04 December 2007

Thatcher Is To Blame For Everything.

Yes, she really is.

Northern Rock - Out of control lending and spiralling debt and the inevitable boom and bust in the housing market are a result of Thatcher's financial deregulation in the 80s.

Dodgy Party Funding and DataGate - Thatcher's autocratic style and disregard for democracy 'won' elections and forced Labour to follow suit. Thatcher abolished local government and she put undemocratic Quangos in its place. We still haven't recovered from this top-down unaccountable managerial inefficiency.

England being crap at sport and our children fat and unhappy - Burgers and chips on school menus, legalitus forcing after school activities to cease and building for the car - this all reduced children's opportunity to play and all stem from the Thatcher era. Not to mention the tripling of child poverty as inequality spiralled (VAT doubled & Council Tax was introduced to hit poor, top rate income tax cut for the rich, public services trashed).

Crap Public Transport - Outside London, deregulated buses all turn up within 5 minutes of each other and there are none for an hour afterwards - Thatcher is to blame.

Muslim terrorism - Thatcher's dodgy deals with Saudi Wahabis helped prop up their dictatorship and madrassas both there and Pakistan - the spectre of Thatcher hangs over the 7/7 bombings.

Few top level English footballers - see 'crap at sport' above, but also Thatcher sucked Murdoch's cock and overode competition legislation to let him do what he wanted. The inequality in English footy is the result.

Lack of renewables - Despite the best R&D and biggest wind resources in Europe, Thatcher starved our fledgling wind power industry of funds. Denmark didn't starve theirs, now they lead the world.

Finally - insert any current problem - Thatcher is undoubtedly at the root of it. See also this post.

65 comments:

  1. Perhaps you could disseminate this sound information so the public know who to hate.

    You could pictures of Maggie up at certain places and allow special hating sessions each day. Let them last for about two minutes or so.

    At least that way people will know we are fine under Labour. Put up some posters just in case:

    "Labour is peace. Multiculturalism is strength. Conservatism is slavery"

    :-)

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  2. So what you are saying is really, that Nulab have wasted ten years, spent £4 trillion pounds of taxpayers' money and only managed to make things even worse?

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Mark, No, what I am saying is that 10 years is not enough to repair the damage that Thatcher did (it takes 7 years minimum to train doctors etc - to restore faith in services and change attitudes to crime etc takes much longer). Under Labour the biggest criticism is that progress has been so slow. Things are much better now than 1997. Things were getting worse at an accelerated pace under the Tories. If people really want to see inequality reduced - you don't go back to the party that tripled poverty, you persevere with the party that has slowed this inequality and managed to reverse some of it.

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  5. Damn, I honestly thought that you had stumbled over a sense of humour and were doing an ironic take on the idiotic "It's all Thatcher's fault" thing.

    Labour have had plenty of time and have done a great deal of damage. It's time for Gordon to open the second envelope.

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  6. Falco, Nope, no sense of humour here, it is all Thatcher's fault.

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  7. "Things are much better now than 1997"

    I am no big fan of Thatcher, but ...

    Unaffordable housing?
    Terrorist attacks?
    Ever rising crime?
    Falling standards in schools?
    NHS spending doubled with not much to show for it?
    Public sector deficits 3% or 4% of GDP at the top of the economic cycle?
    Five million people on beneifts - just like ten years ago?
    Top salaries in public sector and quoted companies racing away from reality?
    Quango spending three times higher than ten years ago?
    Doctors, whose training takes 7 years and is paid for by the taxpayer failing to get training places and going abroad?
    Totally stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Two million extra taxpayer-funded jobs?
    Training in UK so bad that we need one or two million migrant workers to keep things ticking over?

    Neil, seriously mate, were you having a laugh, or should we start doubting for your sanity?

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  8. Unaffordable housing? Stems from Thatcher selling council houses and not re-investing the money - but yes this is the big failing of this government. But they now plan to build 3 million homes.

    Terrorist attacks? Prop up Saddam, Musharif, Bin Laden and Saud and what did we expect? Predates Labour govenment and once again Thatcher the culprit.

    Ever rising crime? That is bullshit - it has fallen 40% in last decade.

    Falling standards in schools: once again bullshit? Honestly, todays school leavers knock socks off people in their 30s or older. Try a few simple maths or grammar questions to both. Really, go out there and try it.

