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(Guardian)   An insightful, thoughtful and very personal remembrance of Margaret Thatcher and "Thatcherism." The reason for the "unlikely" tag? It's written by Russell Brand   (guardian.co.uk) divider line 47
    More: Unlikely, Iron Lady, welfare fraud, social context  
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3370 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Apr 2013 at 11:13 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-10 09:42:38 AM
that was a good read. though i find him annoying, i've always thought that brand was quite brilliant.
 
2013-04-10 10:02:17 AM
I read this yesterday and found it to be the best article on her death thus far. Shocking given that he seems like such a crass jackass whenever you see him.
 
2013-04-10 10:51:09 AM

Irving Maimway: I read this yesterday and found it to be the best article on her death thus far. Shocking given that he seems like such a crass jackass whenever you see him.


It's just that: he's not actually that much of a jackass.  He's brilliant.  He's just chosen a different way to entertain himself (first drugs and sex, then just sex, now apparently a bit of both) that shapes his expression towards the comical instead of straightforward.  His success as a writer and comedian - and don't forget how successful his books are - has enabled him to embrace that entertainment without reserve.

Yet he's still brilliant.

Comedians, at their best, are insightful.  Sometimes it's situational ("Whats the deal with...") and other times it's just wonderful absurdism ("I know what you're thinking, 'Steve, when do YOU find time to juggle?'") but it's always about seeing something just outside the normal field of view.
 
2013-04-10 10:54:18 AM
mattharvest:

Comedians, at their best, are insightful.  Sometimes it's situational ("Whats the deal with...") and other times it's just wonderful absurdism ("I know what you're thinking, 'Steve, when do YOU find time to juggle?'") but it's always about seeing something just outside the normal field of view.

This is totally true. Bill Murray and Adam Sandler come to mind as comedians or comedic actors who have done their best work in dramatic parts.

I've never read any of Brand's books, but I'll put him on my list.
 
2013-04-10 11:11:06 AM
He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.
 
2013-04-10 11:25:21 AM
He admits he has made bad decisions all his life, but he is better now and he is telling us the only reason he didn't go on a killing spree is because he didn't play video games.

Well I'm convinced.
 
2013-04-10 11:25:35 AM

Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.


This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.
 
2013-04-10 11:26:40 AM
And, I should attempt to post in the correct comment thread.
 
2013-04-10 11:29:30 AM

Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.



What many don't seem to remeber was that the UK was well on its way toward being a 3rd world economy before Thatcher became Prime Minister (they needed an IMF bailout).  Unions were part of the problem-not the whole problem but a large part of it.  Inefficient state owned busnesses like the coal mines (there was a world-wide coal glut) were another part.
 
2013-04-10 11:30:01 AM

Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.


And I'm sure you give President Obama credit for bringing down our unemployment rate, right?

...Right?
 
2013-04-10 11:32:05 AM

Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.


You know she jiggered that number by moving a large chunk of the "unemployed" to "disabled" right?
 
2013-04-10 11:32:57 AM
That was indeed surprisingly eloquent, and an excellent read.  Thanks, Subby.
 
2013-04-10 11:33:04 AM

Wendy's Chili: Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.

And I'm sure you give President Obama credit for bringing down our unemployment rate, right?

...Right?


Also, somebody is going to have to explain to me how full employment is bad for union power?
 
2013-04-10 11:38:16 AM

Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.


I'm pretty sure this is an out and out lie (or misunderstanding). The rate was like 6% when she came to power, soared during her early premiership (peaking at 13.5% in 1983) and then fell back to close to what it had been at the beginning. Source:http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5 &ved=0CE wQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ons.gov.uk%2Fons%2Frel%2Flms%2Flabour-mark et-trends--discontinued-%2Fjanuary-1996%2Funemployment-since-1881.pdf& ei=3oVlUeTDPJGe8QSNvoC4Dw&usg=AFQjCNE9YcBw-O9uJCCTR2rrQre5Vg1hZw

So... yeah.
 
2013-04-10 11:38:48 AM

Irving Maimway: Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.

You know she jiggered that number by moving a large chunk of the "unemployed" to "disabled" right?


CBO: Record Number of Workers on Disability to Increase

Social Security Disability Increased by 5.4 Million Under Obama

A White House study found that more and more people have lost jobs, received unemployment benefits for as long as possible, and then received disability.
 
2013-04-10 11:40:42 AM
Maggie Thatcher should have gone to Washington and given Congress some backbone lessons.

They could use it. . . . .
 
