Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

How Christianity shaped Margaret Thatcher’s conservative politics

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan

This is from the Daily Signal, and is really recommended for Christians who are tempted by the policies of the left.

Check it:

Few people are aware that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the foremost politicians of the 20th century, was a lay Methodist preacher before she entered politics.

There has been very little examination into the role that her Christian faith played in her politics.

“Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul,” Thatcher once declared, revealing that the way she conceived her free-market ideology was as much about transforming values as about improving Britain’s ailing GDP.

More profoundly, there was a strong religious basis to Thatcher’s politics—one that stemmed from her strict Methodist upbringing and, more specifically, the chief influence in her life, her father, who was a greengrocer, councilor, and Wesleyan lay preacher.

In sourcing the origins of her free-market ideology, it is not in the pages of Frederick von Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” or Milton Friedman’s monetarist theory where we find the answer, but in the sermon notes of her father, Alf Roberts.

Contained within his sermons, one finds the theological basis of what would later become the cornerstones of Thatcherism: an individualistic interpretation of the Bible, a nod to the spiritual dangers of avarice, praise of the Protestant work ethic, virtues of thrift and self-reliance, and finally, a divine justification for individual liberty and the free market.

In short, Thatcherism always owed more to Methodism than to Monetarism.

Thatcher herself was a preacher before she formally entered politics while a student at Oxford University. Even though she later transferred this missionary energy from the pulpit to the podium, her religious values remained an underlying core.

Indeed, on becoming leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, Thatcher (much like Ronald Reagan) saw it as her chief mission to completely undermine the moral credibility of socialism and communism and reconnect the broken link between Protestant and capitalist values in Britain.

Preaching from the pulpit on several occasions, Thatcher unashamedly asserted the Biblical case for the sovereignty of individual liberty and the “invisible hand.”

“Do not be tempted to identify virtue with collectivism,” she preached from the pulpit of St. Lawrence Jewry Church in London in 1978. “I wonder whether the State services would have done as much for the man who fell among the thieves as the Good Samaritan did for him.” According to Thatcher, “[i]t was to individuals that the Ten Commandments were addressed.” She continued, “We are called on to repent our own sins, not each others’.”

“What mattered,” in her words, “was Man’s relationship to God.”

Thatcher’s interpretation was that as Christianity was a call to men individually, so it should follow that political choices reside with the citizen rather than the state.

“The Road to Serfdom” and “Free to Choose” are two of my favorite economics books, and very suitable for laymen. If an understanding of the free enterprise system isn’t yet part of your Christian worldview, it might be a good idea to get studying! After all, Christians are not concerned with policies that make us feel good regarding the poor. We are concerned with policies that actually do good for the poor. There is a big difference.

How Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, saved Britain

Here’s an article from the UK Daily Mail with some more details about her.

Margaret Thatcher stood almost alone in driving through the tough policies now credited with saving the economy, secret papers reveal.

The Tory Premier had to take on her predecessor Harold Macmillan, Bank of England governor Gordon Richardson and even her own Chancellor Geoffrey Howe to push through the policies which pulled Britain back from the brink of economic chaos.

Documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show the pressure Mrs Thatcher faced from the Establishment behind the scenes – and the extent to which she was isolated.

In 1980, the year after becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher embarked on a controversial programme to revive the moribund economy through deep public spending cuts and strict control of the money supply, intended to stamp out inflation.

He warned that while her programme of cuts might give a ‘sense of exhilaration’ to her supporters, the country was heading for industrial collapse and ‘dangerous’ levels of unemployment.

Macmillan, then 86, sent the letter following a meeting with the Prime Minister at Chequers in August 1980.

He criticised her for abandoning ‘consensus politics’ to pursue radical reforms and ‘divisive politics’, which he said went against the ‘essence of Tory democracy’.

It was Macmillan who coined the phrase ‘you’ve never had it so good’ in 1957 during the long post-war economic boom.

His brand of consensus politics is now credited with contributing to the economic malaise that brought Britain to its knees in the late 1970s.

Years later, in her memoirs, Mrs Thatcher poured scorn on consensus politics, writing: ‘What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?.’

[…]In 1981, 365 economists wrote to The Times urging Mrs Thatcher to change course and limit the damage caused by the recession.

But she was unmoved, and her tough stance succeeded in reducing inflation from 27 per cent to four per cent in four years, putting Britain on the road to recovery.