    NHS spending doubled and for what? Better paid nurses and doctors etc (you probably don't remember doctors working 100 hours and nurses on peanuts), recruiting to NHS not a problem anymore as a result. Brand new buildings and equipment. Millions on statins for heart disease, cancer deaths plummeting, waiting lists soon gone - reduced from over 2 years. Of course we wanted more but we still spend less than France and other EU countries - of course our health service is not as good as theirs when we won't pay the taxes.

    Five million on benefits? Actually that is one million less than a decade ago.

    Top salary inflation? Yes, this has been a Labour failing. But what do you suggest when people can bugger off abroad? (and Labour needs the money until we get state funding).

    Quango spending tripled? Probably not as much a real term increase as it sounds but not good I admit. Thatcher set the wheels in motion on this.

    Doctors going abroad? Actually a sign of success. At least we train enough now. Anyway, we recruit far more from abroad - we probably getting rid of the crap ones.

    Iraq, Afghanistan? Wars in Sierra Leonne and Kosovo as well - where Blair is now a hero. Should we have left Taliban in place? And Iraq is yesterdays news now - and anyway worst is over - violence almost stopped and the oil will come in handy.

    Two million more public sector jobs? - Good, most of those are front line staff.

    Migrants? We have always needed immigrants and biggest ever wave (as percent of popn) under Tories in 50s.

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  9. The only explanation for this post is that the author is part of a black op run from Conservative Central Office, to discredit Labour.

    Neil, your cover is blown - too obvious.

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  10. Thatcher was ousted in 1990 - that is SEVENTEEN years ago.

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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  11. Northern Rock - boom and bust has been around rather longer than Thatcher. Marx commented extensively on it. If more regulation is needed then the blame lies with the numpty who spent the last ten years as chancellor.

    Dodgy party funding and datagate - whatever your problems with Thatcher, implying that she magically 'won' elections through non-democratic means is pathetic. After the socialist idiocy of Callaghan's spackers she promised to resurrect the country's economy and succeeded. Given the vast increase in quangos from Labour it's a bit rich to blame the Tories but it's nice to see you railing against centralism. It may not be the most appropriate time to shout at the Tories re funding Neil, given the endemic corruption of your chosen party and the pathetic “give us money or we have to steal it response”. Nor is bringing up “lets bung revenue and customs together, wonder who did that?” datagate putting your best foot forward.

    England being crap at sport and our children fat and unhappy - England are no more crap at sport now than when Mrs T was in power, we did pretty well in the rugby. (If you're just moaning about the football then you may as well go and play rounders).
    As for the inactivity and poor in-school diet of today’s children, the most practical solution would be truly independent schooling, (see interminable discussions re vouchers). The tripling of child poverty is nonsense, you're using that stupid relative poverty measurement aren't you? Others being richer does not make me poorer, in fact it is more likely to raise my income.

    Crap public transport - to be honest it wasn't great before and Thatcher didn't help on this one. On the other hand, Labour have been in power for a decade. I know I keep coming back to this but ffs, your incompetent lot have had time to deal with this, if they haven't you cannot lay the blame at Thatcher’s door.

    Muslim terrorism - please listen carefully - THE SHITS TO BLAME FOR THIS ARE THE TERRORISTS. Social explanations cut sod all ice with the 7/7ers and Thatcher is not to blame for their actions.

    Few top level English footballers - I will have to look into this but I think you will find any restrictions on the number of foreign players to be contrary to EU law. It is not Murdoch's fault that they are a bunch of pathetic nancy boys.

    Lack of renewables - you admit that we had great R&D, that is the best way to get these things working, not by pouring massive subsidies down the drain. Thanks to some brilliant research it won’t be long before solar becomes economically viable on a massive scale. You have to reach that tipping point or you end up spending money on immediately obsolete kit.

    Finally - did Thatcher molest you as a child? It might go some way to explaining your attitude.

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  12. "Thatcher's Blame" means setting up two possible outcomes so that whichever happens everything that goes wrong is the fault of the person you are trying to scapegoat. For example, early in Mrs T's premiership when we were still recovering from stagflation (actually caused under the previous Labour government), law and order problems were represented by the left as being due to poverty in general and the Thatcher government's supposed callous disregard for the poor in particular.

