First, I should say that Gillian Anderson nailed Margaret Thatcher’s voice and mannerisms in season 4 of the Crown, but she had to work with some pretty dreadful scripts at times. Thatcher was cast as the villain responsible for high unemployment and social dislocation in 1980s Britain, but we weren’t reminded of crisis-ridden 1970s Britain which Thatcher inherited and needed to repair. There was the 1976 IMF Crisis and the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent, among other debacles. During the latter, with council workers on strike, Leicester square in London’s West End was turned into a temporary garbage tip. The country was literally a mess, and the heavy state intervention, which Thatcher partly wound back in the 1980s, was to blame. Certainly, the Iron Lady had her flaws, but she deserved a much fairer portrayal than was given her in the Crown.
I recently spoke about Margaret Thatcher, and Adam Smith, too, with Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, and our recorded conversation is now available as Episode 64 of my Economics Explored podcast. We spoke about the lessons of Adam Smith, why Thatcher’s economic measures were necessary, why the Adam Smith Institute is unashamedly neoliberal, and finally about the deleterious consequences of wage and price controls which have been observed since Babylonian and Roman times. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
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In my Left wing youth, Margaret Thatcher was seen as a villain. I was in the UK in 1985 when the miners strike ended and there were lots of demonstrations. But, now I see that the UK coal mines were hopelessly inefficient and seriously uneconomic and Thatchers economics and policies led to a very significant increase in home ownership (worth researching) and a transition to a very successful financial services economy. The media and production shows like The Crown which I am also enjoying are for some reason dominated by the Left. Unfortunately, this sometimes leaves us short of a balanced opinion on history of even current events.
Thanks Russell. Yes, Eamonn and I actually spoke about the problems of the UK coal industry. He said it was cheaper for Britain to import coal from Australia than to dig it out of Wales. We also spoke about her home ownership policy.