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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Best Prime Minister we never had, worst one we did

After "13 years of Tory misrule" in 1964 Britain finally elected a Labour government under Harold Wilson. People didn't like or trust him, but he was a brilliant man and an exceptional politician.

One of his greatest assets was Barbara Castle, a red-headed firebrand who said what she meant and meant what she said.

You can imagine how men took it when this petite non-driver, as Minster for Transport, introduced the breathalyser test. Obviously it was their right to drink, drive and kill the innocent. Then as Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, she introduced the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) which, in a ministerial broadcast on TV - I can still see and hear her - she introduced thus: "We're going to do away with poverty in old age".

I was barely a teen, but I was impressed (see how I remember her words to this day) and she seemed to me to be someone who would make an excellent PM.

But women were not considered for party leadership till more than a decade later, when we were unfortunate enough to acquire Margaret Thatcher in that role, then as PM.

We're still suffering from what she did to our society. Well, actually, she said there was no such thing as society. Greed was good, every man for himself. Sounds a lot like the philoshophy of today's bankers, doesn't it?

She sold off every asset and resource we owned to her pals in the private sector, just as the current bunch intend with their NHS bill. She sold off the railways, Cameron wants to sell off the roads. She decided to break the unions and the miners, and she did, so now workers have relatively few rights and almost no one to help them protect those they still have. She sold our gas, water and electricity companies (I think she would have sold off the air if she could have found a way) and she even sold our North Sea gas and oil reserves. We might be as rich as the Arab states otherwise.

One person can really make a difference. Thatcher did so for the bad; Castle might have changed things for the good. She's long gone. We'll never know.


JoJo said...

Castle sounds amazing and lightyears ahead of her time. Pity she couldn't have been the PM. I didn't know much about Margaret Thatcher, but for the stuff the British punks were singing about, even though that music started prior to Thatcher's reign. It sounded like a pretty miserable time for the people there.

judith said...

That was a good and interesting piece Val...

vikeau said...

Thanks for the historical prespective of how we ended up where we are today. Its amazing the parralles between what was going on in Britain and the US during 80's. You had Thatcher and we had Reagan.

Sandy said...

This was interesting to me as well...from someone who actually lives there to share with us in her aqccount of how things are and were...Maybe also a little of feeling a little better hearing the Americans aren't the only ones who have something to complain about!!! Well, it's not a perfect world, is it??

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