Category Archives: Thatcher, Margaret

Mother-in-law of the nation

It is often argued that Thatcherism played a rôle in

the terrible deterioration in the character of the British people,

but Dalrymple reminds us that

the deterioration was evident many years before Margaret Thatcher’s advent to power — which changed nothing.

Thatcher was

an epiphænomenon in the life of the British people. She spoke much, but achieved little.

Advertisements

A service economy without the service

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

Whenever Dalrymple is in Amsterdam, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever he is in London, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign.

This is just as well, writes Dalrymple,

for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run an hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter

if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such since Margaret Thatcher solved Britain’s chronic industrial relations problem by the expedient of getting rid of industry. This worked, and perhaps was inevitable, but it was necessary for Britain to find some other way of making its way in the world. This it has not done.

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

incapacity is everywhere.

Incompetence starts at the top. The prime minister, David Cameron, is

a careerist and opportunist in the mould of Tony Blair. Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to profligate government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, guides him.

Cameron has been

truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is without substance.

Twin corruptors of the NHS

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 19.27.49Discussing the spectacular rise in the cost of the UK healthcare system, Dalrymple writes:

First Margaret Thatcher (inadvertently) then Tony Blair (deliberately) corrupted our civil service—Thatcher by allowing the bureaucrats to pretend that they were businessmen, with perquisites to match; Blair by expanding this class of persons enormously, creating a powerful political lobby.

The British system

is now capable of absorbing infinite amounts of money with minimal benefit to the health of the population, though with great benefit to the pocketbooks of those who work in it.

Legalised corruption in Britain

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.00.49The highly motivated idiocy of bureaucrats

The professionalisation of management in the public service, writes Dalrymple,

was one of Mrs Thatcher’s great legacies.

Tony Blair

took political advantage. The road was open to the creation of public-service millionaires.

Opportunities have been

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.03.56

Margaret Thatcher

systematically created for the economic benefit of ambitious mediocrities.

Margaret Thatcher’s belief was that

the motivation of a manager in the public service can beneficially be made the same as that of one in a private business.

James Burnham

James Burnham

But

even in large privately owned businesses, the interests of the managers have long since ceased to be identical to those of shareholders, a fact of which Mrs Thatcher appeared to be oblivious, and which helped to bring about the banking crisis.

Thatcher

was no match for the dimmest manager of Boghampton Social Services, once that manager was freed from the straitjacket of a salary structure and could pretend to be a businessman or woman, complete with strategic — never tactical — planning and business models, the development of which necessitated teambuilding weekends in country hotels and awaydays in pleasing locations.

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.06.17Before management became professionalised, managers in the public service

had no vested interest, as they do now, in inefficiency and incompetence, in the insolubility of all problems and in the creation of new ones.

What is needed, says Dalrymple,

is amateur, not professional, management. No more awaydays, no more teambuilding, no more strategic planning, no more business models. Let bureaucrats be bureaucrats — in proper circumstances, a perfectly honourable if not high calling — not ersatz businessmen.

 

Impenetrable drivel unworthy of the faculty of speech

The linguistic effluent that has engulfed Western society and economy

The linguistic effluent that is engulfing Western society and economy

Managerialese is the revenge of the unscrupulous and mediocre on the talented and principled

People who become managers in public service organisations and in large commercial firms, writes Dalrymple,

speak a kind of language that is neither colloquial nor technical nor philosophical nor literary nor precise nor poetic nor even quite human.

He asks whether their utterances correspond to what is going through their mind, or whether they have to translate their thoughts

into this simulacrum of language.

The bullshit piles up so fast you need wings to stay above it

The bullshit has piled up so fast you need wings to stay above it

No man of education and feeling can bear the tedium of it. A virus has entered the brain to

disarrange its language centres, rather as a stroke does.

Scourge of the talking robots

The source of the malady might, he suggests, lie with industrial concerns

and perhaps the business schools that trained their managers, as primates in the forests of Central Africa were the source of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Infection often escapes its original nidus to infect the surrounding population of the susceptible, in this case managers in and of the public service made susceptible by Margaret Thatcher’s ill-fated notion that the public service could be some kind of replica of private business.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.26.35Verbigeration

Dalrymple points out that the argot is both a symptom and a sustainer of a social revolution. Those who consult its claims are

ruthless and ambitious, mediocre in everything except in the scale of their determination to rule some tiny roost or other, and be paid accordingly. The quid pro quo is that they must learn a new language, whose mastery is far from easy: I am sure that if my readers will try to speak for only a few minutes in managerialese they will find it almost impossible, for meaning will keep breaking through their best attempts at meaninglessness.

Thatcher’s effect on the size of the state was nil

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 00.24.31Dalrymple points out that ‘despite her reputation as a prudent or even savage cutter of public services’, Margaret Thatcher failed to roll back the state, ‘as it was her intention and vocation to do’. In 1979 the public sector’s proportion of Gross Domestic Product was 44.6 per cent; in 2009, 47.7 per cent.

She did nothing to reduce dependence on the state as a source of primary income.

On the contrary, during her period in office, spending on social security increased….it was ethically, socially, and politically impossible to drive down the income of the unemployed to the value of their labor to employers….Government spending having declined as a proportion of GDP, social security increased proportionately even more. Mrs Thatcher did not, because she could not, effect any fundamental change in the model of the welfare state. That model, in democracies at least, has a one-way ratchet.

Thatcher handled the miners with determination and skill

Arthur Scargill: tried to use Thatcherite laws to buy a London council flat

Arthur Scargill: tried to use Thatcherite laws to buy a London council flat

Dalrymple writes that after Margaret Thatcher defeated the National Union of Mineworkers,

no other union would lightly take her government on. And so far, at least, British unions have not recovered their extraconstitutional role as the fourth, and seemingly most powerful, branch of government.

Thatcher’s empty rhetoric

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 07.57.42The economist Peter Bauer told Dalrymple he thought Thatcher had talked much but done little. Dalrymple writes:

She had even set her cause back because her strident language had convinced people that she had carried out her radical programme, thus arousing the undying hatred of her intellectual opponents as if she had done so, while in fact she changed very little, at least as regards the fundamentals. She thus gave the ideas for which she stood a bad name without their ever having been put into practice.

Thatcher was head and shoulders above the other political figures of her time

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 00.02.54And personally likeable.

Dalrymple writes that

to blame a figure for not having done the impossible [i.e. put a stop to the decline and ruin of England] is not to damage her reputation in the slightest. There is (thank goodness) a limit to what one person can do in [debased] countries such as the United Kingdom.

The Cameron blancmange easily moulds itself to any shape going

Thatcher's successor-but-one, Blair, with the cunning of the born swindler, seized his chance and created a loyal, corrupt, self-seeking nomenklatura that remains extremely influential and easily able to outwit the blancmange-like  Cameron, who moulds himself to any shape going

‘Thatcher’s successor-but-one, Blair, with the cunning of the born swindler, seized his chance and created a loyal, corrupt, self-seeking nomenklatura that remains extremely influential and easily able to outwit the blancmange-like Cameron, who moulds himself to any shape going’