Sunday, March 8, 2009

Remembering the days of Margaret

Catching up on my TV dramas, I saw 'Margaret', with Lindsay Duncan powerful in the title role. These were the dramatised events of her downfall in 1990.

At the time I was at university in Aberystwyth and found the events in November fascinating - my only memories of other PMs were of Mike Yarwood's impressions - and as for the winter of discontent, when I was 11, I can well remember all the snow and the black bags outside various gates during the dustman's strike. But by 1990 I simply could not imagine anyone else as Prime Minister. Mrs T had been there throughout my entire teenage years.

Looking back, we should have seen her downfall coming - but it was a shock at the time. Unlike Tony Blair, there was no obvious person to take over. I think we all thought (and feared) that she would indeed 'go on and on'. Certainly not the fact that John Major would step in.

Of course she did great damage to this country, from which we still have not recovered (and probably never will), but two things come to mind. Firstly, for much of her reign, the top rate of tax was 60% and the basic rate was 33% - high by modern day standards. Secondly, again for most of the 1980s, unemployment was over three million - higher than today - and we got so used to it, that it didn't become an issue! I remember a main debate of the 1987 general election was defence.

This last point is quite frightening and could happen again. If David Cameron steps into Number 10, he could be there for ten years simply because we would get used to (and bored by) the recession and would forever blame Gordon Brown for it. So we must be ready to keep up the attack on both of the bigger parties - will a Cameron government cure the recession or just live with it, as the Thatcher government did, as a 'price worth paying' as the Major government did?

I will finish with a brighter note - in the 1980s we had great music, colourful clothes, good television, beer was under a pound a pint, and we were all over 20 years younger. Those were the days!

1 comment:

  1. I think there's beginning to be a bit of an Aber Mafia in the Lib Dems - it sounds like you, I and Caroline Pidgeon were all there in the early 90's!