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From Mick Piggott

Monday, 8 April 2013

With all the media, celebrity and politician sycophancy about Thatcher, let's remember this is the prime minister who:

  • Was a friend of the mass-murdering torturer Pinochet;
  • Called Nelson Mandela a terrorist;
  • Effectively destroyed Britain's manufacturing capacity and delivered us into the hands of the bankers who destroyed the economy.

These crimes may well be remembered far longer than her destruction of trade union strength, and the beginning of the dismantling of welfare, not to mention the privatisations that blighted the railways and the essential utilities.

Thatcher's legacy is a terrible one for our country, and many will be celebrating her long overdue death. Including me.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Mick, I have a great way for you to celebrate. Come and join the fight against the bedroom tax which is quite a direct legacy of Thatcher given what she did to social housing.

In case you or anyone else hadn't noticed(!) there is a public meeting in Halifax on Thursday - details are on the What's on page.

From Eleanor Land

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

She was our first woman Prime Minister yet did absolutely nothing for women, except decry feminism. The divisions she caused in society are still with us.

My father was a miner who had retired because of illness before the miners strike, he never belonged to the union. He was however disgusted when she described miners as "the enemy within". My father and some of his workmates had fought a war for this country and were now in this mad woman's mind the enemy. She lay waste to mining communities turning the police into the English branch of the Stasi.

She got rid of the link with average earnings for pensions, thereby making British pensioners some of the poorest in Europe. She unleashed the Bankers, for which we are now reaping the whirlwind. Her privatisations have resulted in foreign companies ripping us all off. Our housing crisis is a result of her vindictive policy to stop social housing being built. She decimated of manufacturing base which led to our disastrous dependence on the financial sector.

In my opinion she was the worst Prime Minister of the twentieth century.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Maggie Thatcher was a strong leader whom the UK desperately needed at the time. Inheriting a state that had become too large, that was running a state airline, state broadcaster, state railway, state coachways, sate coal, state power, state water supply, telecome, road haulage, aero engines, aircraft production, nuclear power, nuclear weaponry, ship-building capability, banking, state car maker and we even had a state owned travel agent. With the exception of the bank, every single one of these state businesses made a loss!!!

To start a business, it was almost impossible, anyone who was successful was taxed to the extent they left the country. Our industrial relations were a laughing stock as a dispute in one state business could mean a strike in another unrelated business, it was a catastrophe.

Thatcher changed all that. She gave us a sense of individual responsibility, the attitude changed from 'what are they going to do about it' to 'what am I going to do about it'. She gave us a sense of competing with the best, not second best. The decline in industry did not happen under Thatcher, it was inevitable, it started in the 60s when instead of businesses improving, they were nationalised or bailed out. They were protected from the free-market and as a result got complacent in the domesti market and simply not up to the job to compete in export markets.

Bringing Britain up to date, the privatisations, the competetiveness, the ambition and aspiration she gave people bought out the best in those who wanted to succeed, it also bought out the worst in those who thought the world still owed them a living.

It wasn't all good, her stance on South Africa & Mandela was wrong, she should not have allowed the miners to destroy themselves with Scargill. Pinochet may have been favorable compared to Allende but turning a blind eye to his crimes was wrong. We may have benefitted from that in the Falklands but it was wrong.

Thatcher's legacy is of a flawed great, I think that had Hesletine had the guts to go for it in '88 the country would have been better for it and perhaps would have made New Labour dead before birth.

I think those celebrating her death lack class. You didn't see Conservatives or Lib Dems celebrating the Death of Jim Callahan or Harold Wilson, disagreeing with someone is one thing, to lose all dignity is sad.

RIP Maggie

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

As a broad-brush approach I wouldn’t entirely dismiss what David says, but it includes rather too much myth-making. Thatcherphiles are now bent on selling us the idea that before 1979 there was no enterprise, no self-determination, no opportunity to fulfill our potential. We were all shackled by the state and a dependency culture.

This simply isn’t true, and never was. If stoned dropouts in the 1960s and 1970s could start thousands of businesses in music, fashion, food, publishing and the rest - including in Hebden Bridge - it couldn’t have been that difficult. The real obstacle was an education system that never recognised enterprise and self-employment as valid career options, and arguably still doesn’t.

I don’t know how old David is but I experienced on the ground what happened when Thatcher started ‘saving’ the economy. Close to Birmingham, Bromsgrove had a deep-rooted engineering and craft tradition and was part of the Longbridge hinterland. All that rapidly went - jobs, businesses, and perhaps most important, skills.

In no sense was it a time of opportunity. It was a time of loss and trepidation. The standard greeting in pubs went from ‘How you doing?’ to ‘Still working?’ Though I was in quite well-paid work throughout, I felt the hopelessness and could be brought close to screaming point listening to Thatcher, in that other-worldly voice, telling us there was no alternative to the elimination of industry, skills and communities. It was so callous and unsparing that I thought she was actually insane. And what happened to Bromsgrove was mild compared to what happened elsewhere in the politically dispensable midlands and north.

Thatcher was also too paranoid to be a good leader, and nothing showed that better than her ‘enemy within’ slander against the miners - men who were proud to do dirty, dangerous and essential work and whose only sin was to want to protect their communities and way of life. Creating a mini police state to defeat the miners was not statesmanship. It was showing who’s boss, which is not the same thing.

