk/2009/05/08/the-cambridge-union-is-proud-of-margaret-thatcher/

    reply: many thanks.

  13. adam
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    well done John.
    you are invaluable

  14. Monoi
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    As a foreigner who came to this country in the late 70s and early 80s on language exchanges, I can tell you that for us this was a backwards country economically, if not culturally.

    I moved permanently here in 1986 (it cost £99 and took 3 months to get a phone line connected at the time, funny how socialists forget that!)), and the transformation has been remarkable.

    I am French.

  15. DennisA
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    What a pity that Margaret Thatcher helped to start the global warming bandwagon, which the current opposition are still signed up to. Both she and Scargill jointly destroyed the coal industry and pushed us into a position of importing a greater proportion of our energy needs and a reliance on imported gas,

    We are only now realising we still need the coal that sits beneath this once pleasant but now “green” land.

    Sadly, the legal authority of Parliament has mostly been handed to the EU, from Maastricht onwards.

    I always disagreed that a public asset, council houses, should be flogged off cheap, to be sold on at a profit at everyone else’s expense. If there were still the council house stock, maybe the sub prime market wouldn’t have had such a lot of subscribers.

  16. Bazman
    Posted May 9, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    How you view Thatcher largely depends on where you live, how old you are and what you do, or for many did. For a vast number and I would say the majority she was a blight on their lives. A legacy that in the long term Labour have compounded. Communism does work, but only for the few. Communism is alive and well in Britain. An elite few lead by MP’s on a gravy train outraged by the rules and claiming to the max whilst doing everything to hide the facts. Supported by people who are in turn supported by ‘The Party’ What I would call the middle class social security system. Britain is one of the richest countries in the world and this is not reflected in the lives of most people. Well done comrade Thatcher and her understudy Blair.

  17. Brigham
    Posted May 9, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    When Maggie was in power was the only time I felt proud to be British since Churchill.

  18. gyges
    Posted May 9, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    One thing that is worth drawing attention to … according to Craig Murray’s recent testimony: she refused to accept evidence from torture.

  19. PJ
    Posted May 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Spot on,

    The Conservatives under Maggie believed in equality where opportunity was available to all and the most able could succeed regardless of how much their parents earned or who they were.

    Now look at Britain:

    – An ever expanding and increasingly stifling quangocracy stuffed with unelected cronies.

    – Ever more punitive taxes (see the last budget proposals) on people who want to save for their retirement. These have already effectively destroyed final salary pension schemes.

    – Good education increasingly only available to those who can afford to pay for it, denying opportunity to clever children whose parents are not well off and stifling social mobility.

    This situation cannot be good for the economy, it does nothing to encourage hard work and self sufficiency. It does what it was designed to do, keep the poor and low paid in a trap where they depend on state handouts and have little opportunity to escape.

    Heaven knows how many years it will take to repair the damage done by Blair and Brown.

    Thank goodness the next generation of students have seen through the socialist utopia.

    • Alex
      Posted May 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      I agree, but unfortunately I highly doubt that the Cambridge Union Society are representative of Cambridge University students, let alone the ‘next generation of students’ more generally.

      • Bazman
        Posted May 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        It’s more likely they represent the next generation of bankers and money men.

  20. Callum Wood
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Ok, I know I’ve been all over this but the CUS has footage of the debate he:

    http://www.archive.org/details/cus_2009-05-07_debate_proud-of-thatcher

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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