A British Libertarian on Margaret Thatcher, Iraq, and More (2015), Interview with Sean Gabb

Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance, discusses what he calls the myth of Margaret Thatcher, plus much more. Subscribe to the Tom Woods Show: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/t…

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  1. The historical writing produced by Dr Woods is a Curate’s egg – good in parts.

    His historical account of such things as the American Civil War (where Dr Woods accepts the old Confederate apologist line that the war was not “really” about slavery – or the desire of the South to EXPAND slavery into the West) and the First World War is actually very bad – leaving out matters of vital importance, and falsely presenting the views of some others (for example it is not true that Niall Ferguson believes a “lion’s share of the blame” for the First World War belongs to Britain – Ferguson thinks, I believe mistakenly, that Britain could have stayed out of the war by ignoring German efforts to take over Europe, that is not the same thing as holding that Britain was to blame for the First World War, i.e. for the unprovoked aggression of Imperial Germany against France which the tissue of lies that was the German Declaration of War upon France in 1914, only makes more obvious).

    As for Mrs Thatcher – Sean Gabb and myself lived through the same events.

    I respect the view of Dr Gabb that the principles of the Common Law declined under Mrs Thatcher – although the decline started many decades before. Although I think he overstates the decline under Mrs Thatcher.

    It is also true that government spending and taxation actually ROSE after 1979 and nothing much was done to free the labour market in the early years (when the hopeless James Prior was Employment Secretary).

    The period from 1979 to 1982 was actually a disaster – a massive INCREASE in the size and scope of government, partly because the incoming government just accepted the outgoing Labour’s government “public sector” wage settlements (the product of the “Winter of Discontent”). The result was mass unemployment – as the economy was sent in to decline yet (due to the government legislation enforced rigidity of the labour market) there was no decline of wages.

    After that there was indeed some freeing of the labour market – and some restraint in government spending leading to reductions in taxation (especially on productive investment – the industrial economy of 1979 had actually been starved of investment, because of the weight of taxation, for DECADES – Mrs Thatcher got the blame for a collapse of industry that was actually a House of Cards by 1979) and recovery of the economy (and a welcome reduction in unemployment). These were the Nigel Lawson years.

    There was also some denationalisation (of which I take a more positive view than Dr Gabb does) – by 1990 the state owned little of the economy (although government spending, taxation and regulations were still crushing).

    However, Nigel Lawson was then seduced by the dark side – expanding the money supply to try and maintain a “fixed exchange rate” with the German currency, even though Mr Lawson had himself denounced a policy of fixed exchange rates in his previous writings (the pressures of office seem to have made him forget what he had once known – this is sadly often the case). This led to the terrible boom-bust of the final years – although this boom-bust was mild compared to what is coming…..

    There was also the so called “de regulation” of the Single European Act and the “Big Bang” of financial services in London and so on.

    In reality both the Single European Act (the so called “single market”) and the “Big Bang” represented the eventual massive INCREASE in regulation.

    Mrs Thatcher lived to bitterly regret the Single European Act (about which virtually every official had systematically lied to her), and as for the “Big Bang” – i.e. the government take over of financial services regulations (striking down the old voluntary clubs and companies that had been in control – in the name of striking down “restrictive practices”) Norman T. told me that this was “the worst mistake we ever made” leading to an endless web of government regulations that do NOT (as the old voluntary customs and practices did – at least to some extent) safeguard the interests of investors.

    Anyone who observes closely the state of the City of London today should admit that he had a point.

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