Overall, Thatcher was good at knocking things down but had no idea how to build them back up again. Bear in mind that she never ran a business, and married a millionaire who inherited family wealth. Her real legacy is the greed culture that has now damaged us far more profoundly than any other postwar government could have managed.

From David Telford

Thursday, 11 April 2013

I wasn't very clear Graham, yes it was theoretically no harder to open a limited company in 1979 than it is today.

What I meant was that in so many sectors, there was a state run business competing with you. A courier was up against Roadline, a removals firm against the state owned Pickfords. Earlier in The 70s if you had a travel business you'd be up against a street owned Thomas Cook. If you pressed steel for cars, you were up against Pressed Steel and even if you were better than them (they were apalling) the state car maker wouldn't use you. If you made cars, you were up against Leyland with a subsidy of millions each week and if you had a medium sized car, Leyland had 7 competing cars out of 5 factories using 4 different engines, no common floorpan, 5 different gearboxes . . . you get the point.

You could not invest outside the UK so shared expertise was difficult and if you succeed, most profits were ducked away in tax so could not be re invested or enjoyed

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 11 April 2013

David - Yes, all good points that I wouldn't argue with.

From Ron Taylor

Thursday, 11 April 2013

I seem to remember someone saying of Thatcher that she knew "the price of everything but the value of nothing". It just about sums up my view of her legacy.

From Richard Peters

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Glenda Jackson's speech is a pretty good summing up of the legacy of Thatcherism - see youTube clip

From Eleanor Land

Friday, 12 April 2013

In the week when many disabled and poor people see swingeing cuts to their benefits implemented, our Coalition Government have decided to spend up to £10 million on a funeral for Mrs Thatcher. This decision emphasises the widening disconnection between the lives of ordinary people and the elite who purport to represent them.

From Rosey G

Friday, 12 April 2013

Totally agree Eleanor. Why should a multi millionaire family have to use tax payers' money. The poor and disabled who are having their money cut will have to pay for their own funerals. One half certainly don't know or care how the other half live. Shame on the Coalition Government. This should never have even been discussed or an option. The family should have arranged and paid for their mother's funeral like everyone else has to do.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Eleanor and Rosey, I think you have to put Thatcher's funeral in context. Her family may or may not be well off but it's an occasion that is going to attract current and former heads of state from around the world, current and former PM's, royalty etc. I don't think it's really feasible for the family to pay the hotel bills, air-fares and security for all those guests.

The security bill isn't helped by the threat from protesters.

From Mo Norwood

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

We all have our own ways to commemorate the passing of Thatcher. I am rejoining the Labour party on Wednesday morning. Anyone else ?

From Jim M

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Amazed - we are paying expenses for mourners from abroad to come to tomorrows funeral ! - David are you sure. And do you think it is a good use of tax-payers hard earned money?

From Richard Woodcock

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Justifying the huge cost to the taxpayer, David Telford talks about the "current and former heads of state from around the world, current and former PM's, royalty etc" who will be attending Thatcher's funeral. I expect most of these people can afford to pay their own air fares and hotel bills. If not, and if they're worried about security, they could always send a nice card and some flowers.

From Eleanor Land

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

All these costs could have been avoided if the family had opted for a private funeral. In my opinion this funeral has been hyped up by the Tory Party because they thought they could gain some political capital out of it, therefore the Tory party should be paying for it. They could have a whip round amongst their many tax dodging members, instead of expecting the poor and pensioners like me to pay for it out of taxes. The greatest post war Prime Minister Clement Atlee had a very simple funeral and didn't expect someone else to pay for it.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My father worked in the shipyards from the age of 14 until Thatcher's government threw him on the economic scrap heap of long-term unemployment.

From the wages of short-term, low-paid jobs or more often than not from his giro he paid the man from the Pru every week on the dot for a life insurance policy.

Every penny of it (bar the £100 left over he wanted divided amongst his grandchildren) went on his funeral. No-one else but him was going to pay for that.

No royalty, state dignitary or celebrity attended - just his family who loved him, ordinary men and women who knew him (some from afar) and the staff from his care home who took leave time to pay their respects.
Every one of them, none of them worth a bean, paid their own travel and accommodation. There were no limousines or five star hotels.
There was no security either.

But then my dad wasn't a warmonger who hated ordinary working class people and he didn't spend his working life going out of his way to savage their communities and organisations and attack the weakest and most vulnerable.

He just built ships.

From Andrew H

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Baroness Thatcher was brilliant.

She made the UK competitive again and liberated the working class. She made it possible for a generation to aspire to more, something their parents and grandparents could only dream of.

Yes her policies led to many hard working individuals losing their livelihoods but only those that worked in state funded, loss making, union dominated industries. It was those union leaders who were responsible for the collapse of those industries, the unemployment and the destruction of communities.

She deserves her place in history, she deserves her ceremonial funeral, whatever it is costing I am much happier that my taxes contribute to that than to the bloated public sector and welfare system the previous government saddled us with.

From Susan Press

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

When Thatcher died, I did not join the revellers. Why? Because there was nothing to celebrate. Now, as in 1979, our country is led by a punitive clique of rich, Establishment figures who decided to spend £10M of taxpayers' money on what was in all but name a state funeral. This was an outrage.

