Anorak News | Owen Jones: Tony Blair was a national catastrophe that still poisons us

Owen Jones: Tony Blair was a national catastrophe that still poisons us

by | 10th, April 2013

Blair followed masochism strategy

OWEN Jones is turning into a troll. Writing in the Independent, he looks at Margaret Thatcher’s legacy:

In the coming days, some on the right will attempt to snuff out criticism of her legacy… Those who grew up in the Britain that Thatcher built will be patronised: you were still learning how to walk at the height of her power. And that is why it is crucial to separate Thatcherism from the woman who spearheaded it.

Eh? What about the Labour Party, who waged at least one of its wars on a lie? The Labour Party that gave us an undemocratically elected Prime Minister? The Labour Party that caused the current recession? The illiberal Labour Party that sought to control our eating, drinking, smoking and thinking?

Jones just presses on:

We are in the midst of the third great economic collapse since the Second World War: all three have taken place since Thatcherism launched its great crusade. This current crisis has roots in the Thatcherite free market experiment, which wiped out much of the country’s industrial base in favour of a deregulated financial sector.

Jones writes in the Indy, the paper now owned by Alexander Lebedev, a Russian businessman.  The Indy was launched in 1986, around the time Rupert Murdoch was ridding his titles of union influence. Did the Indy benefit from Murdoch’s Wapping fight?


Five million people now languish on social housing waiting lists, while billions of pounds of housing benefit line the pockets of private landlords charging rip-off rents. The scarcity of housing turns communities against each other, as immigrants or anyone deemed less deserving are scapegoated. But the guilt really lies with the Thatcherite policy of right-to-buy and failure to replace the stock that was sold off.

And Labour under Blair and Brown built more homes to make up the shortfall?

Champions of Thatcherism hail the crippling of the trade unions, which were battered by anti-union laws, mass unemployment, and crushing defeats of strikes, not least after the rout of the iconic miners. This has not only left workers at the mercy of their bosses, but has made them poorer, too.

Miners are iconic? Is Thatcher iconic. Is anything well known not iconic?

We could go on. Britain was one of the most equal Western European countries before the Thatcherite project began, and is now one of the most unequal. 

Britain was poorer. Anyone who wanted to break out of the inert shackles of union-controlled industry was taxed until they shrivelled. The Government owned failing business. It owned most of the universities. James Pethokoukis notes:

Just compare the real per-person GDP performance of the UK economy versus the French economy. One nation in 1979 started to again embrace markets, the other did not. Brits went from being 10% poorer than Frenchmen to being 10% richer.

Although Anne Perkins writes:

While seeking to limit the scope of government, she introduced a style of command and control, top-down, centralised authority that has proved hard for her successors to resist. It has leaked into the way political parties are managed, so that they struggle to regenerate a spirit of local activism. Institutions of civil society from the churches to the trade unions have suffered from the decline of collective enterprise in the public esteem.

Jones adds without irony:

The challenge ahead is the same as it was yesterday: to tear down the whole edifice of Thatcherism, heal Britain of the damage done, and build a country run in the interests of working people. It’s a fight we must all fight. The champagne is on ice until we win it.

A few reactions to Jones’ views that “Thatcherism was a national catastrophe“:


It speaks volumes about Owen’s credibility as a pundit that he airbrushes out the 1976 IMF bailout from his list of “economic collapse since the Second World War”. I would like him to answer the charge that Union funding slants much of his output.

Bob Grundy:

OJ displays monumental ignorance of the facts of industry. “Thatcherism” wiped out our industrial base? In the early ’50’s UK had 40% of world shipbuilding market. By early ’70’s that was down to 6%. BL in the ’70’s sold half the cars it had in the ’60’s. All before anyone heard of MT. It escapes OJ’s notice that post-1980 recessions have been world-wide, not just UK. To blame her for the world’s problems is just plain stupid.

ANyone, as it says,. Owen Jones writes in the Independent, the paper which began life with the motto “It is, are you”.

Posted: 10th, April 2013 | In: Politicians Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink