Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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Margaret Thatcher: My Tribute

Thatcher: A towering figure of the Twentieth Century

Thatcher: A towering figure of the Twentieth Century

Talk to anyone who was living in Britain in the late 1970s and they will tell you this: our country was on the rocks, our European cousins across the channel sniggered we were the “sick man of Europe”, the dead were left unburied during the Winter of Discontent, the trade union barons ran the country enjoying beer and sandwiches in Number 10.

Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister in 1979

Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister in 1979

Then came the election of the first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1979 and the rot was stopped.

I was born in 1979 and although I do not remember that year I have discussed at length with my father what the UK was like back then, when he was building his career and starting a family, and, in his words, it was “a different world”. By the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990, I was starting secondary school and I remember vividly a left-wing teacher bursting into our classroom and gleefully telling his colleague: “She has resigned!”

But by the time she was ousted from office, she had done what she set out to do. Mrs Thatcher took Britain from being a basket case where the previous Labour Government had been forced to call in the IMF into the fourth largest economy on Earth by the time she left Downing Street after eleven years in 1990. Thatcher transformed Britain and no other peacetime prime minister has ever come close to securing such a lasting legacy.

This very day, we only need to look around, and we can see her legacy. Privatisation of our public utility companies brought wealth through shareholdings to millions of people who had never had a stake in a company. I work for one such company – BT – and it is a far better run company for being publicly owned than it ever was as a State-run organisation. Back in the 1970s, owning a car and going abroad on holiday were still a luxury – today, many families have multiple cars and many more go abroad on holiday at least once a year! How do you think this happened? It didn’t magically occur. It was created by the economic reforms Margaret Thatcher, along with her trusted advisors like Keith Joseph and Willie Whitelaw, put in place. Mrs Thatcher unleashed an entrepreneurial revolution, removing regulation to help small businesses start up and thrive. The reforms in the City of London, notably the ‘Big Bang’ of 1986, made London’s financial services industry a rival to Wall Street and overnight brought down barriers to employment in the sector: out went the old-boys’ network, in came the ‘barrow boys’.

Millions and millions of baby boomers today are living high on the hog because of Margaret Thatcher. I wish I was part of my parent’s generation rather than starting my career in the early noughties whilst Labour were taking a wrecking ball to the British economy once again.

Back in the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher put the power back in the hands of the people and out of the hands of the elite trade union barons who until Maggie came along were quaffing beer and munching on sandwiches with THEIR Labour prime minister in Downing Street. Thatcher crushed the unions who had held an economic gun to the head of Britain for too long and because of parliamentary legislation she passed they will never be able to threaten our country’s economy again.

Falklands: Thatcher repelled aggressors

Falklands: Thatcher repelled aggressors

Margaret Thatcher was not just a political heavyweight domestically but also internationally. When a military junta in Argentina invaded a small British sovereign territory, called the Falkland Islands, 8000 miles away from the UK, which most of the British population had never heard of, Thatcher did not flinch. Instead she ordered the fleet to sail for Port Stanley and, when there was not a large enough troop carrier available to the Ministry of Defence, she commandeered a cruise liner to ferry our troops to the South Atlantic.

We now know Ronald Reagan, through the release of the Thatcher files under the Thirty-Year Rule, did not support her campaign to retake the Falkland Islands and he encouraged her to not “humiliate” the Argentines and to pull back. She refused and two weeks later the Union Jack was flying once again over the Governor’s House in Port Stanley.

Freedom: Thatcher and Reagan together ended the Cold War

Freedom: Thatcher and Reagan together ended the Cold War

Then there was the Soviet Union. Red Star, a USSR propaganda sheet, dubbed her (even before she became Prime Minister) the Iron Lady for her strong will. She detested Socialism and Communism in all their forms. Thatcher saw millions of fellow Europeans trapped behind the Iron Curtain in countries like Hungary, Romania and Poland under oppressive regimes with their economies shattered. Together with Ronald Reagan, who adored her steadfast leadership style, they defeated Communism in Europe and ended the Cold War, allowing tens of millions of people to travel abroad and unleashing their talents into the global economy.

In Hungary, high schools have a dedicated page in their history course books to only one UK prime minister: Margaret Thatcher.

Unlike the British Conservative Party leadership of today, Margaret Thatcher did understand the aspiring class. She was the daughter of a green grocer who worked her way up and, granted, through the love of her husband Denis, his wealth allowed her to leave her trades of Chemistry and the Law to become Conservative Party Leader and then prime minister in 1979. But she never forgot where she came from and instinctively understood people who were thriving and trying to get on. Maggie always knew the price of a pint of milk!

Margaret Thatcher was a major national and international figure, whatever your politics. She ranks alongside Wellington, Palmerston, Gladstone and Churchill. Unlike them she ordered before her death that she did not want her body to lie in State and therefore she will not have a State Funeral but will be afforded a Ceremonial Funeral in St Paul’s Cathedral with full military honours. It will be the same form of funeral as the Queen Mother in 2002. This is entirely fitting for a woman who was one of the greatest world leaders of the Twentieth Century.

As the current Prime Minister David Cameron said on this sad day, Margaret Thatcher “saved” our country. Frankly, she put the Great back in to Great Britain.

May this great lady rest in peace.


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BREAKING: Margaret Thatcher has died

Political giant: Margaret Thatcher has died

Political giant: Margaret Thatcher has died

Britain’s longest serving Prime Minister, first female PM, and the ‘Iron Lady’, as the former Soviet Union dubbed her, has sadly passed away today, aged 87.

Margaret Thatcher will be given a Ceremonial Funeral with military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Flags have been lowered to half mast this afternoon in Downing Street.

