Simon ‘Fatty’ Heffer has just posted this piece at the Torygraph.

Very few Slog readers, I’d imagine, would understand why it made me so irate. It is a question of the fundamental nastiness, vulgarity and mean-minded chest-poking of most Thatcherites I’ve met over the years.

Anyway, this was my response to it in the Discus comment columns – which remain the most technologically illogical threads on the Web:

 

Considering Mr Heffer’s usually high standards, this is a tragically unthinking piece.

Harold Macmillan fought with exemplary bravery during the First World War, during which period he gained a respect for the working man with aspirations to do better. In the Second War, he helped Butler frame an Education Act that produced more social mobility for such ordinary folk (like me) in these islands than anything attempted in the previous 1000 years. The idea that he was a Socialist is laughable: he was the only true One Nation Tory PM we have ever had.

Socialists later betrayed the Butler Act with their forced-equality ideas on education, as a result of which we have the dumbed and conformist Thatcher’s children of 2010. Educationally, they are indeed Thatcher’s Stepford children, because MetalWoman did nothing to restore standards in our schools – indeed, she diluted them further by granting Uni status to the CATS.

Mrs Thatcher performed several great services for this country, but her crimes were threefold and empirically undeniable. (1) She did nothing to reduce the power and numbers of Sir Humphreys. (Too busy watching Yes Minister, perhaps). (2) She eroded the concept of community. (3) She handed the economy to bankers, and left her schorched-earth revenge on working people as a problem for future generations to handle.

To call Macmillan a charlatan suggests that Simon Heffer’s view of him is based largely on Private Eye. Most of us would give a limb to have the growth, infrastructural investment, safe society and stability over which he presided. Maybe he did preside over decline, but it was not of his making.

I met Mrs T recently, and she is – I am genuinely sad to say – not entirely of this planet. I met SuperMac when he was 85, and he remained a lucid, ironic and engaging man. ‘Sad’ he was not.

Margaret Thatcher isn’t even in his league: his legacy is infinitely more benign than hers.

Shame on you, Simon Heffer.

10 thoughts on “

  1. On virtually every point I have to disagree with you John. Mrs Thatcher’s greatest achievements were the re-establishment of good economic management in this country and putting our businesses on a sound footing. From that all other benefits flow. She also removed the stigma of Britain being the sick man of Europe.
    She faced down the threat of the Marxist Trade Unionists which no one had done in the 20th Century, and also with Ronald Reagan faced down the Soviet Empire leaving it to crumble before our very eyes. Thus she contributed to the freedom of millions from oppression at work, from having to live in proxy war zones brought about by the soviet empire fighting anywhere in the world to push its position. These alone mark her out as one of the greats. Yes she ought have done more with education. But that had to take second place to the other items. It is her successors who have sealed the fate of British Children in the failing education system, that fails now at every level from primary to university. Let’s hope that Mr Cameron can fix it.
    Should she have done all of Herculean tasks that you wnated to her to do at once (ie within the 10/12 years she had)? Perhaps. But I doubt that it would have been possible.
    And by the way, it ill suits you to make personal remarks about Mr Heffer. They only detract from anything sensible you may have to say. Stay away from insults. But keep the thoughts flowing. The debate is good.

    • To allow education to take second place to anything was her greatest error. But otherwise TF, I think we are agreeing violently.
      I stick with her failures because the stats support me: but like you, I sided with her against the Russian threat – and lost most of my radical chique friends as a result.

      But ultimately, she was a bigot – and HM wasn’t.

      I apologise for calling Heffer fat, but he is 12 years younger than me and looks 30 years older; he is a Tory fuddy-duddy, and one tiny insult does not come close to equalling the disgraceful insults he loaded upon a thoroughly good Prime Minister….unfashionable as that view might be these days.

  2. I don’t see Heffer calling Mac a socialist in his article. That would be an insult of great magnitude.
    One important thing I do recall about Thatcher is that she often promised to “roll back the State” but insofar as personal freedom was concerned, she did nothing of the sort. Hence, the civil service grew in power and strength in her time.

    Whatever…Heffer does indirectly confirm my own long held view that the Tories have moved inch-by-inch to the Left over the decades in order to stand a chance of being elected, because the socialist Labour Party repeatedly offer “more for free”, or at least at someone else’s expense…and that’s always a vote winner.

    I particularly agree with the accuracy of this comment by ‘realityreturns’ to Heffer’s article:

    “The problems facing Britain today are the same evils of socialism as ever have plagued the latterday UK.”