2013-04-10 11:42:07 AM
Oh Russell, still seeing things with "a kid's memory" and living life carefree as if still a child you have no clue what it is like in the "real world."Russell has no clue as he has never had to want for anything EVER in his life. Even now he is where he is because of his mother make no mistake.

 Mrs. Thatcher increased spending on Law & Order, Employment & Training services, Health services and Social Security.

What pissed people off is she demanded able bodied people take advantage of the job training and get off the dole.

Someone has to work to keep things moving wake up Mr. Brand as you are nothing but the weight of a rock on society.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a rock star who will be remembered fondly way after you are returned to dust.
 
2013-04-10 11:46:10 AM

czetie


Also, somebody is going to have to explain to me how full employment is bad for union power?


If unemployment is near-zero, the job applicants have some leverage as the employers will probably have difficulty filling open positions (since almost everyone will already be employed elsewhere). Applicants can then negotiate better deals and as a result have much less use for a union.

If unemployment is high, the employers hold the upper hand and can be very selective and force lower salaries. The union, through the leverage of collective bargaining, can still negotiate higher salaries with the employers when individuals cannot.

When unemployment is high people tend to seek union jobs because of this, and also because of the damn-near-impossible-to-get-fired nature of a union job.
 
2013-04-10 11:49:52 AM

FlashHarry: that was a good read. though i find him annoying, i've always thought that brand was quite brilliant.


I don't think it was a good read at all his dissed her then just in-case there is back lash makes up for it at the end. It reads like the writing of a bipolar manic.
 
2013-04-10 11:51:02 AM
"a voice-both boring and boring" describes both Thatcher and Brand perfectly.
 
2013-04-10 12:00:21 PM
Dispelling the Thatcher myths

 And when the economy did pick up speed in the late 80s, it was because of a credit bubble that promptly burst and threw Britain back into recession.

It's said that Thatcher was a tax-cutter. She wasn't. The overall tax burden (all taxes as a percentage of GDP) rose from 39 percent in 1979 to 43 percent in 1989. It's true that Thatcher cut taxes massively for the rich - the top rate of tax was 83 percent when Thatcher came to power, and it was 40 percent when she left. But VAT, which hits the poor harder than the rich, was just 8 percent before Thatcher, and was put up to 15 percent as soon as she gained power.
 
2013-04-10 12:10:08 PM
I can't articulate with the skill of either of "the Marks" - Steel or Thomas - why Thatcher and Thatcherism were so bad for Britain but I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship - it's just not British.

No Russel, it's very British. Read up on your own country's history.
 
2013-04-10 12:10:09 PM
Neither liberalism nor conservatism left to their own devices are great for an economy.

State-owned businesses and over-staffed government enterprises are proven time and time again in pure economic math to be more inefficient than private-sector businesses.  The role of government is to provide services and complete projects that cannot be done in the private sector--NOT to be an employment agency.

At the same time decreasing income tax too low for the rich, while increasing VAT or sales taxes too high does hurt the poor and lower-middle classes disproportionately.

In these threads can we all admit some from one a some from the other is probably the best way to go?
 
2013-04-10 12:12:53 PM
Just remember, if you danced and celebrated when Thatcher died you have proved that she was right about there being no compasionate society.

/Like most things in life the truth about her legacy is some where between the two ends of the debate.
 
2013-04-10 12:13:22 PM

Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.


All that North Sea oil had nothing to do with it then?
 
2013-04-10 12:19:28 PM
The article was boring and boring.  I ignored the content. The intent was clear.
 
2013-04-10 12:26:36 PM
Clemkadidlefark:
Unions. Another way of saying thug.


No.

Unfettered union power, like unfettered capitolism, is where the thugishness comes from.

We're seeing the latter currently in the US.

Was Thatcher correct in standing up to the unions the way she did?  Yes and no.  Yes, in standing up to the unions, but that doesn't mean that all the methods she used were sound.

Nor were all her other methods of dealing with groups she was opposed to all that spectacular.

Yes, it gave her a legacy, but it's not the kind of legacy that successors would want to be associated with, at least not and have a chance of success.   In much the same way that Republicans in the US don't strongly reference the policies of Bush II; they have to go back to Reagan for "good feelings / buy-in".
 
2013-04-10 12:35:58 PM

czetie: Wendy's Chili: Clemkadidlefark: Flint Ironstag: He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
From being totally written off as a country in the seventies to having an economy so strong that when Blair came to power he kept to the spending plans of Major and coasted on the economic success of the Conservatives.