I just about remember Winston Churchill's funeral because my granny said we had to show our respects and we could not have the radio on.
Churchill united the country during the Second World War - Thatcher divided it and waged war on the most poor and vulnerable as this current Govt continues to do.

Attlee, whose Government built the welfare state in dire circumstances after 1945 and who was part of the War Cabinet, was not given a state funeral. Neither was any other PM in my lifetime apart from Churchill - and that was understandable.

What today amounted to was a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party - paid for by us. It was inappropriate, divisive and unwanted by millions of people. The most appropriate protest to make after this farrago is to join the fight to get rid of this Government - which by comparison makes the Thatcher years benevolent. Roll on 2015

From Ben Plumpton

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I'm commemorating her funeral today by wearing my "The Enemy Within" badge dating back to the miners' strike. Might dig out the "Evict Thatcher not Greenham women" one as well.

If you were wondering what that £10 million could have paid for, here's some examples.

I agree with previous comments that Thatcher's legacy is selfishness and greed, well demonstrated by all the big business tax avoidance going on. The present culture of blaming the poor, jobless and disabled for everything follows from that legacy - remember she said "there is no such thing as society" - let the weak suffer.

But also, don't forget the her 'Section 28' which aimed to put lesbian and gay people back in their closets, and called us 'pretended families'. Nasty nasty stuff, which blighted so many lives. I suspect plenty of people in Hebden remember that...

Cameron says "We are all Thatcherites now." I don't think so Dave, roll on 2015...


From Eleanor Land

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I would like to point out that I am working class and Thatcher did nothing to liberate me. She did absolutely nothing for women. My liberation came when I saw the back of Tory governments, led by her and Major. I saw George Osborne crying today. I note he hasn't shed any tears for the disabled and vulnerable people who have committed suicide as a result of his policies.

From Joe Ridley

Thursday, 18 April 2013

With reference to a much misunderstood phrase that the left have hijacked; here is what Thatcher actually said:

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it: 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.

There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

This is as true today (after the disaster of Brown and Blair) as it was then.

The tragedy is that the state is relied upon far more now than it was then. It is very depressing to read the contributions to this thread and realise that there are so many people who want to feed at the teat of the state and believe that the rest of the population want that also; we don't!!

From Rosey G

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Well said Eleanor, no tears shed when people committed suicide because of his policies and also no pennies provided towards their funerals (not millions of pounds), their families had to pay. Many young people sadly committed suicide when CSA was brought in and nobody cared or helped to pay. When all these important people from abroad, Ex Mp's etc want to attend Margaret's funeral shouldn't they be paying their own air fare/hotel bills, we would be expected to pay our funeral bills etc.

From Cllr James Baker

Thursday, 18 April 2013

I have a very mixed view on Thatcher, I certainly think her stance on Apartheid was immoral. However the blackouts of three day weeks people who lived in the 70s tell me about don't sound like days of milk and honey.

I'm glad she helped made it easier for people to do business and family members have benefited from the right to buy their council house. Inevitably the politics are far more complex and nuanced than the pantomime goody/baddy mythology the left & right argue over.

One thing that makes me have some sympathy with her is the protests on the day of her funeral. These remind me of the actions of the Westboro Baptist church - fuelled by hate and anger.

There is a reasonable point about a £10 million on the funeral was out of keeping with the mood of the times, but quibbling over the cost of someone's funeral seems a bit petty and mean.

From David Telford

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Eleanor Land I’d like to take the emotion out of the debate because we start exaggerating the effects of Maggie but I think you are being disingenuous in saying Thatcher did nothing for you as a Working class woman.

Thatcher gave the working class a voice, she democratized the unions so that workers were empowered union members rather than union leaders. The UK's strike record, the worst in Europe, did not help workers. The Thatcher reforms gave union members the right to vote for their leaders in secret postal ballots without undue influence and gave them the right to be balloted ahead of possible strike action. These resulted in more moderate union leadership and greatly reduced industrial unrest.

She did change income tax, and the working classes were able to retain more of their earnings and moreover, the higher earners paid a higher share of the total tax revenue. Her governments steadily lowered the top rate from 83% (or 98% on investment income) down to 40%, and cut the basic rate to 25%. The low rates raised more revenue than the high ones had done as avoidance slowed, earners returned to the UK, business boomed and the tax base expanded. The top 10% who had been paying 35% of total income tax saw this rise to 48%.

She helped bring domestic violence to the fore so that it was no longer something police could just ignore.

Enforcement of equal opportunity legislation only really started under Thatcher and in the 80’s, employers actually started to adhere to the legislation.

Thatcher may have made mistakes, clause 28 is obvious, poll tax was actually a much fairer tax but needed to be a local income tax rather than flat fee.

From Eleanor Land

Thursday, 18 April 2013

I would like to point out to Mr Ridley that many people in receipt of benefits are working, they need the benefits because they aren't paid a living wage by unscrupulous employers. Are these employers also "feeding at the teat of the state", it certainly looks like it to me. Our MP's seem to be similarly addicted to the teat , but it doesn't appear to stop them demonising others.

I would just like to remind people that when Thatcher came into office one in seven children were living in poverty, when she left one in three children were living in poverty as a direct result of her policies. That fact is her epitaph for me.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Some of us may have missed a trick here. Rather than celebrate Thatcher’s death with the vile Witch Is Dead thing (I’d have gone for the greater subtlety of Bob Dylan’s ‘Maggie’s Farm’), we could have gone flat out to celebrate Clement Attlee as a much more deserving candidate for the title of greatest post-war prime minister.

