Tag Archives: Western Europe

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.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4aPart 4bPart 5, Part 6