Thatcher did not rule in a vacuum

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The Rev Dr Cameron (Letters, 9 April) makes an excellent point: Scotland should have welcomed Margaret Thatcher’s policies as they embodied the Presbyterian ethic.

We should remember that she did not do this alone; around her was a Cabinet full of big political beasts, all of whom shaped the policies and delivery of what we now call Thatcherism.

She was fortunate in that her enemies, such as General Galtieri and Arthur Scargill, were as pompous as some Gilbert and Sullivan characters and her ability to win three elections was assisted by having, in Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, two of the worst ­Labour Party leaders fortunately never elected.

The reality was that she came to power at a time when the country was in deep trouble, with the International Monetary Fund on standby.

Our manufacturing industry, embodied by the Austin Allegro, was out of date and uncompetitive, our deep coal mines could not compete on price with open-cast, and the heavy, steel-based industries of central Scotland were burdened with high production costs compared with the new economies.

During most of her premiership I was a member of the Church of Scotland Church and Nation Committee and used to sit and listen to the out-of-touch and unrealistic witterings of the well-meaning fathers and professional trade union brethren as they each year prepared reports for the General Assembly along lines which would have made Scotland slightly more socialist than communist North Korea.

The problem of that era was not Thatcherism but the ostrich tendency of Scottish leadership. The once great country of the Enlightenment had not kept up with the rest of the world.

Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet were not the problem; the problem for the Scots is that the person who holds our ­future is the one that looks at you from a mirror.

Wha’s like us? Very few, but too many are better.

Bruce D Skivington

Gairloch, Wester Ross

It’s time for Britain to stop kidding itself about Mrs Thatcher’s legacy, or how we are all “Thatcher’s children”. Greed and self-centredness began in the 1970s as the world recession sparked by the oil crisis kicked in.

All she did was exacerbate it by making swingeing cuts and privatising everything possible for short-term profit before frittering the resulting windfall on a nuclear missile system everyone said we neither needed nor could afford.

The only ones who profited from Thatcher were the snake-oil salesmen of business and finance, and it was left to her successors (John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron) to clean up the mess.

That none of them ever bothered trying encapsulates the new political climate she ushered in: the “me” generation of self-seeking, professional mandarins.

Mark Boyle

Johnstone

In response to M Smythe (Letters, 9 April), the banking collapse does not overturn the case for low business taxation and deregulation of banking since both the boom and bust were the result of the state intervening in the currency by means of a central bank, in this case the Bank of England.

Such interventionism keeps interest rates artificially low and leads to a reckless expansion of credit. The late Mrs Thatcher was guilty of such intervention in the form of entering the exchange rate mechanism and by interest rates being under the control of her chancellors. Alex Salmond would do very well to avoid repeating these mistakes.

Bruce Crichton

Falkirk

I recall the Thatcher years vividly and demonstrated against the woman and her policies as much as anyone.

Yet this week there are other things I remember. The Hillman Imp car factory in Linwood is one. The Imp was based on a radical new design and had an aluminium engine at the rear. It was expected to capture huge sections of the world market and bring jobs and prosperity to Scotland.

It did not, and the main reason was that the plant very quickly fell into the hands of a group of militant, Trotskyist shop stewards who believed the more strikes they could cause the more likely it would be they would precipitate revolution.

In its last years the Imp was leaky and chronically unreliable and few were purchasing it. This sort of situation was common around Britain.

Alan Clayton

Letters Way

Strachur, Argyll

I remember meeting an ­elderly lady, well into her seventies, who confided in me that, without her family’s knowledge, she had taken on a cleaning job, simply to pay her poll tax.

Mrs Thatcher will never be forgotten for that cruel tax, for closing down industries and wrecking mining communities, nor for the arrogance she displayed towards Scotland and her antipathy ­towards Europe.

She disgusted Scots voters, destroyed the chance of any possible future for her own party in Scotland, and brought discord and despair to ordinary people.

I had not expected the blanket television coverage of her death, the newsreaders in black clothes, and the way in which many in the Conservative Party – which, after all, sacked her – as well as her ­political opponents, did a whitewash job on her strident personality and beliefs.

I see no need for parliament to be recalled, or for a ceremonial funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral. It should never be forgotten that she sent young soldiers to their deaths in the Falkland Islands. And more than 30 years after that conflict, the question remains: why exactly was the Belgrano sunk with the loss of 323 lives?

Ruth Marr

Stirling

Now that she’s gone it is interesting to note that Mrs Thatcher, even in her worst Scottish result (1987), had the support of a slightly higher portion of the electorate (24 per cent) than Alex Salmond achieved at the last Scottish election (23.5 per cent). How he must be praying for a low turn-out next year.

(Dr) A McCormick

Terregles, Dumfries

Margaret Thatcher was never my favourite politician, yet I do admire her for her grit, determination and her amazing ability to achieve her goals. And damn the consequences.

While I shed no tears on her death I do not rejoice. I find it utterly nauseating that some folk actually celebrate her demise. Hatred and resentment have poisoned their souls. Such people delight in portraying themselves as victims. The result is, in a very perverse way, a truly wonderful victory for the worst aspects of “Thatcherism”.

Victims must cease to feel sorry for themselves and reassert their dignity as fully developed human beings. Only then will they be able to grasp the realities of a changed world and decide to actually do something about it; not just whine and bleat like dumb animals.

Scotland’s verdict on the Thatcher legacy was surely the result of the general election of 1 May, 1997, when the Conservatives in Scotland were annihilated. Actions speak louder than words.

The results of subsequent elections have hardly dented that verdict.

Robert M Dunn

Edinburgh

Fifteen pages on Margaret Thatcher – what a waste of trees.

Rosemary Shaw

Edinburgh