South of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) delivers her verdict on Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister who died on Monday, April 8 at the age of 87.
“Now while she was undoubtedly a formidable politician, not least succeeding in a men’s world she should be measured by her legacy in Scotland. And what was that?
“The vast revenues of North Sea oil were not used to set up an oil fund as they have in Norway but was spent paying dole money for the millions she made unemployed shutting down much of our manufacturing. Money that could have been invested in modernising our indigenous Scottish industries, including textiles.
“She sold off from public ownership BP and BT. BP is now foreign owned. She encouraged everyone to become a shareholder. TSB – the Trustees Savings Bank- owned by those who saved with it was sold off. Savers were replaced with shareholders. Banks became profit making businesses. So, banking and the financial sector took the place of manufacturing and speculation was rewarded, “Champagne Charlies celebrated on London’s streets thus sowing the seeds for the bankrupting of our finances by a reckless, poorly regulated banking sector and stock exchange.
“She brought in the Right to Buy which without re-investing in a building programme decimated the public rented sector leading to today’s housing crisis where young people either have to rent for private tenancies or stay at the hostel of mum and dad, sometimes well into their late twenties and thirties. This even delays many couples having a family until well into their thirties. Additionally, by promoting home ownership as a symbol of success, and by having very little socially rented housing available, this led to the provision of outrages mortgages often beyond the means borrowers which fuelled inflationary house prices and finally heart-breaking repossessions. This in turn contributed to the financial sector collapse.
“She set galloping police against the miners, trampling over working men and so today the trade unions are constrained and regulated, bankers, are not and despite Lloyds TSB and RBS being almost wholly publicly owned and not being in profit, still top bankers take home top bonuses.
“She went to war over the Falklands with the death of some 1000 and the infamous sinking of the Belgrano which was sailing away from the Exclusion Zone.
“And let’s not forget the infamous and unjust poll tax which set neighbour against neighbour. This at least brought her reign to an end though it is now reshaped as the equally iniquitous bedroom tax.
“Overall her ethos was one of self not society. Her success in being re-elected (though not through Scottish votes) led the way to the creation of New Labour in an effort to make it electable in the Home Counties, to the rise of Tony Blair, political son of Thatcher and to the collapse of the conservative vote in Scotland. Today it has but one MP, David Mundell. Ironically her opposition to Devolution failed and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament has delivered 15 Conservative MSPs through a proportional electoral system. Here endeth the legacy.”