    A few years later when the economy was roaring ahead the same commentators represented law and order problems as being due to materialism and people having too much money due to the policies of the same government.

    As others have commented this post has the hallmarks of insanity.

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  13. "Falling standards in schools: once again bullshit? Honestly, todays school leavers knock socks off people in their 30s or older. Try a few simple maths or grammar questions to both. Really, go out there and try it."

    HA! Tried reading a CV from a school leaver recently? Experience and ALL independent tests suggest standards are plummeting. You and New Labour loyalists really are living in an alternative universe.

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  14. Neil, you really are an insensitive and callous idiot:

    "And Iraq is yesterdays news now - and anyway worst is over - violence almost stopped and the oil will come in handy."

    Try telling that to the families of the British and American dead as fatalities increase. Oil at $88 a barrel and rising. Nice one Labour.

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  15. Well I blame the statist crap from Wilson, Heath and Callaghan. If they hadn't blown all that money keeping crap natinalised industries afloat we would have been able to reform the economy with much less fuss.

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  16. All your favourite bands are completely wank, you support a meaningless soccer team from a part of England that noone gives a toss about and you like girlie sports, why should anyone give a shit about what you think. Maggie made the British economy what it is today. What Britain really needed was more jimbo Callaghan or dickhead Kinnock.

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  17. A brilliant example of Reductio ad Thatcherum. Do you check under your bed every night to make sure Thatcher isn't hiding there with an axe?

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  18. Thatcher was able to come to, and stay in power because of the Unions, and the militant left that controlled the Labour Party. Thus, if what you say is true, everything is actually the fault of Scargill, Foot, and the useful idiots that support his ilk, er, like you.

    Failure to 'improve' things in the last 10 years will be down to the same party and it's present useful idiots.

    Now, erm, again, that would be you, then?

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  19. I didn't realise that this was supposed to be a comedy blog!

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  20. He'll be blaming Robert Peel next!

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  21. Lots of comment! Look, 17 years is not that long ago (and it was only 10 years ago that the Tories were in power). It can take decades to change infrastructure and public services and generations to affect crime levels. It took until the late 1980s to get over the main downside of Atlee's decisions to nationalise everything in the 1940s. Until 1973 to get over the disastrous decision to snub the EEC in the 1950s. The neglect of our water & sewerage systems goes back to Victorian times.

    Thatcher did curb the unions and her privatisation programme (that started under Callaghan) did work for some industries like BT, but privatising other utilities and bus companies etc has been disastrous.

    The impact of Thatcherism was enormous - the worst thing she did was move the tax burden from rich to poor (she didn't cut tax). She doubled VAT and introduced the council tax with narrow bands to hit the poorest, she cut wages and provision in the NHS and education and spent more on defence, police salaries and unemployment. Once again hitting the poorest the hardest. This change in wealth (continued under Major) and is only now being turned around. No go areas on estates are the product of the high unemployment high crime Thatcher era, does anyone deny this?

    The problem is; by the time the real fruits of a Labour government have come to play, the Tories are back in power and get the credit. The NHS, education and other public services will benefit for decades because of how Labour has increased spending and restored staff wages and morale. You guys are all so short sighted.

    Yes, Labour could have changed the electoral system and solved all this stop-go politics so ultimately it is their fault - but the attraction of getting their turn with the train set always seems to overide Labour leaders sense when in power.

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  22. "the worst thing she did was move the tax burden from rich to poor (she didn't cut tax*). She doubled VAT and introduced the council tax with narrow bands to hit the poorest"

    Sure. So why didn't Labour do the decent thing and...
    a) Scrap (or reduce) VAT,
    b) Scrap (or reduce) Employer's national insurance (which means that workers face the highest overall tax burden), and
    c) Replace Council Tax (and Inheritance Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, BBC licence fee) with Land Value Tax? And scrap CAP payments to wealthy landowners?

    All of which have been part of my manifesto for ages!

    Because Nulab are thieving, self-serving cunts fully in the mould of the worst Tory backbenchers** of the 1990s, that's why! And the sooner you see that the better!

    * To be fair, under Thatcher tax rates were reduced significantly, which must be a good thing.

    *BTW, this excludes relatively decent Tory frontbenchers like Major, Hurd, Clarke, Howard.