Mrs Thatcher’s economic views were heavily influenced by the right-wing Cabinet minister Sir Keith Joseph, with whom she set up the free market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974.

Both drew on the work of the influential American economist Milton Friedman whose monetary theories challenged the post-war consensus on economic thinking.

I recommend reading the whole article for some more articles where Lady Thatcher had to stand against everyone and hold onto her convictions in the teeth of the majority.

Here’s an article from Forbes magazine that summarizes her effort to turn Britain around.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to appreciate today how desperate Britain’s condition was before Thatcher took office.  Its economy was a laughing stock, the perennial sick man of Europe.  Strikes were endemic and union bosses effectively governed the country.  Her Conservative Party had long ago made its peace with the welfare state and the ethos of high spending and high taxes. While the previous Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, wanted to revive Britain, he hadn’t a clue how to do it. In a make-or-break showdown with the coal miner’s union, Heath called a special election under the banner “Who Governs Britain?”  Heath lost and unions’ dominance in Britain seemed secure.

Great leaders have an astute sense of taking advantage of circumstances. Even though Heath had lost two elections, none of the senior party officials would challenge him.  At the time, Thatcher was not regarded as one of the party’s major figures.  But she was the only Tory who firmly believed in free markets and in Britain’s ability to become again a proud nation based on the principles of liberty. She was a devotee of Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman and of the idea of paring back big government and giving free enterprise room to flourish. Astonishingly she beat Heath in a leadership fight in 1975 and led the Tories to victory in 1979.

Immediately she began slashing income tax rates and reining in galloping spending and fighting inflation.  She also exhibited that critical sense of timing. When she took office, she was faced with a potential strike of nurses whose union was demanding huge pay increases. Thatcher compromised in a way that some thought she didn’t have the backbone to turn Britain around.  Instead she was exhibiting a great politician’s sense of knowing when to pick a fight.  Thatcher eventually pushed through major labor union reforms and made it clear she would not tolerate any union riots or violence.  Shortly after Thatcher won reelection, the coal miners union, which had destroyed Heath, decided to take her on. But unlike Heath Thatcher was fully prepared.  The big showdown ensued and Thatcher beat the coal miner’s union resoundingly. It never recovered from that defeat.

Thatcher knew the deadweight on the economy of excessive taxation. She cut the top income tax rate from 98% to 40%. She cut the corporate income tax rate from 52% to 35%.

One of Thatcher’s greatest innovations was the systematic selling off of the government’s business assets, dubbed privatization.  After World War II Britain nationalized enormous swaths of the economy which actions subsequent Conservative governments left largely untouched.  Thatcher sold government companies off and her example has been followed by countless nations around the world.

In the area of privatizations, she did two remarkable things. She sold off much of Britain’s public housing.  An enormous number of Britons, far more than in the U.S., lived in these government-owned buildings. Thatcher pushed the sale of these apartments to occupants at low prices and on very advantageous terms. The purpose was to begin to shift the mentality of people and their dependence on government. Her other smart move was in the privatization of government-owned companies:  offering a significant number of shares to workers at very low prices.  Union leaders hated privatization but their opposition was undermined as their members realized that they could do very well buying cheap shares in these newly-privatized entities.  Here again she was changing peoples’ thinking:  pro-big government workers now saw themselves as share owners, taking on more of a capitalist mentality.

Before Thatcher, many social observers thought that Britain had an ingrained, unchangeable, anti-commercial culture that would forever stand in the way of the country becoming an economic success. Yet within a decade of her taking office, Britain had the most vibrant, large economy in Europe, one even more dynamic, innovative than that of Germany’s.  London became a magnet for entrepreneurs from France, Sweden and elsewhere.

One unchangeable characteristic of a great leader is courage and that means taking career-breaking risks.  Thatcher demonstrated her mettle in the Falkland Islands crisis.  When the Argentinean military dictatorship seized Britain’s Falkland Islands, most military experts felt the Sceptred Isle simply did not possess the military means to take them back. Defying almost the entire political establishment which was haunted by both Britain’s current weakness and the memory of the Suez Canal debacle in 1956, Thatcher declared that the seizure would not stand and that Britain would go to war to take the Islands back. Thankfully she received critical help from the U.S. thanks to in large part the unrelenting efforts of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who years later became Publisher and Chairman of Forbes). To the surprise of experts, Britain’s military expedition succeeded. The Argentinean military dictatorship fell and democracy was restored in that country.  For Britain the Falklands war was a huge boost to a demoralized nation. To the world it meant that once again tyranny would be resisted.

