Denial and Delusion of the Thatcher Years

As someone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain, it’s hard not to see the parallels between how fragmented and bleak things seem now and how it was back then. I’m not the only one. Very good piece by Guardian columnist John Harris who notes how the visible decline of Britain – or at least the sense we live in a troubled country – is accompanied by nostalgia, patriotism and brittle optimism. His concern is that we continue to be governed by the same Thatcherite thinking by a Conservative Party that maintains its dominance:

“This development might suggest grounds for optimism, were it not for a key political fact: continued Conservative dominance of England, partly based on a set of essentially cultural ideas with loud echoes of the 1970s and 80s. Back then, the brilliant writer and thinker Stuart Hall said that Thatcher authentically spoke “for those people who felt they were left behind by permissiveness, threatened by affluence, challenged by the sexual revolution, who never wanted a libertarian society, who believe in greater authority, in the family, in paternal authority”. Boris Johnson might not believe in that kind of Conservatism, but in a modified form it remains at the heart of his party, and the wider interests it speaks for. It is the credo of such activists’ favourites as Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg; it enters the national conversation on a regular basis via the Daily Mail.”

Let’s not go back to the denial and delusion of the Thatcher years