His achievements were many, positive and lasting. At a very difficult time he oversaw the creation of the NHS, built homes and schools, expanded education, supported industry and employment, and introduced the safety net benefits now regarded as essential. Millions of us still have direct cause to be grateful to him and his government, and he helped implant the social DNA that runs through even most Tories. He didn’t take the Thatcher view that when the hospital is failing, the remedy is to let some of the patients die.

It’s hard to find out much about Attlee post retirement. He seems to have lived modestly and certainly didn’t grow rich on directorships and speeches. On his death in 1967, he is said to have left £7000 - not a large sum even then. All the more reason to rediscover and celebrate him now, and deny Thatcher at least some of her spurious glory.

From Gary W

Thursday, 18 April 2013

What many on this thread fail deal with is what happens to those whom rely on benefits (through no fault of their own) due to serious long term sickness and/or disability. They need the support of the welfare state to avoid severe poverty and destitution. Should we put these folk in the gas chamber like Hitler did? Should we leave them to their own resources, even if they have none? Should we reduce what little support the state provides to these 'undeserving poor'?

Not all of us will live long enough to collect a pension, yet many if not most of us will sooner or later be beset by infirmity and/or disability. Thatcher didn't reduce the size of the state (as a proportion of GDP), but she did deliberately increase inequality and had a callous cold regard for those whom fell on hard times. I lived though the 1970s and for me it was damn sight better than the experience of living through the 1980s.

From Joe Ridley

Thursday, 18 April 2013

With reference to Eleanor's point about MPs addiction to the state teat; I absolutely agree and would add that troughing would be a more apt description. The fact that we pay for 600 odd of them to live the high life in London is ludicrous.

We need representatives who live among us and the sooner the nonsense of 100's of MPs and associated staff is reformed, the better. But that's another thread I guess.

Subsidising wages with benefits was one of the many stupid things that Brown introduced in the calamitous 13yrs of labour rule. If you want to find the root of many of the problems of today, look no further than Gordon Brown. The competition for worst Prime Minister of the 21st century has already found a winner.

From Chris Green

Thursday, 18 April 2013

My jaw drops open as I read the Thatcher thread of discussions, and discover entries in praise of the divisions, the cuts and the selfishness she was responsible for. I followed Mo Norwood's lead and commemorated Thatcher's funeral by sending off my form to rejoin the Labour party. Let us recreate the social support and society her legacy and her later disciples have destroyed.

From Diane Hurst

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Okay. They had their way in staging this swingingly expensive pageant. At our expense - of course.

But History will have its own way - sooner or later, in teasing out the Truth from this very nasty Age.

Borrowed from a friendly wall somewhere

"The Iron Lady
May She Rust in Peace."

From Allen Keep

Friday, 19 April 2013

I don't care much about what James Baker thinks about Thatcher although it doesn't surprise me that he rather likes her free enterprise ideals.

But for Cllr. Baker to compare those who chose to exercise their democratic rights and freedoms and turn their backs in protest on the state funded, politically motivated charade passing before them to the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church is as staggering as it is truly offensive.

For those who may not know what they stand for a clue is in their favourite slogan - "God hates fags".

One of the many things caused people to hate Thatcher and which made them angry, Cllr Baker, were measures such as clause 28 which openly discriminated against Gay and Lesbian people.

To publicly liken protesters against Thatcher to the homophobic, violent bigotry of the Westboro Baptists is completely unacceptable. I think the best thing you could do is apologise.

From Eleanor Land

Friday, 19 April 2013

Maybe the Labour Party should have found another solution to morally bankrupt employers ripping off their workers. We all know the Tory solution is to positively help these disgusting employers to prey on poor workers, no doubt hoping some of the filthy lucre will find it's way into Tory party coffers.

From Anne H

Friday, 19 April 2013

Chris Green and others, you really shouldn't be surprised about comments supporting Thatcher. She was elected three times, so quite a lot of people must have voted for her policies - even after they had seen what she was doing to the country. I know, I couldn't believe it at the time, but that - apparently - is how our electoral system works. Democracy or something!

From Mal Campbell

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cllr Baker - perhaps you want to re-think that Westboro Baptist comment. An absolutely shocking comparison to make.

From Joe Ridley

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I'm sorry Eleanor, I agreed with you partly in a previous post but what planet are you living on when you submit comments such as:

"disgusting employers to prey on poor workers"

I assume you mean:

'people brave enough to run a business and extend that business to accommodate employees offering them meaningful employment with a wage packet at the end of the week/month'

Or have you some utopian alternative in mind?

Perhaps you could focus your anger on the ludicrous tax and benefits system in this country that penalises businesses and favours the public sector.

From Jenny B

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I have never been a Thatcherite, mainly as I am not and never will be a Tory voter.

I was however uncomfortable with the level of venom which was directed at her after her death. Surely it was quite futile to direct such hatred at someone who isn't actually around to be affected by it. Did her family deserve to hear it? Not in my view Surely they cannot be blamed for the sins of the fathers (or mother)?

One could argue that for her to develop Alzheimers was punishment enough.