  3. Tiny bit fed up with ‘Discus’ on the Telegraph. I rather suspect the ‘recommend’ button has been hit more than the paltry 11 times indicated just now. This is my hit anyway.

    Agree with much of what you say, particularly the caricatures which pass for sober commentary these days (Eye et.al.). However, my own cynical reading of the last 50-odd years in this country is of managed decline and a general leftward drift toward a matriarchal, comfy, nanny-knows-best, the-state-is-responsible-for-everything and ultimately WEAK society.

    HM came across as a good chap (long suffering too, given his wife’s appalling behaviour), but he shares in the responsibility for this decline. He may be forgiven this as I suspect that he wanted future generations never to experience what he did in two world wars.

    *************************************

    Anyway, may 2011 bring you joy!

    ATB, Caratacus

  4. John Ward,
    As ever a great post [and by the way thanks for your Adrian Mole recommendation of some months ago, I bought the whole series- which was new to me - and have enjoyed many a chuckle, however sadly I am now half way through the final volume 'The Prostrate Years' - I do hope there will be more to come but have heard that Sue Townsend is not in the best of health.]
    Further to your post, the question of educational policy appears to be a constant conflict within our society.
    I was lucky enough to go to a grammar school during the 1950’s [Grove Park Grammar, Wrexham -the school team won 'Top Of The Form' with Martin Thomas - now Lord Thomas of Gresford -as team captain].
    It appeared to me, even at that time, that those who did not pass the scholarship exam (the great majority), were sent onto a Secondary Modern School that was less than interested in developing the maximum potential of its pupils. Later in life, as I met friends who had not succeeded in getting into Grammar School but by their own efforts had made good in the business and academic world, I certainly began to have significant doubts about the 11+ selection system [most of us are, to some extent, captives of the 'accepted' norms of any given period in our history].
    The Comprehensive System was supposed to correct the inequalities [social division and concerns of individual developmental criteria] of the previous system.

    Comprehensive Education with common entrance for all, with an easy flow between ability streams. Thus all pupils would end up in a ‘Set’ that reflected their ability and each set could thus be taught to their maximum potential, without the social division that the Grammar School/Secondary Modern School appeared to favour.
    The Comprehensive System does not appear to have produced the results hoped for. Why not? I do not have the answer.

    • @Wrexhamian: “The Comprehensive System does not appear to have produced the results hoped for.”
      ——————————
      Given that socialists despise competition and success (because it produces winners & losers), despise any sort of privilege (except for themselves), and are committed to levelling down society to the lowest common denominator in the name of progress and fairness, to achieve equality and expand their dependent client state, I would say that comprehensive education has been a great success for the many socialist true believers we have in Britain.

      That it ignores some people are more capable than others and has therefore been a disaster for Britain’s economy and society by producing countless poorly educated morons living on the backs of others, is an unfortunate consequence to be denied or blamed onto others. To them, it simply means more taxpayers’ money is needed and exam targets/results need to be manipulated to give the impression of progress.

      • johj hj nn c

        Wrex and BT

        For me, the best thing any teacher can do is take a secondary modern sort of kid and bring out the Paul Whitehouse. (The film Kes applies)

  5. I watched a Tresury ‘advisor’ (crone) on CNBC a couple of months ago mention investing in education was a key to jobs in the eocnomy. Like most Gov’t advisors they are 99% of the time wrong living their lives at the wrong end of the stick on every subject.

    There is zero link between good education and good jobs, in fact quite the reverse. The West is now rammed with over-educated students not only on the doll but with huge loans (US students owe 1 Trillion Dolllars).

    The solution to edeucation is neither McMillan, Thatcher or Blair pumping Billions mored into education. Th solution is for the State to get the fuk out of it (and everything else).

    I want to see parents educate their own kids and if they can afford it pay for private education. What’s missing in education is a Ryanair type operator that can provide a years schooling not for 9k or 19k but 190 bucks.

    What’s needed is an end to State and national everything, including thinking, and the beginning of consumerism (individualism). Everything else is a lie.

  6. Thatcher did indeed have many faults but tackling the trade unions was the greatest need at that time.

    I recall(about 1976-77?) there being floated the idea that the trade unions have a permanently reserved cadre of seats in Parliament because they represented so many people.

    Had that come to pass, democracy, such as it is, in this country would have been finished.

    Yes the cure caused huge problems, not least the predominance of “financial services” otherwise known as spivvery, but this can be cured. Indeed as you suggest the coming difficulties will probably cure it-however the current government do not have the guts to do so without that catalyst.

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