Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher on the European Community Relations 1987 – 1990

 On the European Community Relations 1987 – 1990
Thatcher was beginning to see the harmful features of the European community in her second term. Thatcher feared the re-emergence of the Franco-German axis, inclinations towards bureaucratic solutions, and the EU’s ambition for power, a protectionist agenda and covert federalism. The German reunification made the Franco-German axis more lopsided: German dominance was certain. State interventionism in the Christian Democratic government disturbed Thatcher. She feared the corporatism of the EU. Thatcher was blamed for Brussels failures.

Jacque Chirac Chatting with SarkozyM. Chirac called Thatcher a ‘bitch’. Chirac had made the Gaullists a right-of-centre party committed to free enterprise. Chirac and Mitterrand were torn in France. Neither wanted to risk the agricultural vote as they vyied for the Presidency of France. The French election campaign put the rivalry in full swing. Thatcher noted that neither could be seen in the same room together. Mitterrand won the election and the disputes were over (1988); the EU could continue to function somewhat. They agreed on a 1.3% GNP for Community resources. Thatcher wanted effective and legally binding controls on expenditure, measures to reduce agricultural surpluses in which automatic price cuts were the principle weapon and make sure that Britain’s rebate, which had saved Britain 3 billion pounds in the past three years would be secure.

Thatcher was extremely sceptical about giving Brussels control over the British currency. The EMU (economic and monetary union), Central Bank and other centralizing tendencies in the EU were unsavoury to Thatcher. Then Thatcher gave her Bruges Speech. Thatcher’s speech clearly slowed the process of integration. She felt that Jacque Delor stopped being a functionary (bureaucrat) and became a political spokesman for federalism.

JacqueDelorsThe blurring of these roles is common on the continent. Scepticism was high in Thatcher mind. She had to ask if the British democracy, parliamentary sovereignty, common law, our traditional sense of fairness, our ability to run our own affairs in our own way might be subordinated to the demands of a remote European bureaucracy, resting on very different traditions? Thatcher despised the European ideal. Thatcher found it ironic that despite the suffering of the Eastern European countries, West Germany etc insisted on centralization. Thatcher rejected the idea of a “European super-state exercising a new dominance for Brussels. Willing and active cooperation between independent sovereign states is the best way to build a successful European community. Thatcher warned of the EU replacing NATO. Thatcher believed in a family of nations not one homogenising nation. Thatcher highlights the negatives of EU members such as Germany, France and Greece (with its financial scandal).

Thatcher "No,No,No"Thatcher claimed the French Revolution was not as revolutionary at the 1688 Revolution of England. Thatcher was set to attend the 200-year anniversary of the violent, horrible revolution, which led to Napoleonic rule and further suffering in Europe. Thatcher genuinely claimed that the French Revolution was nothing to celebrate really. Human rights were not developed by the French, she told a French newspaper. She also handed Mitterrand a copy of the A Tale of Two Cities because it explained her point most clearly.

French revolutionThatcher explains the Franco-German axis as a rising serpent destined to destroy England. Thatcher emphasizes that political union is now envisaged alongside monetary union. Behind political union lies with the Franco-German axis. They envisage a stronger European Council with more majority voting: but they did not want to see the powers of the Commission or the European Parliament increased. The French were federalist on grounds of tactics rather than conviction. The Germans wanted political union for different reasons and by different means. For the Germans, the price of quick reunification with East Germany on their own terms and with all the benefits which would come through Community membership (Germany would not behave like Hitler’s or Bismarck’s Old Germany). Germans were federalists by conviction while the French were senior partners: Germany was dominant. Thatcher is opposed to political union of either kind. Political union in a European Parliament must not mean the reduction of the role of NATO. Thatcher rejected Delors view of a federal Europe in which the European Parliament would be the Community’s House of Representatives, the Commission its Executive, and the Council of Ministers its Senate. “No, no, no,’ said Thatcher in the House of Commons.

Margaret Thatcher on the General Election of 1983

On the 1983 General Election: The party platform in Canada is different from Party Manifestos in Britain: policy is explicitly outlined in the manifesto. The Labour Party process of policy development is ineffective and bungled. Thatcher created policy groups that involved the whole party in development and also allowed for fresh ideas. The three most important pledges in the election where 1) to accelerate privatization, which was fundamental to their economic approach selling British Telecom, British Airways… 2) trade union reform building on the Trade Union Democracy Green Paper, Thatcher promised legislation to require ballots for the election of trade union governing bodies, 3) adjust local government decentralized to local constituencies. Elections take place on Thursdays. Planning the actual date is important for timing vacation of the public. Election planning brings into question matters of the head of government’s responsibilities abroad. Thatcher cancelled plans with Reagan. The Scottish Conservative Party was still on her agenda for a visit.