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  23. Operation Trident - Ignoring Bernie Grant's advice in 1985, after the murderous Broadwater Farm riot which he supported, to increase black repatriation.

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  24. Mark, Labour have been electoral cowards over tax. The electoral system favours the wealthier voter. But tax credits, minimum wage, better paid public sector jobs have all helped the poorest to the tune of £100bn or more. You may say this has been wasted on improving salaries and benefits but it has made a big difference to those at the bottom and boasted morale and recruitment in the public sector. The sad thing is, the lack of competition under this electoral system means those who may rightly want to punish Labour for being too right wing will end up with an even more right wing Tory government. That is no choice at all.

    Those of you to the right of the political spectrum want to increase the already vast inequality we have (and the Tories set wealth inequality into the stratosphere from what was the most equal base in history). Labour cannot turn that around in ten years without policies that are really radical and the present electoral system will not allow it.

    You right-wingers will always be in a minority (only 10% earn 34k plus), and so most voters will vote to reduce inequality. The Tories have never done that (and despite their new cuddly image will be just as bad again).

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  25. "Unaffordable housing? Stems from Thatcher selling council houses and not re-investing the money - but yes this is the big failing of this government. But they now plan to build 3 million homes."

    So Thatcher is to blame for increasing supply and Labour will solve the problem by increasing supply?


    "Terrorist attacks? Prop up Saddam, Musharif, Bin Laden and Saud and what did we expect? Predates Labour govenment and once again Thatcher the culprit."

    Do you mean General Pervez Musharraf? The man who took power in Pakistan in 1999? Thatcher propped him up while Blair was Prime Minister?


    "You right-wingers will always be in a minority (only 10% earn 34k plus), and so most voters will vote to reduce inequality."

    I thought the left-wing line was that they are altruistic and right-wingers are selfish. You're saying the left is just as selfish as the right?

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  26. "The problem is; by the time the real fruits of a Labour government have come to play, the Tories are back in power and get the credit."

    Ha ha ha ha!! You are a card. The last Labour administration to lose power left us with the legacy of the winter of discontent. Those are the fruits of Labour governance and I'm quite sure the Tories have no wish to claim them.

    As for: "You right-wingers will always be in a minority (only 10% earn 34k plus)" are you being deliberately insulting or just retarded? You don't have to be rich to be on the right. All that is required is a basic understanding of economics and a dislike for authoritarian theiving bastards.

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  27. 'Falling standards in schools: once again bullshit? Honestly, todays school leavers knock socks off people in their 30s or older. Try a few simple maths or grammar questions to both. Really, go out there and try it.'

    My wife is a comprehensive teacher - you should see the standard of the school leavers - they can neither read nor count - and these are the ones that turn up. No money for books - it all goes on 'initiatives'.
    You must be living in la la land or you're having a laugh.

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  28. I remember the standard of CVs in the 80s and 90s. There has been a massive improvement even in the last 5 years.

    Unless they have worked more than 10 years in the profession, a lot of teachers either don't know how bad it was before or have forgotten.

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  29. Falco, The Tories have built up a marvelous myth about the 'winter of discontent' when the 3 day week under the Tories was far worse - people going without electricity for many hours at a time over the winter - scrambling to the shops to stock up on candles, people couldn't even go to work. And thats before we get on to Thatcher with unemployment permanently over 3 million and riots a regular occurrence.

    A brief dispute between dustmen and Tory councils became 'rubbish piled in the streets'. A brief 2 day strike by gravediggers that delayed some funerals in Liverpool, became 'can't even bury the dead'. A loan from the IMF and some quite right wing policies to control inflation became 'Labour cap in hand to the IMF'.

    The only people who benefit from a Tory government are the 10% at the top - that is why the majority of their staunchest voters come from there.

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  30. Ellipsis - "So Thatcher is to blame for increasing supply[?]"

    How does selling off public housing increase supply? If Thatcher had used the proceeds to build more houses then great but she didn't - she reduced the number of houses being built. Labour had other electoral priorities when they came to power - people wanted the NHS and education properly funded, only now have they realised they need to build more houses.

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  31. Neil 6/12 5.05am.

    There we differ. I'd like to see taxes cut for EVERYBODY, in particular for lower earners, sure, but the scale of government waste is such that you could easily knock £2,000 - £3,000 off every taxpayer's bill.

