The Reign Of Margaret: Reax

Apr 8 2013 @ 10:38am

This video of Thatcher defending income inequality is making the rounds:

Drezner assesses the Iron Lady’s legacy:

Thatcher’s role in advancing the spread of free-market ideas to other policymakers was crucial. To explain why free-market capitalism became the pre-eminent idea in economic policymaking over the past few decades, you have to look at Thatcher. She preceded Reagan, becoming the first leader in the developed world to try to change her country’s variety of capitalism. Even after Reagan came to power, one could persuasively argue that Thatcher mattered more. As some international political economy scholars have noted, ideas and policies spread much faster when “supporter states” embrace them vigorously rather than reluctantly. Thatcher embraced capitalism with a near-religious fervor, acting as a vanguard for the rest of Europe on this front.

James Pethokoukis applauds her economic reforms:

Just compare the real per-person GDP performance of the UK economy versus the French economy. One nation in 1979 started to again embrace markets, the other did not. Brits went from being 10% poorer than Frenchmen to being 10% richer.

Damian Thompson of The Telegraph calls Thatcher the “the greatest politician of her generation”:

As her aide Ferdinand Mount once said of her – and he was by no means blind to her faults – she made Britons believe that things were possible: that we could revive ourselves through a sheer act of will and by blocking our ears to the enemies of progress. The intensity of the hatred she inspired was, paradoxically, a tribute to her. No one who changes the way a country works, to put it bluntly, can do so without implementing policies that hurt people. She knew that, and regretted it, for she was a kind lady. But Britain is enormously in her debt.

Anne Perkins of The Guardian, on the other hand, criticizes Thatcher’s policies:

While seeking to limit the scope of government, she introduced a style of command and control, top-down, centralised authority that has proved hard for her successors to resist. It has leaked into the way political parties are managed, so that they struggle to regenerate a spirit of local activism. Institutions of civil society from the churches to the trade unions have suffered from the decline of collective enterprise in the public esteem.

Weigel mulls the Thatcher and Reagan comparisons:

When Ronald Reagan died, American politics and memory had already sanctified him; many people flying into Washington for the funeral arrived at Ronald Reagan International Airport. The debate over Thatcher’s legacy of privatization looks, from the American perspective, to be pretty well over and won. But we’ve never had a national health service and we broke the power of our unions 60-odd years ago, and only briefly did we have as high a top tax rate as the U.K. in 1979, so the comparison’s never going to make sense here. At some point today I expect there’ll be a statement from a former Alaska governor about how much Thatcher meant, but we can probably ignore that.

On the same topic, Tomasky makes a smart point:

[T]he Tories haven’t gone mad and made Thatcher look like a milquetoast moderate. In this sense her legacy has been more durable than Reagan’s. She re-centered British politics to a place where it’s more or less stayed, while today’s American right has completely left Reagan in the dust.

The Spectator rounded-up some choice Thatcher quotes here.