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It was thirty years ago today (crossposted from my Torygraph blog) - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
It was thirty years ago today (crossposted from my Torygraph blog)

It was thirty years ago today

Mrs Thatcher taught the band to play:

Mrs Thatcher’s Mises-Hayek ba-and.


We note today – and I celebrate today – the 3 May 1979 general election.


Thirty years ago, the United States were in one of their occasional spasms of puritanical-sentimental idiocy, having elected a wholly unqualified, hectoring, moralistic nonentity whose smile and style they liked – for a few years – and whose utter and feckless incompetence very nearly doomed the world.  It certainly sowed many of the seeds now bearing a bitter harvest, unto this day.


Thirty years ago today, the Roman Church was but newly led by a non-Italian who had experienced in his youth the iron grip and inhuman evil of one of those tyrannies the Continent tends to succumb to.


Thirty years ago today, a gormless, spineless, supine, statist, economically incompetent Labour Party with its own instinct for petty tyranny, led by a hapless and disoriented PM who could stand up to no one and had no comprehension of the disaster over which he was presiding, stood upon the precipice of a lengthy and deserved political exile.


Thirty years ago, over-regulation, over-taxation, mis-regulation, statism, state corporatism, and economic folly, cosiness and regulatory capture, and a crescent ideological enemy without, who were assisted by enemies – both fifth columnists and useful fools – within, had led to a crisis of confidence in the West, and in all lands that – and amongst all peoples, particularly those who were oppressed in their own lands, who – loved and desired liberty.


Of course, thirty years ago, Britain had Margaret Thatcher to turn to.


Thirty years ago, I was seventeen years in age – I would attain my eighteenth year over the summer vac. – and preparing to leave school and go up to university.  I came of a notoriously politically involved and politically passionate family, not all of them Tories by party, or not until the Conservative Party became faute de mieux the only remaining home for those committed to classical liberalism, politically and economically.  I had at school been captain of – well, let’s not be too personal here; it would, after, be by main force that I resisted becoming Another Union Hack at university.  It will come as no surprise that I was interested and involved in the politics of the time.  And it is with a pride undiminished – indeed, rather, burnished – by the years and all that has come after, that I say, I was a foot-soldier, from the first, in the Conservative renascence led by Mrs T.


There was then, has been since, is now, and ever shall be, a load of rubbish, and outright falsehood, written about Mrs Thatcher.  This has long ceased to surprise me: I don’t any longer, if ever I did do, expect common honesty or common decency from the Establishment Left.  (Just the other day, for example, I read a catchpenny, intellectually dishonest, factually false, and appallingly unscholarly effusion of lies and special pleading in Salon by some Yank – an academic historian in name, at that, a don – hailing the Yanks’s new messiah and crying out to make smooth the way to an end to American exceptionalism and All That, with a special call to accept moral equivalency between democracies and despotisms.  Typical.)  Mrs Thatcher, like the other two members of that triumvirate – I make certain that she’d not mind being a vir for a moment, here – Mrs Thatcher, like the other two members of that triumvirate who rolled back the lowering clouds of failure and saw off the vile despotism that was the Soviet empire, has been demonised at every turn by the contemptible lickspittles of the hard Left; perhaps more so – given the strongly misogynist tone of those lickspittles’s shrieks of epicene hatred – than ever were Mr Reagan and Pope John Paul 2d.


Well, edballs to that.


The Thatcher revolution saved Great Britain – and not Britain only.  It did so in part because of the principles set forth in Lord Joseph’s Stockton lecture, Monetarism is not enough.  It did so in part because of the principles of parliamentary sovereignty and democracy under law that were the Thatcher, and Thatcherite, lodestones.  It did so in part because of the principle of the ownership society, the principle that rejected the notion, held equally, if expressed in different accents, by grandee Tories and Labourites alike, that the free subjects of the Crown were simply serfs in tied cottages whose duty it was to be grateful to the Lady Bountiful of the State.  It did so in part because of the foundational principles of Hayek and von Mises and Lord Harris of High Cross, that erected a bar across the well-trodden path to serfdom.  It did so in no small part because of the principles of middle-class, tradesman’s probity and the Nonconformist conscience that were Alf Roberts of Grantham’s legacy to his daughter: and one reason Mrs T was so hated by so many of those who hated her – not who opposed her: who hated her – was that the modern Left is primarily the last decay of the Nonconformist conscience, unmoored from ethics and religion: a process that began with Lloyd George.


