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Margaret Thatcher's Policies Benefited Britain

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,177 times Debate No: 59268
Debate Rounds (5)
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As Pro, I will argue that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's policies, both domestic and foreign, benefitted Britain. My opponent must arguet the opposite, that Britain was worse when she left office than when she came in. The burden of proof is on Con to do so.

Rules and Structure

Round 1: Introduction/Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Defense of Arguments, more rebuttals
Round 5: Final defenses and rebuttals, conclusion

If one debater is to break the rules, they lose the debate. Forfeits are not tolerated and the one who does so will lose. If one debater cannot continue, he or she must tell the other debate and it must be confimed in the debate for voters, resulting in a tie.


I accept the debate and await response.
Debate Round No. 1


The Need for Free Market Economics

Let's face it, in the 1970s Britain sucked. The country was in a state of decline. Hubbard and Kane explained it well:

"By falling into technological wake of the more innovative U.S. economy, the British shifted into a much less entreprenurial economic structure than it had during its heyday. To be fair, England has produced many great scientists and invetions, but there is no dying its relative stagnation in the late twentieth century. Its expansive national health system is a cautionary tale - expensive to the taxpayer, difficult to reform." [1]

Weflare and nationalization programs, supported by most prime ministers in post-World War 2 Britain until Margaret Thatcher came along, were actually putting the nation in a state of inevitable decline. This was clear in 1978 and 1979, most notably the famous "Winter of Discontent" when unions decided to strike:

"The transport of goods pactically dried up. Employees were laid off as businesses were crippled by the lack of deliveries, enforced by intimidatory and often violent picketing of docks and factories. Piles of rubbish lay uncollected in the streets. Roads were not gritted (in very cold weather), schools were closed and hospitals admitted only emergency cases, while shop stewards took it on themselves to determine what was an emergency. Most famously, in Liverpool, the dead went unburied. On 22 January 1.5 million workers joined in a national Day, the biggest stoppage since the General Strike in 1926." [2]

The Labour government led by Prime Minister James Callaghan could do little. His party's greatest asset was being allied with the unions. His party saw as trade unions as the right thing for the people and that nationalized industries were needed to preserve jobs. This terrible thinking led Thatcher and the Conservatives to win the 1979 General Election. She decided to launch free market policies: supply-side economics, combat inflation, reduce size of government, and privatize national industries.

"What Thatcher hoped to do, by maintaining strict control over the money supply, was return the economy to the point of zero - or at least low and stable - inflation. She imagined this would necessitate a slight period of higher unemployment, after which unemployment rates would return to their starting point." [3]

This is what happened. Inflation started to rapidly collapse under her. It came back a bit in 1990, but after that there has not been any major issues with inflation while before her it could get pretty outrageous.

"Rates of both inflation and unemployment in Britain are now very low. In fact, since 1997, Britain has ranked top in both output and inflation in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development." [3]

Here is inflation:

Inflation under Thatcher.

What about taxes and less banking regulations? Likewise this worked as well. The top income tax went from 83% to 40%, the standard tax rate from 33% to 25%, corporate taxes from 52% to 35%, and inheritance from 75% to 40%. The values added tax went up from 8% to 15%, for a more fair tax. The Big Bang in London is famous for opening up the international markets to Britain. There was huge economic growth. [2,4]

"The effect of the 'Big Bang', combined with [Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel] Lawson's tax cuts and the bonanza of privatisation, which offered huge rewards not only to the merchant banks which bore the risk but also to an army of consultants, advertising agencies and public-relations companies which rode the wave of lucrative new business, meant suddenly the City became glamorous.....Deregulation, the easy avaliability of credit and the rapid proliferation of personal computers created a climate in which small businesses flourished, helping to create more than 3 million new jobs (mainly in the service sector) between 1983 and 1990 to make up for those lost in manufcaturing at the beginning of the decade." [2]

"Privatization generally saved the taxpayer a fortune and made privatized industries more competitive and innovative. The privatization of British Telecome resulted in a dramatic loweringof prices and improvement in service. The sales of council houses was and remains one of Thatcher's most popular policies." [3]

As we can see here, the economy boomed and continued to boom after her:

Economic growth under Thatcher.

Government spending:

Government spending under Thatcher.


Jobs under Thatcher.

War with Argentina

I don't know why anyone would say she was now succesful here in that she won a war against Argentina, caused the communist military junta to fall, and made Britain lift its spirits out of its recent decline. It was the war that gave her a second term in the 1983 general election by a landslide.