This

When she took office unemployment was 17%. When she left office 5%. This pissed off the Unions.

Unions. Another way of saying thug.

And I'm sure you give President Obama credit for bringing down our unemployment rate, right?

...Right?

Also, somebody is going to have to explain to me how full employment is bad for union power?


Because unions can use the threat of unemployement, and the lack of any alternative jobs, to boost their own power. If there are plenty of jobs then people can just walk away from a union they don't like and go work elsewhere. And the unions don't have any "threat" to scare their members with to support taking action.
 
2013-04-10 12:59:00 PM
Well, THAT was.... boring.
 
2013-04-10 01:03:45 PM
I thought the necrology by Ian McEwan was much better. Russell Brand IMHO uses too many multi-syllable words for the very sake of it, and McEwan puts some finer opposite viewpoints in there as well.
 
2013-04-10 01:10:52 PM
That was intelligent and well written. Brand is a smart guy. The link below is him riffing, off the top of his head, about his character in The Tempest:

http://youtu.be/aBOMSzhIfjk
 
2013-04-10 01:19:23 PM
tl;dr version:  I was too young to follow politics, but she seemed very stern.
 
2013-04-10 01:50:11 PM
Perhaps the most insightful part of the article "I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it's much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others."
 
2013-04-10 02:41:00 PM
Thatcher's dead.  Good riddance.

http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/22919
 
2013-04-10 02:51:36 PM
KimNorth:  Mrs. Thatcher increased spending on Law & Order,


Awesome! I LOVE those shows!
 
2013-04-10 02:54:21 PM
Hey now, I guess Russell's ok with me then. He's a good writer at any rate. Sure as hell better than the link below this one.
 
2013-04-10 02:58:49 PM
RIP Margaret Thatcher.

She was real and spectacular.
 
2013-04-10 04:02:24 PM

Flint Ironstag: Because unions can use the threat of unemployement, and the lack of any alternative jobs, to boost their own power. If there are plenty of jobs then people can just walk away from a union they don't like and go work elsewhere. And the unions don't have any "threat" to scare their members with to support taking action.


Huh. Apparently, for the first time in living memory, I was insufficiently cynical about human nature and in particular people in positions of power.

The way I looked at it was this: In periods of full employment, unions have much stronger negotiating power with employers through their ability to monopolize the labor supply, especially in countries with strong pro-union laws ("closed shop", for example). Employers can't use the threat of hiring non-union labor if there's little or no labor of any kind available to be hired. Conversely, in a period of high unemployment, employers can more readily go around the union monopoly because people are desperate for work and can set aside their own fear of the union's power to lock them out.

So I guess it depends on whether you think that the union is primarily motivated to help its members or control its members...
 
2013-04-10 04:05:42 PM

JNowe: tl;dr version:  I was too young to follow politics, but she seemed very stern.


Exactly same reason why conservatives like her
 
2013-04-10 04:20:41 PM

Irving Maimway: I read this yesterday and found it to be the best article on her death thus far. Shocking given that he seems like such a crass jackass whenever you see him.


You forgot "likely under the influence", "shifty" and "a side-saddle tenor".

Mind you, he's no Andy Dick.
 
2013-04-10 04:29:20 PM

czetie: Flint Ironstag: Because unions can use the threat of unemployement, and the lack of any alternative jobs, to boost their own power. If there are plenty of jobs then people can just walk away from a union they don't like and go work elsewhere. And the unions don't have any "threat" to scare their members with to support taking action.

Huh. Apparently, for the first time in living memory, I was insufficiently cynical about human nature and in particular people in positions of power.

The way I looked at it was this: In periods of full employment, unions have much stronger negotiating power with employers through their ability to monopolize the labor supply, especially in countries with strong pro-union laws ("closed shop", for example). Employers can't use the threat of hiring non-union labor if there's little or no labor of any kind available to be hired. Conversely, in a period of high unemployment, employers can more readily go around the union monopoly because people are desperate for work and can set aside their own fear of the union's power to lock them out.

So I guess it depends on whether you think that the union is primarily motivated to help its members or control its members...


If you are an employee in a time of full employment, with employers competing to hire you, why would you need a union?
Get fired? Just walk into another job.
Want a raise? Just get a job that pays better.
Who would need a union? What could they offer their members? And what could they threaten their members with if they left?
 
2013-04-10 05:33:10 PM

czetie: So I guess it depends on whether you think that the union is primarily motivated to help its members or control its members...


