During the post-war period the railways were nationalised after years of neglect by private owners, in many ways they were seen as key to building and enhancing Britain’s infrastructure.
Thatcherism changed all of that.
Two of its key aims were to sell off the family silver and enrich its supporters, so it was with Major’s breakup of the railways.
More examples of this Thatherite attitude has been seen recently:
“Network Rail has paid out £630,000 to four of its executive directors as a portion of their long-term incentive plan (L-tip) to reflect the organisation’s performance in the period 2009-12.
However, Network Rail’s remuneration committee decided to reduce the award by 20% to take into account specific safety and train performance issues.
Patrick Butcher, finance director, was awarded £168,000, while Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations and Simon Kirby, managing director of infrastructure projects, were awarded £158,000, and Paul Plummer, group strategy director was awarded £148,000. Chief executive David Higgins did not qualify because he was not with the organisation in 2009.”
In July 2012 even the Torygraph was moved to comment:
“The taxpayer-backed company is once again at the centre of a political row, after it put forward plans to pay five directors an extra £2.6 million under two new schemes.
Under the proposals, three directors at the company will get payments of £300,000 each in 2014 just for turning up to work for the next two years.”
It pointed out the dismal record of Network Rail’s management:
“Two months later, the operator was fined £4 million over the Grayrigg rail disaster that killed one person and seriously injured 28 others.
Within the last two years, Network Rail has also been fined £1 million over the deaths of two school girls at a level crossing in 2005 and £3 million over the Potters Bar crash in 2002 that left seven dead.
The company is also under pressure over its punctuality, leaving it in danger of a £42 million fine. It has a target of running 92 per cent of trains on time – or less than ten minutes late.
At the moment, it is only providing 89.2 per cent of services within these limits, risking a £1.5 million fine for each 0.1 per cent below the target. “
Had you asked me five or ten years ago what I thought of Margaret Thatcher then I would have let forth a stream of invective and only subsided as my blood pressure reached a critical point.
But now on reflection I am not sure I could do the same. That is not to say I do not loathe every facet of Thatcher’s governments, but I feel we should avoid overly simplifying our reactions to her demise.
I think it is necessary to separate out the person from the politics and the wider consequences.
Looking at the latter first. It is hard to describe to contemporary generations what Britain was like some 40 years ago. Not only in terms of lack of technology, variation or the comparatively insular nature of society back then. Whole books have been written on the political, economic and social legacy of Thatcherism, instead I would sum those changes up in two words, privatisation and profit.
When you look at fragmented British society with its extremes of wealth and poverty that is a legacy of Thatcherism. Where other European countries have public utilities running public services Britain has a range of private monopolies, which yearly attack people’s pockets. Other countries have joined up transport and infrastructure, Britain has Thatcher’s legacy.
Nevertheless, she cannot take all of the blame, numerous politicians, some even found in public life today (Michael Portillo is but one example) were key advocates of Thatcher’s myopic policies back then.
Thatcherism has had a profound political influence in Britain, all major political parties eventually succumb to its ideas, one way or the other. The notion that the market could fix everything, or nearly everything, has been adopted by both Conservative and Labour Party. Tony Blair, was obviously from the outset an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, brought those maligned policies into the Labour Party. This can be seen by the fool hardly and dangerous changes to the NHS over the past 16 years.
But the adoption of manic pro-market politics cannot be blamed solely on Thatcher. While she was a vehicle and obvious face of those wretched ideas, others chose to pick up the policies and articulate them, with the resultant mess that we see in Britain today: scarcely any manufacturing, poor public services, poorer infrastructure and a seriously divided society
Margaret Thatcher was a singularly clever individual, who crawled her way to the top of the Conservative Party. When they had no use for her she was stabbed in the back and thrown aside.
If newspaper reports are to be believed, she suffered numerous ailments, the loss of a husband and serious dementia which is punishment enough for one person
But the other individuals, who articulated or benefited from her policies, have greater culpability.
Thatcher alone was not to blame for Britain’s adoption of vicious pro-market attitudes. Thatcher alone was not to blame for profiteering. Thatcher cannot be blamed, solely, for a financial sector, which is a law unto itself. She, alone, cannot be blamed for the lifelong misery, unemployment and destitution which resulted from her and subsequent governments’ policies.
Many, many others are to blame, as well.
She died as a sad, confused individual. A failure.
More is the pity that the pro-market nonsense she articulated can not be buried at the same time.
It is irrefutable that Paolo Di Canio is a self-proclaimed fascist.
That’s not me saying it, he boasted about it.
So it’s all the more surprising that senior management in Sunderland football club can’t find the links to Di Canio’s own words and verify them for themselves.
However, as a public service, I will help those incapable or unwilling to see the bleeding obvious.
Carl Packman tackles the issue of Italian fascism and racism straight on, Can you be a fascist, Paolo Di Canio, without being a racist?
Bonnie Greer is succinct, Stupidity and Anti-Semitism, Thy Name Is Legion.