    Tax cuts for higher earners don't necessarily mean tax hikes for lower earners, y'know?

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  32. Mark - "Tax cuts for higher earners don't necessarily mean tax hikes for lower earners, y'know?"

    Yes, but it did mean that under Thatcher and Major and Heath, Macmillan, Churchill and every Tory PM there has ever been.

    If we get rid of Labour we are going to have a Tory led government - what do you think will happen under Cameron?

    Even if the proceeds of tax cuts were evenly distributed who do you think suffers most from the inevitable cut in public services?

    It is alright saying that you will only cut waste and so services will be unaffected, everyone says that - but nobody ever actually achieves it very much (and there is no evidence the Tories are any better than Labour on this).

    The bottom line is Labour have increased spending which helps the poorest, moved the tax burden from the poorest to the top half (although not the top 1%) and a the only current electoral alternative is a Tory government doing the opposite. This monopolistic situation is to change and the best way of achieving it is electoral reform. People should leave the Greens, UKIP, Lib Dems and their alienation behind, join the Labour party (even joining the Tories makes more sense) and campaign for electoral reform if they want to instigate real change not going back to a worse alternative.

    Mark, you are member of UKIP, the radical tax and benefit changes you seek - do you really see them ever happening under this electoral system where the 2 main parties have little or no electoral competition to worry about? You lot talk of the benefits of competition (which I agree with you about) and a 'free market' (which I don't because it generally gets dysfunctional without proper regulation), so why argue against competition in party politics? Which is what in effect, people are doing when they oppose proportional representation.

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  33. "Inevitable cuts in public services"?

    You ask a postman or bus driver, would he (or she) like a tax cut, paid for by sacking several thousand quangista earning £100,000s a year for doing sweet fuck-all, several thousand 5-a-day advisors and "climate change officers" and slashing MPs' salaries and pensions!

    As to UKIP, without PR we don't stand much of a chance, that is true. So what?

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  34. Mark, we need PR to bring radical ideas like yours and mine to the fore.

    The Joseph Rowntree Trust (pdf) does such a survey of voters and they consistently say that people want a more equal society and more spent on public services.

    "62 per cent of people in 2004 favoured a combination of tax and benefit approaches that are moderately or strongly redistributive"

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  35. Mark, Do you really think Cameron is any more likely to get rid of the Quanganistas? The Tories record on this is poor. The choice is between taxing the poor more as the Tories will do, or taxing the better off more - as Labour will do. Until we get PR we won't get any radical change to this choice.

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  36. To you second set of questions, Neil, your guess is as good/bad as mine! But I doubt whether the Tories will be quite as awful as the lot that's in power now!

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  37. I remember the standard of CVs in the 80s and 90s. There has been a massive improvement even in the last 5 years.


    That's interesting, Neil, because I remember the standard of University entrants in the 90s, and on average today's applicants are less well read, less able to construct a coherent argument in reasonable English, and require far more remedial tuition to bring them up to the standard expected on entry.

    The students have just as much raw ability - they're just less well educated.

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  38. Sam, I agree that in some subjects there has been a little 'grade inflation' and there are far more candidates with mickey mouse A'levels taking mickey mouse degrees.

    But..as you should know, universities are taking in a much larger percentage of the population today in the 70s it was the eilte 7% now it is 40% - there is bound to be a small drop in standards but these people are still better educated because they never even went to university in the past - they really couldn't read and writel and left school at 14.

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  39. Mark, take my word for it, they will be worse - a lot worse. Not only more incompetent, but will make inequality worse - as their track record proves.

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  40. Ah yes, the three day week that was in no way the fault of the miner's union. Thatcher took power in a country on it's knees and pushed through the reforms necessary to get things moving again, (including breaking the power of the unions).

    As for education; it's pointless to deny the obvious scale of grade inflation and it is within subjects not just mickey mouse A-Levels that is where the problems lie. There has not been a "small drop in standards" in the quality of undergrads so much as a massive slump. Tony Blair's idiotic target to get 50% of school leavers into university made that inevitable. When you are taking 40% into uni you take in a huge number who are not able enough to complete a decent degree. It costs them and the taxpayer money, wastes everybody's time and all for what? A socialist social engineering project that, as always with these plans, is doomed to fail because of a profound lack of understanding of human nature.

