It will come as no surprise to those who know me that Margaret Thatcher was reviled by me and many who grew up in the North. What may seem slightly more bizarre is that, despite doing financially well as individuals, many of us still hold a grudge almost thirty years on; and wonder why.
It was in 1985 that I had to leave Barnsley because there were no jobs. The feeling of hopelessness that engulfed the area that I lived in then, and to a greater or lesser degree still now, has stayed with me ever since. Ironically, in sixth form debates at school, I used to err on the Conservative side as I love economics and the creation of value and naturally the free market enterprise appealed. I think this is where I separate out the capitalism from the Marxism in that capitalism CAN BE a great power for good but, like most things, a power is only good when it’s wielded fairly and sensibly. What we saw in the miners’ strike was a ‘blind’ free trade capitalist doctrine being wielded destructively by the state apparatus against a whole region of the country and using the law with impunity to try and stop people earning a living.
Clearly, this made a significant change in my life and many of the people’s lives around me. Thirty years on it is still having that effect on our lives with a combination of a feeling of hopelessness and high unemployment in areas which were once proud and productive parts of the country. The grotesque “loadsamoney” economy that superseded it ultimately led to the credit crash in 2008 and the realignment of capitalism that we’re now going through is something we’ll be undergoing for many years to come.
This is why I believe, with all my heart, that a blend of capitalism coupled with the Marxist principles of redistribution of created surplus value (in its many forms) is the only true way forward. In a similar way that Stalin is vilified on the left wing of extremism, Thatcher should be vilified on the right wing. Somewhere in between the extremes, there is an ideal balance of using the positives in both without the destructive, soul destroying and divisive elements of either dogma. But for now, back to the day job!