In April 1982, Argentinean troops invaded the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, British territories in the South Atlantic. The dictator of Argentina, Leopoldo Galtieri, believed this was a great distraction to get the people on his side by reclaiming the Islas Malvinas. However, the people on the island were British and wanted to remain so.

"The Argentinean troops reportedly were taken aback to discover that the islanders spoke English and did not welcome them as liberators, but the invaders adjusted quickly to the paradigm shift. Using languae that appears to have been inspired by the novels of Graham Greene, they proceeded to issues a series of minuatory communiques to the islanders:"

Some of these were closing all shops and schools. No one could leave their houses. Propaganda was sent over radio. Rightfully, Thatcher sent a large task force of 26,000 men to take back the islands, which they did. This causing the brutal regime in Argentina to collapse, saved the islanders, and brought new pride in Britain. How could this way be anyway wrong?

Stick it to the Unions!

Arthur Scargill was the internal Galtieri. He was an evil slimy thing who was head of the miner's union and had a lot of power with Labour and the British government in general. This was because of the nationalize industries, which included coal mines. Thatcher believed it was time to challenge the unions and get rid of the unproductive coal mines. As a result, Scargill launched a strike in October 1984. This would be the most important of all strikes. It is important to undestand just how uncompetitive the British mining industry was.

"That year, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission reported that some 75 percent of British pits were making losses. It cost 44 pound to mine a metric ton of British coal. America, Australia, and South Africa were selling coal to the rest of Europe for 32 pounds a ton. British coal was piling up in mountains unsold." [3]

"The economic case for the shrinking coal industry was incontestable. The rundown had been going on under governments of both parties since the 1960s." [2]

The only reason the mining industry still existed was because anytime past governments tried to do something the miners held strikes and British fell apart. Thus, the unions were a huge interest group in the government and had their voice through Labour. Thather and Energy Minister Peter Walker decided to stock up coal and prepare for a struggle. When it came they were ready to crush the power of the unions and end unproductive coal mines for good. When it did come, the strike lasted until March 1985 and was a huge success. The power of the unions was curbed and the coal mines began to shut down. It is important to understand this was not just about productivity, but also who controlled the government. Before her a militant minority could push the entire country into submission. After he the trade union movement was dead.

"So Margaret Thatcher not only reformed trade union law in a way that her predecessors had tried but failed to do, but in Arthur Scargill she faced a more ruthless and dangerous foe than her predecessors and succeeded in proving that a democratically elected government could prevail over a mindlessly militant minority who were trying to hold the country to ransom." [5]

First Britain, Tomorrow the World!

One of the great signs that you are working wonders for your country is when foreign leaders come to visit to ask how they can do it. This was exporting Thatcherism around the world. Leaders came to her doorstep to ask how they could try the reforms.

"Above all she was the most articulate and charismatic champion of a wave of economic liberalisation which was sweeping the world, turning back the dominant collectivism of the past half-century." [2]

This was the rise of a globalisation and free markets around the world!

"Over the next decade the same necessity imposed itself right across Europe. In the fifteen years from 1985 over $100 billion worth of state assests were sold off, including such flagship national companies as Renault, Volkswagen, Lufthansa, Elf and the Italian oil company ENI, adding up to the 'greatest sale in the history of the world.'"

At the same time, she had a critical role in Cold War affairs. She met Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and sent to Washington that he was a new man the capitalist countries could do business with. She remained publicly supportive of Reagan even through times they disagreed in order to their to be a strong alliance against communism. Her role cannot be diminished here. [2,3]

1. Hubbard, R. Glenn., and Tim Kane. Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Print.
2. Campbell, John. The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer's Daughter to Prime Minister. New York: Penguin, 2011. Print.
3. Berlinski, Claire. "There Is No Alternative": Why Margaret Thatcher Matters. New York: Basic, 2008. Print.
4. Stewart, Graham. Bang!: A History of Britain in the 1980s. London: Atlantic, 2013. Print.
5. Hanson, Charles. "Thatcherism, Trade Unionism and All That « Adam Smith Institute." Adam Smith Institute, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 July 2014.


Thank you Pro, I’ll present my arguments.

Margret Thatcher is one of the more overrated Prime Ministers Britain has ever had, and I can give a list of points why. As a disclaimer, I’ll say I am not British, however, I am Canadian, and the Government here is quite similar to the UK.