Neither do I personally find James' statement of:

"One thing that makes me have some sympathy with her is the protests on the day of her funeral. These remind me of the actions of the Westboro Baptist church - fuelled by hate and anger"
as offensive as some.

I am fully aware of Thatchers abhorent prejudices, but isn't Cllr Baker, simply using one example of extreme prejudice to illustrate another?

From S Norwood

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Likening Thatcher protestors to the Westboro BC, justifying financial attacks deliberately aimed at the vulnerable. Why was this James Baker elected to the council? What a disgrace!

From Paul D

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I'm not sure if Joe is just trying to be confrontational but benefit claimants draw from a collective source that may include (shock horror) tax paid by them in that tax year and their own NI contributions. The 'our tax' comment is typical lazy Tory stuff.

The bedroom tax affects anyone unfortunate enough to be on benefits now, including those deliberately placed there by this government to appease the IMF and preserve capital accumulation at tax-payers expense - the IMF lke us are horrified now by the coalition's ineptitude, but printing money, attacking the poor and sustaining the housing and city bubbles creates gushing praise in daily papers more used to supporting fascists than Britain - irony lost on tbe right.

Our historical struggle from serfdom caste and racism owes much to the recognition at a very human level that we protect the weak not from self interest but on basic shared concerns and moral grounds. We were, are, or could become 'the poor' - the weak, the ill. Tories have no vocabulary that allows this reality to shape their world view. They don't even know they're sick. They can't build bridges that protect the needy, let alone ships.

From Charles Gate

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I'm astonished that anyone could think of rejoining the Labour Party due to the events and discussions around Thatcher's death. Blair and Brown were on the front row at Thatcher's funeral fawning away, the next Prime Minister (God help us) Ed Miliband was in the row behind. These are the people that run the Labour Party (I await the howls of protest from the Labour left). Both Blair and Brown had Thatcher round for tea and cakes at No.10. Miliband has lost out here; the best he can hope for is for Nick Clegg to pop round to No.10 asking if anyone has found his integrity that he lost there in 2010.

If people expect fairness from the continuing New Labour format they only have to see the behaviour of the Labour Party and its Leader in the last few days to know that is false hope. 200+ Labour MPs abstained on the retrospective workfare bill that sees unemployed people denied wages for taking up workfare posts (at least Linda Riordan MP opposed – well done) – this is just slave Labour. Just yesterday Miliband campaigning in his brother's old seat refused to say he would get rid of the Bedroom Tax, in stark contrast to Calderdale Labour Councillors motion to this Wednesdays Full Council (lobby against the Bedroom Tax starts 5pm at Halifax Town Hall).

All this is reason for people to be leaving the Labour Party in droves not rejoining.

People should remember that funerals can be highly emotional times and important judgements should not be made at times of high emotion as actions once made can come back to haunt you.


Charles Gate (Calderdale Green Party member)

P.S. Well done to Todmorden Town Councillor Richard White for leaving the Lib Dems over their support for Trident replacement and the Justice and Security Bill.

From Joe Ridley

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Note to Paul: I am not a Tory; never have been! You don't know me or anything of my background. Please don't make assumptions about me.

The many sources you refer to that pay for benefits payments include the taxes I pay personally and as part of my business. A significant payment is also made via debt that will ultimately be paid by my children and their children. As Gryff Rhys-Jones correctly pointed out on Thursday night, the countries that lend us the money have a far lower standard of living than us. What a thoroughly immoral way of running a country. Please don't patronise us with the nonsense about people being paid benefits from money they've put into the system themselves; it just doesn't wash.

I just feel there has to be a balance on this forum to the diatribes of the left and the spouting of Labour Party propaganda and I'm happy to offer an attempt at that balance.

I note Paul that you persist in the nonsense of using the term 'Bedroom Tax'. Must you? Don't you feel you are being disingenuous? Has the Labour Party promised to reverse the change to Housing Benefit? No, it has not and most likely won't do.

From Eleanor Land

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The planet I live on Mr Ridley is the one where many people in Britain are paid wages that do not cover even meagre living costs. This results in them being dependent on the State to top up their wages to allow them to house, feed and cloth themselves. Not only are my taxes supporting them, they are supporting their employers - many of whom avoid paying their taxes. Many of these companies are dishing out zero hours contracts which mean their employees don't know what hours they will work or whether they have a job next week or not.

My "Utopia", is a place where employees been treated fairly, a fair wage for a fair days work. Obviously that is an anathema to people like you.

Our economy is on it's knees because of a lack of demand, impoverishing a high percentage of the population is not going to address that. I am not angry, just fed up with a government demonising the poor and letting the rich get away scot free.

From Christine Drake

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The day after Thatcher's death I listened with horror to the distortion of history. The woman who focused on and championed greed and self interest became unrecognizable .

In an attempt to save my own sanity and to rescue people from a national state of amnesia. I made some signs and on Saturday I went to the square. It was my attempt to remind people of what Thatcher's policies really were.

I picketed for five days and in the process was joined by many like minded people.

Some of those who admired Thatcher also stopped. To either drop off an insult or two. Or to say my list was one sided and what about the good she did. I pointed out that I couldn't think of anything asking them what they would put on their list. Over a 5 day period there was one thing that they all agreed on. She made Britain great by smashing the trade unions. Because they had too much power.

