What Hath Thatcher Wrought?

This piece at the Library of Law and Liberty is brief but a nevertheless thorough summary of Dalrymple’s views on Margaret Thatcher’s term as Prime Minister. I can’t help but quote extensively, but please do read the entire piece:

Her long-term effect on her own country was far more equivocal than is commonly thought. She undoubtedly succeeded in reviving a commercial spirit among a large sector of the population, which until her had been almost dead, but in fact changed very little where the public sector was concerned – except for the worse. She found the latter inefficient and left it inefficient and corrupt…

The stridency of her rhetoric against the state disguised the fact that under her rule the role of the state remained as preponderant in millions of people’s lives as ever it had been before; government expenditure may have decreased (temporarily) as a proportion of GDP but it increased absolutely…

Her error in part was to have failed to recognize the change in the character of the British people…

Strident in rhetoric but timid in practice where it mattered most, Mrs Thatcher managed to discredit in the minds of many the very necessary reforms that never took place. Her memory, hated by many, thus stands in the way of real change…

For a time she restored faith that decline was not inevitable. But one of the lessons of her life is that one person in a democracy, however remarkable, cannot singlehandedly change a nation. We in Britain are firmly back to square one, with a public sector proportionately larger than when she came to power 34 years ago.

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