Bureaucracies, like lifeforms, exist to propagate themselves.

Given that, I leave the answer to your question as an exercise for the reader.
 
2013-04-10 05:56:25 PM

Flint Ironstag: Who would need a union? What could they offer their members? And what could they threaten their members with if they left?


It would depend on the time and the place, and on unions being powerful enough to control the availability of jobs. Bear with me a little, it's not easy to explain without a lot of context. Britain in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s was a very strange place that's hard to picture if you didn't grow up there.

In Britain when Thatcher came to power, the big unions were strong enough to control the supply of labour (sic). For example, if you wanted to work as a miner you had to be a member of the National Union of Miners (NUM). Nearly all the mines were controlled by the government itself (what was called a "nationalized industry"), but even the very few private mines wouldn't hire non-union workers. If anybody did so, the union would go out on strike, not just at that mine but across the industry. The transport unions (who controlled road and rail freight) and the steel workers would come out "in sympathy". Within a couple of weeks, stocks of coal would be exhausted and the country would grind to a halt. This was the chokehold the unions had. Furthermore, the unions at that time were led by a generation of deeply militant leaders (for example, Arthur Scargill) who were so ideologically committed to their beliefs that they were willing to let the country go to ruin rather than concede this control (ask any British person of a certain age about the "three day week"...).

So now imagine that you're a miner. You live in a mining town, where nearly all the jobs -- and certainly all the well-paid jobs -- are down the mine. You're the son and grandson of miners who've lived in the same town for generations. Your only skill is mining. There's no "better paying" mining job because the wages are agreed between British Coal -- the only employer -- and the National Union of Miners -- the only supplier of miners. There's no other job to walk into because all the mines are run by British Coal, not only in your town but in every town. Even if it were possible, it would never occur to you to get a job in a different line of work. You have (or perceive yourself to have) no mobility. We're not talking about people with transferable, white collar skills. From your point of view as a miner, the union owned your ability to work, full employment or not. (And in return, it guaranteed that you got paid, even if the economy was in recession and demand for coal was down and in a normal market-driven economy, employers would be slowing production and laying off workers).

(If you didn't experience it, it's hard to imagine the degree of control that the unions had at the time. The closest American circumstance I can think of is the days when some US unions were controlled by the mob -- except that everything the British unions were doing was completely legal. In many ways it was analogous to the evils of the "company town" in the US -- with the bizarre twist that the exploiter was the Union that supposedly represented the workers, rather than the employer. The Union had in effect become the employer, and power had moved one step along the chain.)

As bizarre as it sounds, this was the reality of Britain from the 1960s into the early 1980s. The big unions really were able to control access to employment so tightly that they didn't have to fear full employment.

For this reason, there is a good case to be made that Thatcher deliberately embraced high unemployment because in those circumstances it weakened the unions. It reduced their membership, and made people more willing to defy the union and take a non-union job because jobs were so hard to come by. Having broken the union's power with the combination of a deep recession, changes to the law, and frankly brutal police action, she was able to return to full employment in pretty much the situation that you described, where full employment no longer handed power to the unions because their monopoly was broken.

So this really is the core of the disagreement about Thatcher's legacy. Did the power of the unions need to be broken? Yes. Did it have to be done at such cost to ordinary workers? I think not, but there's no way to ever know.

Does that help at all?
 
2013-04-10 06:29:27 PM
It's sad that for the vast majority of people out there, the death of one of the most powerful leaders of the Free World™ in recent times has been used entirely as a way to score as many cheap political points, bend as many facts & lies, and try to denigrate current leaders and policies instead of even thinking twice about her. Facebook in particular has been inundated with a muddled mishmash of Thatcherism, anti-Thatcherism, and anti-Obama the past couple of days.

The same thing was done when Reagan died, and I'm sure it'll happen when either of the Clintons die. Why does everybody love to hate so much?

/Facebook has done wonders for my local social life, but if there were a way to turn off seeing others' shares I might be able to stop facepalming for just one day.
 
2013-04-10 07:08:42 PM

czetie: Flint Ironstag: Who would need a union? What could they offer their members? And what could they threaten their members with if they left?

It would depend on the time and the place, and on unions being powerful enough to control the availability of jobs. Bear with me a little, it's not easy to explain without a lot of context. Britain in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s was a very strange place that's hard to picture if you didn't grow up there.