While I have always know that trade unions are not perfect. I have always known that all the benefits working people have did not come from the benevolence of the bosses. It came from ordinary men and women who struggled fought and died to secure those benefits for all. And I suspect those who spewed out that rhetoric took those benefits too.

Regarding some points raised by other contributors.

According to one Thatcher gave working class women a voice. As a working class women I personally had a voice in spite of her not because of her.

She also gave people the right to buy. The right to buy something that wasn't theirs in the first place. They were sold at a knock down price and are now being sold for a profit. These houses where public housing stock that belonged to us all. It was a policy that created the housing crisis we have today because that housing stock was never replaced. But it did buy votes.

Last of all, the comment regarding the cost of the funeral. Seems for those of us who think 2million to recall parliament so that the Tories could have a love in. And 10/14 million for the funeral are petty and mean if we are outraged. Well I guess that puts me in the ranks of the petty and mean.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I think the problem James Baker has with his comments is that he didn't live through the 80s.

He can't possible know what it was like to live in country where the only thing that mattered was greed. Although he seems to think - to paraphrase Michael Douglas - that greed is good.

He also can't understand that we were in a state of civil war as the whole might of the state was used to subdue the miners.

So that's why people have protested in various peaceful ways and in a democracy they have that right. I suspect that when we have a similar event for Blair then people on the right like Mr Baker will mount similar protests and I will respect them for doing so.

Now it would be easy to dismiss Thatcher loving, Bedroom Tax loving, free market loving Mr Baker as someone with fringe views. But we should remember he is leader of the Lib Dems on Hebden Royd and someone who claims public money as a Calderdale councillor.

I wonder if his colleagues on either council can tell us if they agree with his views?

From Rev Tony Buglass

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I ignored the funeral. I was fortunate enough to be leading a study day, with no access or TV or t'internet. I wouldn't have watched it if I'd been at home, largely because my own memories of her days in power are negative enough. But that's not the point, really. Her death was utterly irrelevant - the only reason it has become such an issue is because she was iconic, and a symbol for so much that people either loved or hated.

The reason there has been so much heated debate is that there is still so much unresolved hurt and hate in communities that were damaged by her policies. Yes, she inherited the mess caused by unions which had lost their vision and Governments which had no idea how to clear up the mess or cope with the wider problems caused by (for example) the oil crisis of the early 1970s, when the Arab world took revenge for the West supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War. By 1979, we were in chaos, which wasn't all down to the unions, and wasn't all down to Labour, but was nevertheless a chaotic mess. She benefited.

She has been blamed for just about everything which has happened since. Yes, it was her fault that we had to fight a war in the South Atlantic (if she'd listened to the Foreign Office, it would never have happened). She does bear a large part of the responsibility for the damage done by the miners' strike: she did want to emasculate the union, and close a lot of pits. But Scargill was the idiot who walked into the trap, and fought an illegal strike because he was too proud to play by the rules brought in by Tories. They deserved each other: they should have been taken to a desert island and allowed to handbag each other into submission. Instead, millions suffered for their ideological stubbornness, and whole areas of the North are still economically disadvantaged because of it. We blame her, which is partly fair - we should blame him as well.

And we should blame Blair and Brown, who led the so-called New Labour resurgence into the centre ground, maintaining so many of the policies and values of the Thatcher and Major years. Why? Because Labour were fatally infected by Tory values, and were trying to be a centre-left party which would keep everyone happy. And that's the problem. If we had a proper party of the left, who would vote for them? Some of us would - I've been in enough discussions in the Trades to know that some of us would willingly bring in a good left-wing party with all the sacrifices that would entail. But too many wouldn't. And trying to keep as many on board as possible means losing the radical edge of the argument.

There are serious issues facing this nation, and indeed the world. The credit bubble has burst, climate change will bring severe challenges to our lifestyle, there will be an energy crisis which will make it increasingly difficult to keep the lights on and heat our homes in winter, and the increasing gap between rich and poor will make it almost impossible to see ourselves as one community facing our problems together.

It's easy to blame Thatcher. She does bear some responsibility, she did change the political landscape in a way which has enabled everything since then. But it isn't all her fault. She's been a useful scapegoat, and her death has opened up a lot of old wounds. However, unless the whole community is wiling to accept our responsibility for the way things are, they will continue to get worse. The theological term is "repentance" - it means turning round, going back the way we came, a change of direction and a change of heart. Unfortunately, for most of us such a change would be too costly, too sacrificial. I don't see much sign of it. I'd love to be proved wrong...

From David Telford

Monday, 22 April 2013

I think Tony's and Cllr Baker's view is pretty fair and close to reality.

A lot of Thatcher's legacy has been exagerated into myth and then regurgetated as fact. The country was in a chaotic mess and it needed sorting. I don't think this was solely down to the oil crisis, other economies had the same reliance on oil and they could still produce products and services which people actually wanted. We'd got ourselves into a problem by continualy masking the problems of industry by way of nationalisation. The problems didn't go away, they simply absorbed public money and moreover, the problems of one industry often spilled over into another becuase everything became political.

Had McGregor been able to excecute his plan for the coal industry, we'd have a much larger and successful coal industry right now. We'd also have the potential to re-open mothballed pits as economics allowed. Had Scargill been honest with his members, they would have had the chance to own their pit and be masters of their own destiny (which was not something the NUM could stomach) . I'd disagree with Tony and say that Scargill was no idiot , he's still got his nice house in the Yorkshire countryside. Scargill used the miners for himself to have his day in the sun. It was all or nothering for him but he didn't have to live with the consequences. Thatcher could have played it better but she simply had to win as the country could not be held to ransome in the way Ted Heath's government was.