    As for, "The only people who benefit from a Tory government are the 10% at the top", this is untrue. As a generalisation, right wing methods make everyone wealthier but allows those at the top to become wealthier faster in return for the risks taken with their investments. Left wing methods ensure that any increase in wealth will happen far more slowly out a tragic belief that it is more important to prevent a rise in inequality even if this means that everyone is worse off as a result.

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  41. Maybe only 10% get richer under Tories but 90% aspire to get richer and prefer to life in a society where they can. Socialism strangles those aspirations and deters entrepreneurs from taking risks keading to fewer jobs and reduced national wealth

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  42. Falco, great simpleton, ahhh...the old inequality is good for the economy argument - why then is Germany, France and most of Europe doing better than us? They still manufacture things, if it wasn't for the oil we'd be sunk.

    The truth is we need to educate people to a higher standard and have more equality to improve the economy - the 50% target is low in international terms - in the long run, increasing the number of students will pay off big time. Those academically at the top have not got worse, you are just not comparing like with like. People who in the past would have been left to unskilled jobs (which are no longer there) are now getting degrees - of course they are better educated than the past - but you cannot compare them to the small elite who got degrees long ago.

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  43. reformation post tlc7/12/07 4:00 pm

    Great Post Neil,

    Drawn out all the real nutters !!

    Top work

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  44. Neil,

    I'm not arguing over education, more giving people the opportunity to improve themselves if they want. By all means let go for equality of opportunity, although I think setting university targets isn't the way, but don't stiffel individuals in the pursuit of some political dream of equality of outcome.

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  45. "the old inequality is good for the economy argument" - No Neil, what is good for the economy happens to result in inequality, once again you have things arse about tit.

    "why then is Germany, France and most of Europe doing better than us?" - That would be why London is the fourth largest French city then is it? We have a very far from perfect tax regime but being slightly less socialist than most of the rest of Europe makes us a beacon for talented people.

    "They still manufacture things, if it wasn't for the oil we'd be sunk."

    Please, and this is a genuine plea, read up on some economics before saying things like this. Perhaps then you would understand that manufacturing things in such a way as to lose money is not a sensible idea.

    "the 50% target is low in international terms" - Absolutely untrue. Perhaps you just phrased this badly and meant something different but if not, this is arse gravy.

    "increasing the number of students will pay off big time." - If they learn something worthwhile, an awful lot of them don't now.

    "Those academically at the top have not got worse, you are just not comparing like with like." - you have a glimmer of a point here but what has happened is that having a degree has been devalued because many people now hold worthless ones.

    "People who in the past would have been left to unskilled jobs (which are no longer there) are now getting degrees" - I fully support giving people the education they are capable of receiving. A more sensible idea would be to give a university education to those who can make use of it and more applied training to those who can't or prefer not to. The current situation with people who are only capable of unskilled jobs studying for degrees is such a waste.

    "but you cannot compare them to the small elite who got degrees long ago." - Yes you can, although it does depend on when you are comparing to. There was a terrible problem in that there was a stage, (even up to 40 years ago that I know of from a primary source), when if "daddy was the right sort of chap" then you got in. That is something that appals me because I believe such selection should be based on ability. Other than the very large problem of state school education, (once again a symptom of socialist dogma, (comprehensive education being largely crap, not necessarily the existence of state funded education)), things had moved in the right direction and you can compare with the 80s and 90s.

    The sad fact is that far more than 50 % of the population lacks the ability to make use of a University education however much you try and make them do it.

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  46. In New Zealand, the participation rate for university is 76%, in Australia it is 65%, in Finland it is 72%, in Hungary it is 56% and in the Netherlands it is 54% - in the UK just 44%.

    Source: BBC

    Of course, what they study is also important and how relevant it is to their needs, but I don't think we can afford to be left behind on this. We do need to expand vocational training as well.

    I don't think we should measure the success of our country on how well we steal the educated from other countries - this is called social dumping where low tax countries like the UK and US spend less on educating our own people and attract educated from abroad with higher wages and lower taxation. It is pretty nasty behaviour - the equivalent of riding free on the bus at others expense. The real wealth creators are those countries and companies that train their citizens/employees. We need more and more highly educated staff and those countries that do that will prosper in the long term - inequality is damaging to our economy.