In Britain when Thatcher came to power, the big unions were strong enough to control the supply of labour (sic). For example, if you wanted to work as a miner you had to be a member of the National Union of Miners (NUM). Nearly all the mines were controlled by the government itself (what was called a "nationalized industry"), but even the very few private mines wouldn't hire non-union workers. If anybody did so, the union would go out on strike, not just at that mine but across the industry. The transport unions (who controlled road and rail freight) and the steel workers would come out "in sympathy". Within a couple of weeks, stocks of coal would be exhausted and the country would grind to a halt. This was the chokehold the unions had. Furthermore, the unions at that time were led by a generation of deeply militant leaders (for example, Arthur Scargill) who were so ideologically committed to their beliefs that they were willing to let the country go to ruin rather than concede this control (ask any British person of a certain age about the "three day week"...).

So now imagine that you're a miner. You live in a mining town, where nearly all the jobs -- and certainly all the well-paid jobs -- are down the mine. You're the son and grandson of miners who've lived in the same town for generations. Your only skill is mining. There's no "better paying" mining job because the wages are agreed between British Coal -- the only employer -- and the National Union of Miners -- the only supplier of miners. There's no other job to walk ...


A very good summery

Also the National Union of Miners used strong arm tactics to enforce strikes. This ranged from shunning people who crossed picket lines, forcing others to shun those who crossed pickets, blocking anyone from entering or anything leaving mines being picketed, trying to disrupt businesses who took shipments of coal from mines on strike, threats of violence, vadalism of homes of people crossing picket lines and actual violence against those who crossed picket lines.

The National Union of Miners was not an inocent actor in the strikes nor did its members have much ability to change the leadership as the voting was as free and fair as the voting in the USSR.
 
2013-04-10 07:08:43 PM
He looks like a dirty hippie (kinda), but he's actually extremely articulate. Pretty entertaining, actually.

As for Thatcher ... meh. I mean, props to her for becoming the big dog in the UK, that couldn't have been easy, but other than that ... don't know enough to judge one way or the other, whether she was a net positive or negative. I'm guessing I'm not the only one. And that even the British can't agree. She seems to inspire equal amounts of loathing and admiration, depending on your political persusasion. Kinda like Reagan.
 
2013-04-10 09:39:39 PM

czetie: Flint Ironstag: Who would need a union? What could they offer their members? And what could they threaten their members with if they left?

It would depend on the time and the place, and on unions being powerful enough to control the availability of jobs. Bear with me a little, it's not easy to explain without a lot of context. Britain in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s was a very strange place that's hard to picture if you didn't grow up there.

In Britain when Thatcher came to power, the big unions were strong enough to control the supply of labour (sic). For example, if you wanted to work as a miner you had to be a member of the National Union of Miners (NUM). Nearly all the mines were controlled by the government itself (what was called a "nationalized industry"), but even the very few private mines wouldn't hire non-union workers. If anybody did so, the union would go out on strike, not just at that mine but across the industry. The transport unions (who controlled road and rail freight) and the steel workers would come out "in sympathy". Within a couple of weeks, stocks of coal would be exhausted and the country would grind to a halt. This was the chokehold the unions had. Furthermore, the unions at that time were led by a generation of deeply militant leaders (for example, Arthur Scargill) who were so ideologically committed to their beliefs that they were willing to let the country go to ruin rather than concede this control (ask any British person of a certain age about the "three day week"...).

So now imagine that you're a miner. You live in a mining town, where nearly all the jobs -- and certainly all the well-paid jobs -- are down the mine. You're the son and grandson of miners who've lived in the same town for generations. Your only skill is mining. There's no "better paying" mining job because the wages are agreed between British Coal -- the only employer -- and the National Union of Miners -- the only supplier of miners. There's no other job to walk ...


Sort of. But then I'm British and remember Maggie being elected...

That's why my original comment was "He does repeat the myth that Margaret Thatcher "declared war on the unions".  In the UK in the seventies and early eighties the unions were open about them using their power to bring down governments or force them to do their bidding no matter what the country at large wanted. They declared war first, and openly. Maggie was the first leader to have the balls to stand up to them.
She didn't declare war. It was self defence, and the UK benefited hugely from her time.
 "

And my point was that were there other, non union, mines, railways etc around and hiring, and full employment, that would be very bad news for the unions. That is why they had to fight so hard to keep the closed shop system.

And I'm not anti union in principle. I walked the picket lines during the writers strike for example. Because there you have the employer having all the power and the workers being screwed, big time. But, as you say, in the seventies UK it was the unions doing all the screwing.
 
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