Even the right-wing Torygraph, for once, can spot this fascist:
“Di Canio, though a wonderfully gifted former footballer, is a fascist. That’s not a slur or a smear, but a statement of fact. “I’m a fascist, not a racist,” is how the new Duce of the North East describes himself.
He has a tattoo with DVX on his shoulder, the symbol of the former Italian dictator. In his autobiography he wrote “I think he [Mussolini] was a deeply misunderstood individual. He deceived people. His actions were often vile. But all this was motivated by a higher purpose. He was basically a very principled individual.”
And in 2005 he was banned for giving a straight-arm fascist salute to Lazio fans after scoring in his side’s 3-1 win over bitter rivals Roma.
Alessandra Mussolini, the former dictator’s granddaughter, praised Di Canio, saying “How nice that Roman salute was. It delighted me so much … I shall write him a thank-you note.”
Paolo di Canio is obviously a complex character. From what I’ve read about him, his attraction to fascism is as much historical as it is political.
In an in-depth article for the Independent in 2011, an associate of Di Canio’s is quoted as saying “Paolo is not, and has never been, a bad person, or an ideological fascist. Certain things he has said and done – like the salute with the Lazio fans – have to do with his psychological history, particularly his former compulsive tendencies and pronounced mood swings.”
All of which may be true. But he’s a fascist all the same.”[My emphasis.]
When next you hear a Tory, or one of his University chums at the BBC, explain that the “welfare changes” are really to help the poor and disabled, then do remind them of these relatively unreported examples:
“…[Henry Sherlock] had been “bullied and harassed” by Atos Healthcare, the French firm slammed for carrying out the humiliating eligibility tests for the Department for Work and Pensions.
Henry worked for the DWP for 18 years until he was forced to retire on medical grounds eight years ago. He lost his sight after suffering meningitis and also has chronic heart disease, diabetes and depression. He said: “I found it such a shock being on the other side of the fence.
“Being a claimant, you are treated with total disrespect.
More begging is what the Tories want:
“When I worked for the DWP it was the case that the client came first and they were given the best support possible but now all they are interested in is cutting costs. “
MSPs were told how a blind former health worker, Henry Sherlock, was reduced to begging after being interviewed and reassessed by the Department of Work and Pensions and Atos Healthcare, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments, claiming both of them had “harassed and bullied” him.
He told how he had been threatened with having his benefits stopped after refusing to provide personal information after receiving an unannounced call from Atos one Saturday evening.”
Read what he said.
Brain-damaged amputee fit for work, says Atos:
“An amputee who cannot walk, struggles to talk and is brain damaged has been passed “fit for work” and had his benefits cut under government reforms.
Mark Evans, from Daubhill in Bolton, said his incapacity benefits were cut by £440 a month and has been left with just £220 to pay his monthly rent, bills and food.
The 50-year-old had received incapacity benefits, now known as employment and support allowances, since 1993 when he had a brain tumour. He also had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after contracting deep vein thrombosis. “
Anxiety over Atos fit-for-work test brings on father’s heart attack:
“The controversial assessments by the French IT firm are part of a benefits shake-up by the Con-Dem Government, who are looking to cut billions from the welfare bill.
Former welder Jim, who had worked all his adult life until he suffered a heart attack 18 months ago, said: “It was very clear that I wasn’t 100 per cent.
“I was sweating profusely, my breath was very laboured and I had been confused during the interview.
“I wasn’t able to concentrate on a lot of what they were saying.
“They gave me a glass of water but that was it.
“They were more concerned with asking me questions such as, ‘Can you walk 200m and can you raise your arm up in the air?’”
Jim, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow, added: “I was telling them I was stressed and that I was anxious, and that I didn’t feel like I could go out and work at that moment.”
The very next day, he had a heart attack as he was walking down a street in Glasgow’s west end. “
“Ms Burns, a mother of two boys, was diagnosed in 2011. After surgery, she underwent months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and was on the drug Herceptin until her death.
In March 2012, her employment support allowance was reduced by £30 and she was told she was fit to work, even though she was still undergoing treatment. “
We tend to think of anti-Jewish sentiment as coming from the Far Right, yet nowadays it is fairly common to find examples of it on liberal or left wing web sites. It is not overt or blunt as found amongst the extreme racists, but there are tell-tale signs: conspiracy theories and strange terminology.
I am not surprised that racists mount their pathetic hobbyhorses, rather that the non-racists who read that material at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see a problem or are willing to let it go unchallenged. If I were charitable I might conclude that most at Liberal Conspiracy don’t understand racism, and in particular anti-Jewish racism.
Shorter version: maligning Israelis and Jews gives the game away. Particularly if there is a pejorative reference to the “Chosen”, or consciously linking to Rense, a site which proffers conspiracy theories, anti-Jewish racism and approvingly advertises David Duke.
Even George Orwell spotted this form of usage in the post war period.