I recommend reading that whole article. It’s hard not to smile at a woman who clearly loved her country and worked to save it from poverty.

Why good men love Maggie

And now I must offend everyone. See, I have a theory about women. I think that women generally tend to be more beholden to the opinions and fashions of the crowd than men are. It’s not absolute, but it’s maybe two-thirds to one-third, in my experience. I think that it is generally hard for them to hold to their convictions in the face of peer pressure. That’s why so few young, unmarried women are conservative after graduating from college. As soon as they reach college, they are swayed towards liberal views by their need to feel good about themselves and their need to be liked by others. Their views at home were not rooted in real knowledge, they were just fitting in with their families and churches and saying whatever words they were expected to say. And then they go off to college and learn other words to say from another community that uses praise and blame to replace their former convictions with new convictions.

But Maggie Thatcher wasn’t like that. And here’s why:

John Ranelagh writes of Margaret Thatcher’s remark at a Conservative Party  policy meeting in the late 1970’s, “Another colleague had also prepared a paper arguing that the middle way was the pragmatic path for the Conservative party to take .. Before he had finished speaking to his paper, the new Party Leader [Margaret Thatcher] reached into her briefcase and took out a book.  It was Friedrich von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty.  Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see.  ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table.”  (John Ranelagh, Thatcher’s People:  An Insider’s Account of the Politics, the Power, and the Personalities.  London:  Harper Collins, 1991.)

Policies like unilateral disarmament, wealth redistribution and redefining marriage sound good to many women – especially in college, and especially when only one side is presented and the other side is demonized. The only way to resist ideas that feel good and ideas that get you peer-approval is to have formed your own views through independent study. Lady Thatcher’s economic policies were formed through a study of real economists like Nobel-prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek and Nobel-prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. The reason why she was able to hold to her principles is because she knew what she was talking about, and her opponents did not. She didn’t care about feeling good. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her. She knew was right, and that was enough to sustain her in trying times. She had the knowledge, and her opponents couldn’t change her core convictions by trying to shame her. It didn’t work.

Margaret Thatcher explains conservatism in the House of Commons

These are from Luanne, she’s been posting Margaret Thatcher clips all week on Facebook.

Margaret Thatcher on socialism:

Margaret Thatcher on public works:

Margaret Thatcher on wealth inequalities:

If you are not already my friend on Facebook, then please friend me. Facebook is the place where you can get to know me more as a person. You can also follow me on Twitter.

MUST-READ: Correcting the economic myths that liberals/leftists believe

Here’s a nice New York Post. (H/T Mary)

Full text:

According to Barack Obama, “The arguments of liberals are more often grounded in reason and fact.” But according to Margaret Thatcher, “The facts of life are conservative.” Who’s right?

Myth: The deficit was caused by Bush’s tax cuts.

Fact: For over four decades, 1960 through 2000, federal revenues averaged 18.2% of Gross Domestic Product and the trend was virtually flat. The final Bush tax rates became effective in 2003. In 2006 and 2007, well after the new tax rates were in effect, federal revenues were 18.2% and 18.5% of GDP, above historical levels. The federal government collected over half a trillion dollars more in 2007 than it did in 2000.

Myth: Republicans spent like drunken sailors.

Fact: Federal spending from 1960 through 2000 averaged 20.3% of GDP, with a slightly upward trend. The average over all Bush years, 2001 through 2008, was 19.6% of GDP – below the historical average. The 2001-2008 average deficit was also below the 1960-2000 average.

Myth: Republicans exploded the federal debt.

Fact: Per the US Constitution, “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” Democrats controlled the House from 1955 through 1994, leaving the federal debt held by the public at 49.2% of GDP. Republicans then controlled the House from 1995 through 2006 and left it at 36.5% of GDP — below the level left by Democrat Congresses.

At the end of Bush’s presidency the debt was 40.2% of GDP. Now, two years post-Bush and four years of a Democrat Congress, the debt is 64% of GDP, the highest it’s been since Harry Truman was paying off World War II.

Myth: The deficit is due to the Iraq War.