Margret Thatcher’s economic policies were deeply influenced by her longstanding hatred of Socialism and all things left. Her political foundation was built on privatization and so-called free markets. Indeed, a Daily Mail article not four days old reads “Thatcher tried to sell off the NHS but I blocked it”. MP Ken Clarke had fights with Thatcher over her trying to switch the healthcare system to the privatized American style system.

Her “Right to Buy” scheme as passed in the Housing Act of 1980 ended up crashing the UK housing system and in-part destroying the manufacturing industry. Although Council House purchases tripled from 1986 to 1982, they ended up creating a housing bubble, with a third of ex-council homes being owned by a wealthy elite. People bought houses on the cheap and then were crushed by high mortgages and drastic price leaps in housing prices along with a mercurial housing market.

The construction of these homes has shifted in the past 30 years from local authorities to private enterprises. The prices for a home in the UK have leaped into the stratosphere in the past ten years. If you look at the graphs for the housing sales, they drop off dramatically towards the end of Thatcher’s run, and, after a short rise, they drop to a very low level. Thatcher’s unbounded financial sector took advantage of the system for many years. Tony Belton, a Labour councillor in South West London said that, "Speculators have made millions out of exploiting public assets."

Along with her detrimental housing polices, her Poll tax is a shining example of the failure of Thatcher’s policy. She introduced the tax in Scotland first, in 1989, to the dismay of the Scots, then through the UK later in 1990. A single rate tax crippled the poor and benefitted the rich. The outcry in the UK was massive and caused rioting, culminating in a large-scale London riot with some 200,000 rioters.

It was the Poll Tax mixed with her direct opposition to Trade Unions and her ceaseless support for business and, also, a financial sector that went almost entirely unbound after her reforms that killed industry in the UK, and permanently crippled Northern England. Thatcher crushed the Unions ability to work in a Democratic fashion and they were left, as she had planned, without a say. From 1980 to 2012 Union members declined from 13 Million to below 6 Million.

She abandoned the Miners, even denouncing them, saying “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” The 1984 Miners strike ended in disaster, crippling the Union forever and privatising the industry in 1994 under UK Coal. Pit closures were and still are commonplace after 1990. Miners were forced into debt, entire towns dried up, and the sense of unity among communities was shattered.

David Hopper, the general secretary of the Durham Miners Association, said in 2013, “There's no sympathy from me for what she did to our community. She destroyed our community, our villages and our people…Our children have got no jobs and the community is full of problems. There's no work and no money and it's very sad the legacy she has left behind.”

So there you have it. A Marge Thatcher who:

Caused nationwide riots with the Poll tax

Destroyed the Manufacturing industry and crippled Northern England

Created a housing bubble with her Right to Buy scheme

Destroyed the housing market with Right to Buy

Destroyed Unions that ranged from over a hundred years old partly to fix inflation

Widened gaps between rich and poor

Let Banks and Finical Corporations and Companies have unbounded freedom, creating a speculative economy that was primed for failure

Privatised many important services- further decimating North England

Set up a system doomed to fail after her resignation


Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttal Period

I thank my opponent for what is going clear be a great debate. The way my opponent gave many sperate critiques of Thatcher at the end together can be bunched into some full sections and paragraphs in my rebuttals, so that is what I have done.


It should be noted that when Labour finally took back power in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would reverse course with the internal market reforms the Thatcher Government had passed in her last year in office in 1990. The National Health Service and Community Care Act was supposed to make the state the enabler of health policies and not the supplier. This job was to be done by new NHS trusts who would compete with each other while local governments purchase the services needed. Yet Blair did a U-turn in his second term after the 2001 general election where he decided to modernize the healthcare system. Thatcher's reforms were kept in place because they were the start of a much needed reform of the NHS (which is difficult to do as my first source mentioned):

"The point of all our proposals is to produce a better NHS providing the type and standard of service a patient has a right to expect throughout the country. Hospitals will have more freedom to manage their own affairs and so will be able to respond better and quicker to individual patients and their GPs. District health authorities for their part will in future be able to concentrate on identifying the health needs of the populations they serve and then making sure that they receive a comprehensive range of high quality services." [1]

One must understand what was wrong with the system:

"The trigger was a crisis at Birmingham Children's hospital where heart operations had been postponed for lack of funding putting young lives at risk. The NHS had lurched from crisis to crisis during the 1980s and the Government had once more been forced to seek an extra £100 million from the Treasury to bale it out. Patience was wearing thin, and the Tory party was growing restive." [2]

"Every development since has been a refinement of this market structure. Has it improved the NHS? The service is better today than it has ever been, with shorter waiting lists, better access and higher standards of care than at any point in the last 60 years." [2]