During the campaign, the Conservatives successfully convinced voters of their trustworthiness with the economy, defence and security policy. Thatcher enjoys verbal combat. Thatcher focused on marginal seats. Thatcher counts the days according to D-Day distance hence D-21 or 21 days till Election Day. Thatcher joked that the Labour Party would try to nationalize socks if they could. The sinking of the ARA Belgrano appeared as attack point for Labour. The Belgrano had to be sunk according to Thatcher: she made it explicit that it was a threat to the task force. Labour was divided from within over unilateral disarmament. Jim Callaghan was against that policy. Michael Foot had trouble controlling his Labour Party backbenchers. Reagan wanted Thatcher to win. Thatcher met with Reagan during the election period to flesh out further relation’s a) unity over NATO, b) Cruise Missile development…the subsequent proposal was attacked by Pierre Trudeau for not ‘talking softly to the soviets’. A punk rocker stated that it was better to have the Iron Lady than those cardboard men. Thatcher gained a majority of 144 seats. It was a success; the largest of any party since 1945. The Left could never again credibly claim popular support for their programme of massive nationalization, hugely increased public spending, greater trade union power and unilateral nuclear disarmament. Socialism was built into the institutions of Britain. It would be difficult to overcome. But Thatcher felt it had to be.

Margaret Thatcher on Economic Recovery

On Economic Recovery
Economic growth was noticeable by mid-1982. There was marked success against inflation during this period. Thatcher does not believe that the level of unemployment was related to the extent of trade union powers. The unions had priced many of their members out of jobs by demanding excessive wages for insufficient output, so making British goods uncompetitive. Thatcher does not like the way trade union leaders lie to their members and manipulate information about her government. Thatcher was pushing to reduce their influence by legislating open ballots for industrial striking for example. It is much easier to prepare for an election in government because you have access to all information and statistical data that would help shape the appropriate policies.

Margaret Thatcher on the Polish Crisis & Disarming the Left

On the Polish Crisis
Britain’s defence effort was contingent on NATO credibility, strength and unity. American public opinion had to remain committed to Western Europe but not to the extent that the US could pursue its interests regardless of the opinion of their European allies. General Jaruzelski’s Government imposed martial law on Poland in December of 1981 to crackdown the “Solidarity” movement. Reagan imposed economic sanctions on Poland unilaterally. Britain was in the process of building a pipeline in Poland under the limited trade between the UK and the USSR when Reagan pushed to close all trade thus harming 1000s of UK workers as well as other allies while not causing any harm to American investment. Reagan wanted to cause the USSR to suffer from an economic crisis within its borders. The US called for a full ban on oil and gas technology; Thatcher was appalled, angered, and ensured that the pipeline was allow to continue.

On Disarming the Left
The middle way between conservative and leftist cannot produce radical new ideas according to Thatcher. SDP (fore-runner of the Liberal Democrats) would have done better to stay in Labour in order to allow for political influence. Michael Foot was smart but his policies such as unilateral disarmament are catastrophic. Unilateralism became Labour Party policy in 1982 but public support for the deterrent was substantially in Thatcher’s favour. There are streaks of anti-Americanism. Control over the Trident missiles was a major point of contention but Thatcher didn’t have to pay for it. The UK had limited physical control over US weapons on UK territory. This position was satisfactory for the UK defence issue. The Falklands factor although not intentional has provided Thatcher with an advantage. Her opposition was a point of criticism. By-elections appear to allow protest votes against the government and are not to be used to judge the successes of a government during a general election.

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Margaret Thatcher on the Generals, Commissars & Mandarins

On the Generals, Commissars & Mandarins
Thatcher disagrees with the view that peace is more certain with the slowing of progress on defensive technology. History has repeatedly demonstrated that deterrents are better means to that end. The atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for example. Aggressors do not start wars because their adversary has built up his own strength they start wars because they believe they can gain more by going to war than by remaining at peace. This is the fundamental defence analysis that Thatcher espouses. Regarding NATO, it is essential that the USSR fails in their attempt to drive a wedge between the US and its European partners (Britain most importantly). NATO must be united against the USSR in order to be effective against possible invasion from the East. NATO was no military threat for the USSR only a philosophical threat of freedom and justice. The Soviets were pressing to gain military advantage. Effective internationalism must be built on only strong nations. Global citizenry weakens the will of individuals to fight for their country. Agrees ion must always be firmly resisted.

On the Trident Purchase
Britain needed to retain its deterrent against USSR. The American Trident missiles served this purpose. The Trident deal did not allow Thatcher to turn the key (no duel key). She justifies this by stating that the cost of owning the missiles was too high and that the US would be best prepared in the event of nuclear attack to coordinate retaliation. Thatcher used her relationship with Reagan to secure a reasonable and equal deal for the Trident II missiles necessary for UK defence.