Thatcher could have done more to replace industry, the Washington Nissan plant was a master-stroke and replaced some lost industry in the North-East and was supposed to keep the steel industries of Teeside rolling. She should have done something similar in Yorkshire but it wasn't her plan to close down Yorkshire mining altogether.

Thatcher did not destroy manuafacturing in the UK, Output was higher when she left office than when she began. It did decline as a proportion of the total economy, but only because other sectors, especially services and finance, expanded more rapidly as the economy changed. This happened in other advanced economies at about the same time as part of a general trend. It is true that three major industries, shipbuilding, steel and coal, did decline as they proved unable to compete with other countries in these areas, but other industries, manufacturing, expanded.

It's implied that Thatcher handed out tax cuts to the rich. She did change income tax, but the rich not only paid more, but paid a higher share of the total. Her government lowered the top rate from 83% down to 40% and cut the basic rate to 25%. However, the low rates raised more revenue than the high ones had done as business boomed and the tax base expanded. The top 10% who had been paying 35% of total income tax saw this rise to 48%. Some may bear this in mind when claiming that reducing the 50% rate is a mistake.

From Allen Keep

Monday, 22 April 2013

Just a couple of simple questions for Joe Ridley.

Do you have a problem with some of your tax contribution going to support the unemployed, sick or disabled?

How should we look after these people in a civilised society?

Just wondered.

From Joe Ridley

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Just a couple of simple answers for Allen Keep.

I have no problem with some of my tax contribution going to support the genuinely unemployed, sick or disabled!

We should look after those people in a civilised society!

I also believe that far more responsibility should be borne by families, in the way it used to be. The feeling of entitlement that many people have currently is perplexing.

You see, the Labour Party used to be the champion of the working people; hence the name. However it has now transformed itself into the champion of the benefits claimant and the public sector worker. Don't you agree, a change of name is in order?

Some of us don't want to live in an overbearing and union dominated socialist country and we will fight very hard to stop that happening. We don't want the likes of Len McCluskey (re-elected by a massive 15% of the voting membership even bothering to vote) dictating to us.

We value our freedom and autonomy.

One simple question for you Allen; If jobs are so hard to come by, how come there are so many people willing to travel here from all over Europe to work?

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

They were indeed very simple answers Joe. I love the way you felt the need to write "genuine" in blood, sorry bold.

A simple answer for you. People come to live/work in this country for the same reason as those who leave this country to live/work - to make a better life for themselves. I would have thought that was obvious.

Now then, I notice "we" the taxpayers, "we" value our freedom and autonomy, "we" will fight to stop Len McClusky and the rise of a union dominated socialist country (and you asked Eleanor which planet she was on!).

Who is this "we" - who do you believe you speak for?

From Gary W

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Joe, your innate suspicion of welfare claimants sounds like it comes right out of the opinion pages of the Daily Mail. You make no mention of Pensioners whom claim just as much in 'state handouts' as the unemployed, sick and disabled put together. Do they have a culture of entitlement, or do they become saintly citizens at 65?

Many myths are peddled about the unaffordibility/ generosity of our welfare state, yet Germany spends 18% more per head of population on unemployment/ sickness/ disability benefits than we do.

From Joe Ridley

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The 'we' I refer to is the majority of people in this country who don't agree with your socialist view of the world. If you don't agree with me, please show me when the last time a socialist government won power.

Gary, your predictable response referring to the Daily Mail is yawn inducing. For your benefit, I have never bought the Daily or Sunday Mail, ever. I simply comment on my observations of life both first hand and from the TV, radio, internet and magazines. The pensioners you mention will often conjure up images of old people who have worked hard all their life managing on the £140 or so per week state pension. Unfortunately, the massive pension bill isn't made up solely of these people. You must factor in the extremely generous public sector pension scheme including those that have 'retired in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Can we discuss these matters with a dose of reality rather than flooding the matter with rhetoric?

From Darren G

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

I think the problem here about benefits is many people believe gossip, usually started by the propaganda by the spin doctors.

I can't think anyone really wants to live on the small amount of benefit. I know people have told me about a lass down the street with 10 kids and gets £600 a week etc, there's probably stories about myself doing the rounds, until I get involved then they say, ho we don't mean you, you're genuine, lol.

Being disabled can be a 24/7 job, you don't get holidays from it and if the disability isn't visable then it doesn't exist according to many, many people. I can't imagine being unemployed, knowing every job application will not even be acknowledged, the amount of people thinking I'm lazy and don't want employment. Knowing if I get employment it will be on less than I earned 6 years ago and probably part time.

So before all these people think that they know what it's like to be unemployed, sick, disabled, pensioners, it might be worth taking the time to stop, think and find out the real facts before they start slagging off less fortunate people.

After all whilst all these lies are flying around, there's only one winner and thats the ruling class of millionaires. It's called divide and rule and it's bloody working for now.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Joe makes some fair points that don't deserve such a large dose of lefter-than-thou condescension. He's right about Labour's drift away from representing all working people and communities. It is indeed perceived as representing primarily the public sector, the definition of which now seems to include those on benefits.

