Baroness Thatcher: Royal pain or uncommon leader?
Recently, a biographer working on the legacy of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, let slip that Her Majesty did not like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a person nor did the Queen like the former Prime Minister’s domestic policies or “Thatcherism.”
It should, however, be pointed out that the Queen is the doyen of the world’s richest and most visible dysfunction family. The marital foibles of her children and her former daughters-in-law, both living and deceased, have not brought credit to the House of Windsor. Obviously, great wealth, privilege and access to the finest education do not insure good parenting.
Indeed, the movement to do away with the institution of the monarchy in Britain is now stronger than ever. Anti-royalty sentiment is so great that the Queen has consented to pay taxes on a small portion of her income. No British monarch has ever felt compelled to do that before.
Because both Thatcherism and Reaganomics rarely get a fair shake in the liberal media of either country, let’s examine them both.
In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher moved into Number 10 Downing Street, the top tax rate on wages and salaries was 83 percent. The tax rate on investment income was 98 percent. Government controls were in place on prices, income, investment and foreign exchange.
After six weeks in office, she had the top tax rates down to 40 percent. She forced union leadership to ask the permission of the rank and file before launching economy-crippling strikes. Previous governments had socialized virtually all of Britain’s means of production. Within 18 months, they were returned to private-sector ownership.
The British economy, which was even worse than the U.S. economy under Ford and Carter, boomed. Britain went from the bastard child at the economic family reunion to being, once again, Great Britain Why this irked the Queen remains a mystery. Perhaps, female rivalry?
Even good men such as Presidents Ford and Carter, could not overcome an economy ravaged by President Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to finance the Vietnam War on the sly. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States by a landslide 489 to 49 margin in the Electoral College.
President Reagan inherited a 12 percent inflation rate, a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, interest rates as high as 21.5 percent, a dollar so weak no one wanted to invest in America, a stock market at 777 and overall “stagflation.”
When Ronald Reagan left the Oval Office, inflation and unemployment were down to two percent, interest rates dropped to six percent, the dollar was booming against foreign currencies and the stock market was at 3,000. Household incomes for Blacks rose from a minus 4.4 percent to a plus 11 percent.
In President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher had an economic and foreign policy soul mate. Both nations rose to their highest post-World War II economic positions and, working together, the Reagan-Thatcher team engineered the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Recently, this is what Lady Thatcher had to say about the foreign policy skills of President Reagan. “… it always fascinated me that people thought that Ronnie Reagan was not a detail man. If ever he was negotiating or going on a significant visit, he would have everything at his fingertips. He was the most thorough person in preparation I ever knew. And of course those he met with were almost always impressed. He knew all the answers, and would have a whole range of questions himself. President Reagan could dominate any meeting with two people. He’s a very, very great man, and we’re very fortunate that we had him when we did, because I think if it hadn’t been for him, we would not have begun to get the cracking up of the Soviet Union.”
Of the great figures of the previous century, Reagan and Thatcher will rank toward the top. The Queen? Well, she got her job the old-fashioned way.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and, with his wife, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn. (www.thegrandconspiracy.com)
©2001. William Hamilton.