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  47. Neil,

    I don't think anyone can seriously disagree that increasing overall education standards in the country is a good thing. Self interest alone dictates that we need a wealthier country and the best way is through education.

    Where I, and I assume others from the free market and libertarian end of the spectrum, disagree with you is in the methods.

    If we are to achieve these aims we have to stop using the education system as a tool for social engineering and fixing all the perceived problems in society. Teachers are being stifled by constant instructions from the centre on how to teach and to include ever more sex education, social education and similar subjects. Laudable though those aims are they distract from basic education.

    Secondly, any emphasis on equality of outcome dilutes the levels of teaching given to the brightest pupils. We need to find a way to help the 70% who are going on to university to be prepared and if that means the 30% who aren't are separated at an early stage we have to accept it. That doesn't mean the 30% are ignored, just taught differently. Furthermore, within the 70% we need to find a way of grouping pupils so that they can progress as quickly as they are able, and that means some form of streaming.

    We also need to value education and learning as worthy in themselves and not just a means to an end. There is a growing culture of dismissing education as worthwhile. Unfortunately this is in the sink estates where the brightest pupils are being overlooked and missing out.

    Conversely, we shouldn't dismiss those who aren't academics.
    My son raises an interesting point when he says teachers threaten children that they will become dustbin or road sweepers if they fail. We have to value everyone in society and I believe the best way is through competitive sport in schools, but that's a different debate.

    Finally, if these graduates are to be useful to society they have to be getting a worthwhile degree. By that I don't mean they all have to be engineers, mathematicians, physicists or biologists, areas that drve greatest econimic growth and greatest benefits to society, but their degrees need some academic rigour so that industry can be confident they can be trained.

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  48. GS, There is much we agree on. 'Grade inflation" is a problem, as is 'difficult subject' avoidance and a lack of vocational training. University education could also be more tailored and efficient in some subjects. I don't deny any of this. But, as I have pointed out, the 50% UK target is low in comparison to New Zealand where they have 76% graduates and many other countries have much higher targets. It is foolish to think we can get away with not educating the mass populace and it having no detrimental impact on our economy. Those days are gone.

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  49. Neil, is it Thatcher's fault that Harriet Harman, Peter Hain and Wendy Alexander, plus assorted cronies, are incapable of following the law in regard to acceptance and registration of donations?

    If it isn't Thatcher, is it greed, incompetence, arrogance or criminal behaviour?

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  50. Neil,

    If there is one thing that those boneheads in Government haven't learnt is that setting a target, any target, is not the same as having a policy. You can pick any number you like for students at university but unless you have the political vision, strength of mind (a la Maggie, to get back to your original subject)and administrative abilities to implement the policies you are doomed to wallow in abject failure. Which is what we are now seeing.

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  51. Shug,

    Of course its Maggie's fault and the resoning goes like this:

    Because the Tories won so convincingly using PR companies and advertising New Labour had to do he same.

    However, the Tories were against tax payers funding political parties.

    Ergo, its Maggies fault.

    If you don't believe me look here:

    http://www.labourhome.org/story/2007/11/27/172658/25

    and read the comments.

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  52. It seems to have been censored, sorry, moderated...

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  53. Shug - "If it isn't Thatcher, is it greed, incompetence, arrogance or criminal behaviour?"

    Under Thatcher, all this was legal. Labour's incompetence is down to top-down hierarchical structure of the party - something we have sadly followed the Tories on. The excuse was it would help us win elections. The Tories will never give their members any say on policy - they give them a choice of two (pre-chosen by their MPs) for leader and thats it. The Labour and Tory parties will always be the biggest left and right parties and therefore the only way us plebs can influence policy - as the Tory party don't believe in democracy - that only leaves the Labour party (with its many faults). The more of you that join - the better Labour will get.

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  54. I'm still hunting down info on this but I find it very hard to believe that the New Zealand figure for instance is comparing like with like. If it is then they are sending over 50% of those with an IQ of less than 100 to university. That would be a terrible waste of time for all concerned.

    It would seem more likely that a large number of vocational courses have simply been renamed as degrees.