Fundamentally, the Thatcher revolution saved Great Britain – and not Britain only – because it was founded in principle.


Let us take the principle of democracy under law, and the sovereignty of Parliament as being the assembly of the representatives of the people.  M Delors did not, does not, and evidently never shall, understand that principle.  Arthur Scargill – that panegyrist to this day of Stalin and opponent of Solidarność – did not, does not, and evidently never shall, understand that principle.  Mikhail Sergeyevich, if to a lesser degree than his predecessors, did not, does not, and evidently never shall, understand that principle.  Mrs Thatcher did understand that principle, and saw off all three of these gentlemen in the name of that principle.  Perhaps the most important and impressive of all her Commons appearances at the despatch box came in the debate of 30 October 1990:


I do not want the [European] Commission to increase its powers at the expense of the House, so of course we differ.  The President of the Commission, Mr Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive, and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate.  No.  No.  No.


… What is the point of trying to get elected to Parliament only to hand over sterling and the powers of this House to Europe?


… It is very ironic indeed that, at a time when Eastern Europe is striving for greater democracy, the Commission should be striving to extinguish democracy and to put more and more power into its own hands, or into the hands of non-elected bodies.


And it is only fair to note that in that debate, two other voices were raised in support of that principle:


Is it not perfectly clear that what was being attempted at Rome was a bounce which led only one way—to a single federal united states of Europe?  Is it not vital that, in this House and across party lines, it should be possible for a Prime Minister to make it clear, if necessary, that Britain is prepared to stand alone?




Is the Prime Minister aware that what we are really discussing is not economic management, but the whole future of relations between this country and Europe?  This issue is not best expressed in 19th-century patriotic language or in emotive language about which design is on the currency.  The real question is whether, when the British people vote in a general election, they will be able to change the policies of the previous Government.  It is already a fact, as the House knows full well, that whatever Government are in power, our agricultural policy is controlled from Brussels, our trade policy is controlled from Brussels and our industrial policy is controlled from Brussels.  If we go into EMU, our financial policy will also be controlled.  It is a democratic argument, not a nationalistic argument.


The first of those who agreed the principle was the then Dr David Owen, now the Lord Owen; the second, the former Lord Stansgate, then and now the Rt Hon. Tony Benn.


The ideal, the principle, of ordered liberty, of free subjects getting on with their lives in a free society, without government interference either statutory or surreptitious – the latter including tax policy – and free from foreign or domestic threat, the principle that the Crown and the people are sovereign and that Parliament is not to be emasculated into a parish council under the sovereignty of a corrupt and unelected gang in Brussels: these principles motivated us.  Ownership and opportunity – including the opportunity to fail, to fall and rise again – without the intervention of petty tyrants devoid of any democratic legitimacy, be they European technocrats, overweening civil servants, or bullies in the mould of Scargill, Gormley, and Jones (at least one of whom was the creature of far worse bullies serving a foreign state): this was worth fighting for, was fought for, and in the end triumphed.


Of course Mrs T made mistakes.  Of course she made compromises.  In order to defeat greater and more pressing evils, she averted her eyes from, or in some instances accepted with reluctance the need for, compromise with lesser.  One might say the same of Churchill.  And as her achievements are great, so too have her errors been lasting, not least the use of centralisation in Westminster in order to break local ideologues.  Yet her legacy is lasting, and inspiring, and in all salient things, good.  Most importantly, whether the question was economic, domestic, or one of foreign affairs, her answer to the question that was then being asked on every side, Who governs?, was consistent and consistently right: the Crown’s subjects, and their servants in the House.


And that legacy, like the White Horse in the Chalk, has not vanished; only the overgrowth of neglect wants cutting back.  It is her great attainment that her settlement of the question has never truly been challenged since, her answer, adopted on both sides of the House.  It is not to do over again, but merely to renew, now, thirty years on: and the sooner the better, and that ‘sooner’ is now increasingly upon us.


Rejoice.  Rejoice.


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shezan From: shezan Date: May 3rd, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
A pleasure to read, and to concur ENTIRELY with.
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