Sunday, May 03, 2009

Thirty years ago today... was the 1979 general election and Margaret Thatcher came to power. Half the blogosphere's celebrating fiercely whilst the other half is whingeing and moaning that democracy exists in this country or some such.

One interesting piece that has caught my eye is ConservativeHome's Platform: David Torrance: Debunking the myths about Margaret Thatcher and Scotland. In it he addresses head on the main myths thrown about - that Thatcher hated Scotland, that she sought to destroy Scottish industry, that the Poll Tax was a test in Scotland, that she attacked the Church of Scotland, and that she destroyed the Scottish Conservative Party.

Much of the Conservative Party has a strange relationship with its modern history. In certain quarters the Thatcher era, or rather the misremembering of the Thatcher era, is almost worshipped. At the same time the pre Thatcher era (or rather the Macmillan/Heath years) is demonised (okay in the case of the Heath years that's not without due cause). And at times people try to pretend the Major years just didn't happen, rather than considering the achievements. All too often it seems people want to run away embarrassed from the more controversial stuff.

The result is that with individual exceptions rarely is an attempt made to take on the many myths made about past Conservative governments and oppositions. Look at the stories of the creation of the NHS - no acknowledgement that it was a Conservative Minister of Health (Henry Willink) who introduced the original White Paper "A National Health Service" or that if the Conservatives had won the 1945 election they would also have introduced a fully comprehensive, universal healthcare system, free of charge and available to all citizens irrespective of means. The Conservatives voted against the specific Bevan proposals not out of opposition to the general principle of free healthcare but because the British Medical Association had concerns about the level of control of doctors. But all too often Labour members tell or repeat lies about this one.

There are others that have been debunked as and when - indeed I've at times done so myself in the limited environment of blog comments. But more will need to be done, especially when the next general election comes as Labour can be expected to wheel out all manner of myth and scare stories about previous times when the Conservatives were in power.


Mary B. said...

I'm a leftie but i think even the most ardent Conservative will now not deny that Thatcher's policies caused a lot of unrest and suffering especially Oop North

The Midlands is always the key when it comes to elections so she could afford to not care about the North or Scotland

Thatcher was not god and a lot of people suffered because of her and have genuine reason to hate her

I wonder why this cult of hers has grown up when she was such a fool who did such harmful things

Manfarang said...

In the 1979 General Election there was a swing to Labour in Scotland.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Actually the Con-Lab swing was slightly to the Conservatives - see Scottish Parliamentary Elections on Scottish Politics: The almanac of Scottish elections and politics.

What confuses is that both Labour and the Conservatives (and also, slightly, the Liberals) had an increase in their shares of the Scottish vote at the expense of the Scottish National Party. Also the 1979 BBC election results special doesn't give the full picture as some of the more rural seats didn't declare while it was on air and so the impression is of Scotland swinging to Labour.

Manfarang said...

We didn't just rely on the BBC for our news and analysis.In those days The Scotsman was an excellent newspaper.
Also in 1979,there was the first European election.No doubt you will be telling me there was a massive turnout.


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