Thursday 18 April 2013

Has the smoke cleared yet?

Well, the earth-to-earth, ashes-to-ashes dust-to-dust, so to speak, will finally begin to settle on a period in our history that has divided a nation. A time that was known as the Thatcherite Period. Thatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state, and free markets through tight control of the money supply, privatisation and constraints on workers employment rights.

Take privatisation....

When Thatcher became leader of the Tories, the conservatives were already committed to some policy of de-nationalisation. This was in response to a prolonged political crisis of the 1970s. A period in time in which the Tories had struggled to maintain their parliamentary dominance. The Ridley Report in 1974 was a report on the nationalised industries in the UK. It was devised for Thatcher as a policy of breaking up the public sector.

The country at the time was cash rich, it had large privatised industries that belonged to everyone. The general effect of privatisation was to keep prices down - provide a public service and privatisation kept control of key industries within the country.

It was sweet and simple plan that hoodwinked a nation. Break up the nationalised industries by selling back to the public the public services that they already owned. The mantra was that privatisation would make the large utilities more efficient and productive, The focus had shifted to privatising core utilities. In this period, the government sold off Jaguar, British Telecom, British Aerospace, Britoil and British Gas. They used the miners strike as the smoke and mirrors to fool the public. The coal mines were not profitable other than for distracting the nation as their pockets were picked clean. The miners strike was engineered just for that purpose.

Take the sell off of British Gas.

It was a policy intended to re-engineer the electorate along the lines of the "popular capitalism" vaunted by Thatcher, showcased in the infamous "Tell Sid" campaign during the sell off of British Gas. If you can remember 1986, you’ll recall the advertising campaign that encouraged people to buy shares in British Gas. ‘If you see Sid, tell him’ ran the slogan, and around 1.5 million did at a cost of 135p a pop, in a £9 billion share offer, the largest ever at the time. 

The minimum allocation of 100 shares, costing £135, would be worth some £1,720 today. That would be around twelve times the original value. Or the 9 billion that British Gas was sold for would be worth £108,000,000,000 pounds. Generating for the shareholders a tidy profit of £100,000,000,000 up to today.

Remember those 100 shares, up in value from £135 to £1,720? If you also add in 27 years of dividends then it’s more like £2,200 or 14 times their original value!

But privatisation did not stop there.

The aggressive privatisation programme continued with. British Steel, British Petroleum, Rolls Royce, British Airways, Not only that, but water and electricity were among the major utilities put up for for sale. Then it was the turn of the railways and public transport. Michael Heseltine's attempt to privatise the Post Office was however abandoned at the time.

It was not until the credit crunch and the ensuing crisis, that the rush for privatisation stopped, if only temporarily, when the government was forced to belatedly nationalise a string of failing banks. 

Now, with the return of the Tories and the Con-a-Lib coalition its the turn of the NHS, Prisons and Schools. Having already announced the sell-off of Northern Rock, with other nationalised banks to follow The government have indicated that Royal Mail will be sold off, along with probation services, roads, large sectors of education and the NHS. Even sections of the police, will be privatised. Outsourcing will be extended into every possible area.

So next time you look at your water bill, gas bill, electricity bill, or you fill up your car with fuel. next time you purchase a ticket for the train or buy a ticket for the bus. Remember: Margaret Thatcher picked your pockets clean then and her pick-pocket legacy lives on today. A cash rich nation with assets that were second to none. Sold off for a song to the already rich and wealthy. 

What was it that Thatchers predecessor the Earl of Stockton said "You've never had it so good" However, he also accused Thatcher of selling the family silver. And she did - thirteen pieces of silver! Now, the public have to payout another £10,000,000 for her funeral.... come on stump up - you lucky people.


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