There's nothing wrong with that if it wins elections. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that it will. Labour will get hammered next time round if it isn't prepared to be at least as hard-nosed on welfare (among other things) as the Tories. That's not just because of our growing economic savviness, but because there is a serious popular appetite for reform, not least among those on low incomes who know how the system works and don't like it.

Dismiss it all as Daily Mail propaganda at your peril. Thatcher was successful in part because she tapped into traditional working-class values in a way that the Labour Party forgot how to do in 1979 and arguably has even less of a clue about now. The voters who made the difference saw her not as right-wing, but right.

The only politician who ticks that box now is Nigel Farage, which is pretty grim. The Tories might conceivably whip the rug from under him, but Labour never could given its present feeble leadership and non-direction. Some argue that Labour should move more to the left. Well, good luck with that one.

I realise that none of this will have much traction inside the Hebweb bubble, but remember that we didn't get Craig Whittaker as MP by accident.

From Gary W

Thursday, 25 April 2013

If Labour was so out of tune with 'all working people and communities', then why has the country not embraced your centre right alternative? The Tories haven't won an outright majority for over 21 years! Despite 13 years of continuous Labour rule; the Iraq war and a deeply unpopular PM in Gordon Brown.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Thursday, 25 April 2013

"remember that we didn't get Craig Whittaker as MP by accident."

No? I suspect we got him because Labour put up someone who was unelectable, having alienated the electorate. If Labour had put up someone who had won the hearts of the folk who made this a Labour constituency for the years previously, they could have won. The election was effectively thrown away. Craig benefitted by picking up the pieces. Please don't extrapolate from the result that Calderdale is really Tory at heart.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Calder Valley seat has been Tory for 17 of its 30 years of existence, so statistically it’s marginal with a leaning to the right. And despite it all, Steph Booth got 14,000 votes to the Tories’ 20,400 and LibDems’ 13,000. I’d hesitate to call that ‘unelectable’.

Getting back to the theme of this thread, one of the remarkable features of the Thatcher period was that ‘brand Thatcher’ was more popular than Thatcher herself. I lost count of the conversations I had with people of every stripe who would come out with some variation of: Can’t stand the woman and don’t like what she’s doing, but you’ve got to admit she’s right about... [insert almost anything]. By that means she stuck like the proverbial to a blanket. In the end it was her own party, not a popular vote, that got rid of her.

It seems to me that you can dissect the past, stick uncomplimentary labels on people, and whistle in the dark as much as you like, but there is always going to be a big chunk of conservatism in most people’s minds that won’t lie down. Ignore it and you won’t win.

From Charles Gate

Thursday, 25 April 2013

From Rev Tony Buglass, Sunday, 21 April 2013
“And that's the problem. If we had a proper party of the left, who would vote for them? Some of us would - I've been in enough discussions in the Trades to know that some of us would willingly bring in a good left-wing party with all the sacrifices that would entail. But too many wouldn't. And trying to keep as many on board as possible means losing the radical edge of the argument.”

Don’t we already have a proper party of the left and it is called the Green Party. As the Labour Party was edging further to the right during the 80s, 90s, and 00s, the Green Party was edging further to the left. Without doubt the Labour left would be in ecstasy if Labour’s social policies were half as radical as the Greens. The Greens will renationalise the railways, energy and water companies. Repeal Tory anti-union laws that 13 years of Labour Government didn’t, scrap Trident and all nuclear weapons. The list goes on and on and all Green Party policies can be found here.

A party that has Peter Tatchell in it is obviously strong on human rights, equality and diversity.

When people are asked about whose policies they prefer then the Green Party is well liked. See Vote for policies, not personalities!

Yes we already have a proper party of the left, it just requires lots of voters to dispense with their tribal instincts and we just might begin to take back the UK from the greedy and powerful corporate forces that run it today.

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 25 April 2013

I've never had much patience for the student union politics of The Greens as if you are never going to actually have power then you can promise the earth as you will never have to deliver it.

Charles Gate says 'lots of people' will have to dispense with their tribal instincts but he doesn't tell us the scale of his task...so let's take a look back at the Green's pathetic showing in the GE:

Craig Whittaker Conservative 20,397
Steph Booth Labour 13,966
Hilary Myers Liberal Democrat 13,037
John Gregory British National Party 1,823
Greg Burrows UK Independence Party 1,173
Kate Sweeny Green 858

Yep, a very distant sixth behinds right wing fringe candidates in an area where you might think the Greens might do better than that embarrassing showing.

I wonder if Charles can tell how the numerous Green cllrs on Calderdale will vote now the coalition has collapsed? Ah,,,I see his problem there.

Maybe in 2015 the Greens will come fifth as they continue their march to power.

From David Telford

Friday, 26 April 2013

Paul Clarke, surely the point of the greens is that they do represent the left of the political spectrum. If it wasn't for Gordon Brown's rather unique achievement of spending his way out of a boom and into disaster, the last Blair government was pretty much that of one nation Tory. So why do Left of centre voters still vote for Labour? It seems to me that some support their political party like a football team in that as long as the name and colours are right. To me Paul, you cannot posibly dislike the Green Party as they appear to represent your view more than Labour so why the animosity?

Thatcher blew party politics out the water, Blair used it to his favour. What is needed is a credible left, right now, there is not that option.