    As for the rest of what you said you once again are talking through an inappropriate orifice. If you punish people for success then they have two serious options. Stop wasting so much effort since they will receive only a fraction of any reward or go somewhere they will be rewarded. It is not immoral to put ourselves in a position whereby both we and these people can benefit. What is wrong is taking so much from them to fund the socialist economies from which the come.

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  55. Dodgy Geezer14/12/07 12:44 pm

    This thread is enthralling!

    Tell us, Neil, is there any evil in the last ten years that Maggie has not been personally responsible for? Or, alternatively, is there any good she has ever done in her life?

    I always thought one of her greaest achievements was to make the Left wing look stupid, and she still seems to be managing that...

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  56. Thatcher's worst crime is the one she is proudest of - the creation of New Labour as Thatcher's children.

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  57. Blaming it all on Thatcher is like blaming it all on immigrants.

    Blaming wrong!

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  58. snafu,

    Thatchers worst crime, as far as the left appear to be concerend, was coming from a humble background, working hard, getting a good education and succeeding.

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  59. Great Simpleton, so true!

    That's why Labour strive to ensure the great masses have no decent education these days!

    How many recall the glory days of the 1970s when public sector services were amazing, state monopolies in energy and communications meant customer service was second to none!?!

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  60. It always amazes me how Thatcher's background is described as 'humble'. She lived in a nice rural area, her dad owned a number of shops and had fingers in various other businesses. She had a secure middle class upbringing, was in the lucky 10% that went to grammar school and the even luckier 4% (at the time) that could afford university (she went to Oxford).

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  61. Is that why you hate grammar schools so much despite them being an excellent tool for social mobility?

    I blame the Normans, bloody immigrants.

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  62. Neil,

    So Thatcher's father had a few shops, which he got through hard work, why isn't this humble? I haven't read any stories about him throwing wealth around like confetti or other display of huge ego?

    So only 10% went to Grammar School. Given that this is through selection it just shows that she worked hard. Yes, she was fortunate to have the academic ability in the first place but she still had to work hard. And Grammar Schools were open to all - my own father was brought up in the slums of Bradford and managed to get a selected. Surely that's good for social mobility?

    Then she was one of only 4% that went to Oxbridge, that's not lucky, that's hard work, again. I would accept if she was the offspring of some Lord or other member of the elite she may have been fortunate, but she had to work hard, not just to get there but to earn her degree.

    So I still contend that the reason she is despised by the left is that she showed it was possible to succeed through hard work. What makes this worse is that jealously has led to few chances for the poor to improve their children's opportunities through the closing of Grammar Schools and the ending of the assisted places scheme.

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  63. Neil, I reckon I like Thatcher and her pathetic apologists even less than you - but realistically, whilst I do blame her for many of our ills, I really can't blame her for any of the ones you've listed here.

    Tony Blair admires her and Gordon asked her round for tea - who are the real scum here?

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  64. Neil - She lived in a nice rural area, her dad owned a number of shops

    Where did she live? - Have you ever been to Grantham?

    How many shops - exactly?

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  65. Simpleton, Urko, Falco - Thats 4% that went to University not Oxbridge! The figure for Oxbridge would have been a tiny fraction of a percent.

    I suppose I am a bit of a determinist. Thatcher's dad may have worked hard (to get his 2 shops and other businesses) and Grantham is hardly Buckinghamshire but I doubt Thatcher would have had any chance of going to Oxbridge, let alone being PM, if her dad had been unemployed and she had been brought up on a rough inner city estate - the sort of estates she made ten times worse. We are still suffering from her policies - that admittedly Labour have done too little to address.

    Real social mobility can take generations (and even then, only for a tiny minority) - I think this unbelievably unfair and we cannot pretend that we are anywhere near selecting on merit until this changes.

    Grammar schools allow opportunities for a very tiny number of working class at the expense of giving the vast majority a worse education in secondary moderns (Grade averages fall overall in Grammar areas). Of course, selection by catchment area is hardly better and I am against that as well because it ends up as selection by wealth in a bidding war for houses.

    The only way to break the middle class stranglehold on the better state schools is to allow the best graded pupil from each school a place at Oxbridge. The majority of schools send no-one most years and this cannot be right while the tiny independent sector (7%) sends over 50% and barely a 100 other schools (out of over 3,000) make up the rest of the intake of over 7,000 students.

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