Fact: The Congressional Budget Office calculated that the Iraq War cost $709 billion from 2003 through 2010. Total federal deficits over those eight years added up to $4.944 trillion, with the bulk of that ($2.968 trillion) added in just the last two years, after Bush was out of office.

By contrast, federal spending on education over 2003-2010 was $792 billion, and Obama’s stimulus will cost $814 billion. How often do you hear that our deficit problem was caused by education spending?

Myth: The Reagan and Bush tax cuts only benefited the rich.

Fact: According to the CBO, “The lowest three income quintiles have seen declines in their average tax rates since the early 1980s .¤.¤. The average tax rate on the top quintile has fluctuated more, with periods of increases and decreases, and was somewhat lower in 2007 than in 1979.”

In fact, the top quintile (top 20% of taxpayers) paid about 25% of its income in federal taxes in 2007, about the same as it did in 1982. By contrast, the middle and bottom quintiles paid less than 15% and 5%, respectively, both lower than at any time since 1979. The bottom two quintiles had negative average income taxes – they received more in tax credits than they paid in income taxes. Per the CBO, “In 2007, about 35 percent of households did not owe any federal income taxes.”

Myth: The deficit is due to military spending.

Fact: If federal military spending had been eliminated in its entirety in 2009, the deficit would still have been $776 billion, a historical high. Defense spending is less than one fifth of the federal budget and less than 5% of GDP. When the economy was doing quite well in the 1960s, defense spending was twice as high in those terms. In fact, President Bush presided over smaller defense budgets (as a fraction of GDP) than all presidents from 1941 through 1993.

Myth: “The last eight years,” “the last ten years,” “the last decade,” “the lost decade.”

Fact: From 2000 through 2007 real GDP grew 2.4% annually and real disposable personal income grew 2.8% annually. The economy added 5.5 million net new jobs in those years. The unemployment rate stood at 4.4% in May 2007, just before the newly elected, Democrat-controlled Congress raised the minimum wage.

From August 2003 through December 2007, over eight million net new jobs were created.

Fiscal year 2007 was the last one under a federal budget written by a Republican-controlled Congress, and marked the peak in real GDP, jobs, and the stock market. The bad economy of the “last ten years” was all in the last three years – under federal budgets written by a Democrat-controlled Congress.

Myth: Bush deregulated banks, causing the financial crisis. Fact: President Bush did not deregulate banks, or much of anything else. He increased staffing and spending on economic regulation more than President Clinton did. The number of pages in the Federal Register averaged more in Bush’s first term than at any prior time in US history. He signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the most sweeping regulation of business since the New Deal.

The New York Times, no cheerleader for President Bush, said in 2003, “The Bush administration is rightly pushing for the Treasury Department to regulate the two giants [Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae], along with the network of federal home loan banks.” It was Barney Frank and other Democrats who helped kill such regulation. Frank said, “These two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.”

Not a Myth: The above facts are matters of historical record. The sources of many myths are computer models rather than results from the real world. Remember the economic model that said the unemployment rate would not go above 8% if Obama’s stimulus was passed? The stimulus was passed, yet the unemployment rate went above 10% and has been above 9% for the last 19 months.

The models that say extending today’s tax rates would add to the deficit assume that tax rates have no effect on taxpayer behavior. That is an assumption virtually all economists, and most non-economists, know is false. Yet Congress requires the CBO to base its predictions on that bogus assumption.

The reality is that government spending is the problem. It is absurdly above historical levels right now and is unsustainable. It is driven by payments for individuals (64% of 2010 federal outlays) and entitlements, especially health care spending. ObamaCare did not bend the health-care cost curve down, either; it bent it up.

We have to go with Margaret Thatcher on this one.

What a great find by Mary!

Let’s re-post a Margaret Thatcher video and bask in her glorious competence and intelligence.

[youtub=http://www.youtube.com/v/okHGCz6xxiw]

She had a background in the hard sciences, like Angela Merkel, another conservative.

I think if Christian women want to impress men, they should talk like  the Iron Lady. Liberalism / leftism is really just selfishness, envy and blaming others for your own choices. What man wants to marry someone like that?

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan discuss capitalism, socialism and liberty

Some wonderful videos from the old days when giants walked the earth.

Maggie’s plan:

The results of Maggie’s plan:

Ronald Reagan’s vision:

Ronald Reagan on socialized medicine:

Where is the new Reagan and the new Thatcher?