More to follow, including a tribute to this colossal of world twentieth century politics, who transformed Britain and helped end the Cold War…


BREAKING: David Cameron in Ipswich to talk tough on immigration

Prime Minister David Cameron is making a speech on immigration in Ipswich at UCS

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking in Ipswich

UPDATE: David Cameron experienced the horrendous Great Eastern mainline during his journey from London to Ipswich this morning when he was forced to alight at Manningtree because of “problems on the line” forcing the PM to switch to a car for the remainder of his journey. Let’s hope Ipswich MP Ben Gummer took the opportunity to lobby the Prime Minister for more investment in the railway infrastructure in this part of the world.

You can read a full report of Mr Cameron’s speech complete with photo of Cameron and bodyguards courtesy of Ipswich Spy.

Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Suffolk’s County town to say he is ‘rolling up the red carpet’ for immigrants.

In 2010, Ben Gummer was one of the few Tory parliamentary candidates to put a leaflet out during the General Election voicing his concern over uncontrolled immigration. Mr Gummer will have had some involvement in the Prime Minister’s visit as is customary when an MP visits another MP’s consituency (despite how senior the visiting MP is!).

As has been attributed to me before by leading Tory blogger James Spencer of the Bridge Ward News parish, if the Conservative Party had been as right-wing as Ben Gummer in 2010 they might have won the General Election…

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NHS complacency has killed people and continues to harm

Thousands needlessly died but NHS won't learn

Thousands needlessly died but NHS won’t learn

My wife has been unwell for three weeks now, stricken  by a bad case of the flu and followed up by a throat infection.

One of the doctors, who my wife has never seen before, that congregate in our super-clinic, which was once called a GP surgery, saw her on Thursday and provided some antibiotics. Sounds all well and good until you scratch below the surface.

Firstly, they were the wrong type of antibiotic for throat infections and secondly the dosage was far too small (ironic when you read on below).

So we called the out-of-hours GP service, contracted out to Harmoni* on Saturday morning. We were instructed to go up to Ipswich Hospital to see the doctor. We were seen by a GP who lolled around the clinic like a petulant teenager, not making eye contact, and making it patently clear they wished they were tucked up at home with boyfriend and some Bollinger rather than doing her job.

This contemptuous attitude was just the start of our NHS “experience”. The GP made my wife feel it was her problem the super-clinic GP had prescribed the wrong medication on Thursday and then when my wife told the doctor she was allergic to penicillin, the doctor thought it wise to interrogate her as to “what actually happens when you take penicillin?”. Err, not a lot of good happens, doctor!

And then the NHS really showed their incompetence when they prescribed my wife one hundred antibiotics to last a whopping 25 days course. This was clearly an error by the doctor, which if my wife hadn’t spotted it, could have led to over dosage and significant harm. The pharmacist was shocked but only after my wife did a 180 about turn when she realised what she had just been dispensed. People of my generation question authority but an elderly pensioner is likely to think “if doctor says so, it must be right” and would have proceeded to swallow 100 antibiotics over a month rather than the much smaller does over usually one week, potentially leading to significant harm.

No wonder many antibiotics are now resistant to bacteria when you have incompetent doctors like the stroppy girl on Saturday making out the prescriptions.

I complained – naturally – via Twitter and although Ipswich Hospital is not responsible for the work of Harmoni I included them in my tweet, as we were on Ipswich Hospital property during our visit to the out-of-hours doctor. And I believe Ipswich Hospital have a responsibility as a core member of the NHS.

To be fair to Dr David Hartin, the Emergency Care Lead Clinician Lead and Twitterer-in-Chief at Ipswich Hospital, he showed compassion for my wife and directed us to where we could complain about Harmoni’s poor performance. I can’t fault his service but the wider NHS, in my view, is institutionally uncaring (to the point of killing patients) and in vast swathes of the service it is incompetent.

The response by the mainstream political parties to the NHS scandal at Stafford Hospital, where 3,000 patients needlessly died at the hands of nurses and doctors was a disgrace. Sir David Nicholson, who was promoted to head the entire NHS despite being in charge of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust at the time of the killing fields, is still in post. He even went to Parliament and lied misled MPs when he said Gary Walker, former head of United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, had not identified himself as a whistleblower when he raised patient safety concerns to Nicholson in a 2009 letter to him.

David Cameron refuses to place the spotlight on Andy Burham who was the Labour Health Secretary at the time of the deaths. The culture of “I don’t do blame” has infested itself so much in the public sector and Government that when elderly people are starved to death by NHS nurses, the response from our Prime Minister is akin to “nothing to see here, move along”.

Well, I for one will never bury my head in the sand and will make sure people realise what a dangerous institution the NHS is: it holds a mirror up to the failed Communist regimes of the fallen Soviet Union and is just as flawed. The quicker we break it up and bring in a Netherlands-style health service the better for everyone’s health.

This veneration of the NHS by politicians, hoodwinked members of the public, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury must stop.

UPDATE: A fellow blogger in the Ipswich Spy parish alerted me to this sad story published last year in the Morning Ipswich Star where a blind pensioner from Felixstowe was handed the wrong prescription at a branch of Boots pharmacy. The man subsequently died.

*Harmoni, in Suffolk, took over the out-of-hours GP service from Take Care Now who had the contract removed from them after one of their doctors, who could not speak English, killed a patient in 2008 with a Morphine overdose. Par for the course in the NHS. Just add that fatality on top of the thousands killed at Stafford Hospital (some through starvation) hey, Sir David Nicholson? It’s incredible one gets a knighthood in the UK for slaughtering the patients in your care!