Maggie Thatcher

Gone, but not forgotern

On Monday 8th April 2013, former British PM Maggie Thatcher passed away at the age of 87.

There has been much in the news regarding the 'Iron Lady', as she was nicknamed, but I thought I would give my views being that during her reign I left school & got my first job.

A lot has been said about Maggie's destruction of British industry & the crushing of the Unions, but at the end of the day it was the Unions themselves who were destroying British industry with their constant strikes for higher pay and shorter working weeks. My first job was in construction & within 2 hours of arriving on site I had a Union application form handed to me with the threat of 'join, or you will never get a job in building'. The fees worked-out at 10% of my wages. The job only lasted 12 weeks and I cancelled the Union membership the day I left site. And when I next worked in the construction industry, there were no issues with needing to be a Union member thanks to Maggie.

She did have a massive inability to think things through sometimes though. In 1980, she was informed that intelligence suggested the Argentinians were planning an invasion of the Falkland Islands. She dismissed the idea as unthinkable & then withdrew the Royal Naval presence from the area as a cost-cutting measure. By 1981, the Argies had invaded and taken the Falklands by force. In taking it back, we lost countless good men.

Another policy gone bad was the decision in 1984 to allow the right to buy for Council House tenants. The draw back to the scheme was that the Councils could not spend any of the money made from the sale of housing. A lot of people took-up the right to buy & as predicted at the time, as the Council Housing stock reduced, the private rented stock increased, along with rents and house prices in general. As a lot of renters were on low incomes, the Councils ended-up paying a great deal of money in Housing Benefits to subsidise the rents. This in turn pushed-up inflation, which in turn saw the Bank of England increase the interest rate to an eye-watering 15%.

Such high interest rates meant that those who bought their Council Houses at a nice discount found they could no longer afford the mortgage & so found their homes being repossessed. The glut of repossessed houses on the market brought about a collapse in house prices that still affects the UK housing market to this very day. Many people in the 1990's found themselves stuck in houses with mortgages they struggled to pay, but they couldn't sell either as the value of the property was much lower than the outstanding mortgage.

I bought my flat in 1991 when I thought the prices had bottomed-out, but when I tried to sell 6 years later, I found my flat was worth 25% less than I had paid for it & about £3,000 less than the outstanding mortgage. In fact, it took until 2001 before the value had increased beyond the purchase price.

Selling-off gas, water, electricity & telecoms was also a bad move. The big idea was to open up the market & make it more competitive. In reality a good number of the privatised utility providers are now in the hands of foreign Governments who push the prices up in the UK to subsidise their own Country's residents. The end result is that a large number of people in the UK are now in fuel poverty.

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