"Right to Buy"

The blame for the 2008 economic crisis cannot be blamed on Thatcher, but on prime ministers and their governments following her. Keep in mind Thatcher was a fan of high interest rates, balanced budgets, private spending over public spending. When Labour won by a landslide in the 1997 general election, the Blair government increased welfare spending beyond the revenue provided and interest rates were cut dramatically allow for easy credit policies that were very outrageous. This increased borrowing and the bubble burst in 2008. However, it is wrong to blame this on Thatcher, who had largely different policies:

"A mixture of budget restraint, economic recovery, North Sea oil revenue and enhanced receipts from privatization and council house sales brought borrowing down, and by 1987-8 the British government was a net repayer of debt. This achievement might have been expected to be repeated during the unprecedentedly prolonged period of economic growth of the first decade of the twenty-first century. It was not, primarily because the Thacherite belief in smaller state was reversed through a return of borrowing." [3]

Poll Tax

I will say that because this policy was never actually carried through to its full effect, primarily because of massive protests by the infamous Militant Tendency, which had influence had in the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation and because her successor John Major and his Conservative government abandoned the policy, we cannot fully assess and analyze the effects of the poll tax. We know people were made over it, but just because a policy is unpopular does not mean it is the wrong policy (most of Thatcher's policies led her swimming against a socialist tide). The problem on why the poll tax was introduced was because of local governments, specifically Labour ones, that didn't want to cut their budgets and instead raised taxes. Like I said though, this policy lasted from 1990 to 1993 so we don't have much long-term effects to debate her. This argument must be discarded.

Unions and Manufacturing Industry

It is important to understand, like I have already said before, that unions were taking the British government hostage by getting whatever they wanted when a strike occured because all major industries were owned by the state. This was a disaster in that unions were threatening a democratically elected government. Thus the threat to the government needed to be taken out and that is what Thatcher aimed to do. These the unions that led the previous Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath (who Thatcher served as Education Minister) to call five separate state of emergencies from his victory in 1970 to his defeat in 1974. Heath simply did not have the guts to fight them and the country was held hostage. Thatcher did have the guts.

"Nor were the unions important merely because strikes caused disruptions and lost revenue. They were partners in government to the extent that they were accorded a critical role in economic policy, agreeing with government ministers' nationwide pay norms to prevent greeat numbers of employees - even in the private sector - from earning above a perscribed amount." [3]

One has to consider this outrageous that these unions had such lobbying power in a government to get whatever they wanted, even if it was against the wishes of the voters.

Thatcher also created more than enough jobs to offest losses in manufacturing jobs:

"A net of 1.6 million jobs were created under Thatcher. The manufacturing industry lost 1.9 million, while the services sector grew by 3.6 million." [4]

Remember that were was such a huge decline in the quality of state manufcaturing that the government was making huge losses. Thatcher sought to get rid of the dead weight and what was left became a small and effecient system. Also, services dramatically increased while manufacters decline. This is the natural economic cycle of agricultural economy, industrial economy, and then service economy. People say this is wrong, but why? The pattern has always been like this:

"This is a pattern that has been seen throughout the world, and there is nothng wrong with it - or if there is, most of the First World is now in worse economic conditi0on thant the Third World, which is an apagogical argument. Services are real economic goods, and civilization depends of them. If you possess a comparative advantage in service provision, you are clearly better off providing services." [5]

"A Doomed to Fail System"?

What is doomed to fail about defeating unions that threaten democracy, turning your country into a modern economic powers (while socialism falls apart), making Britain a strong nation after the Falklands War, and preventing the nation from going into permanent decline. People ended up better off under her.

"Recall Sir Nicholas Henderson, the British ambassador to Paris, who sent a telegram to the foreign office in 1979 remarking 'today we are not only no longer a word power, but we are not in the first rank even as a European one.' He included his missive table: It showed that Britain's per capita income was 46 percent below West Germany's and 41 percent below France's.

As of today, British per capita income is 6 percent higher than united Germany's and 8 percent higher than France's. Britain is Europe's fastest growing economy now and fifth largest." [5]

All this can be credited to a grocer's daughter from Grantham.

1. ""Working for Patients"" (Hansard, 7 November 1989). N.p., 7 Nov. 1989. Web. 24 July 2014. <;.
2. Laurance, Jeremy. "Margaret Thatcher's Impact on the NHS." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 July 2014.
3. Stewart, Graham. Bang!: A History of Britain in the 1980s. London: Atlantic, 2013. Print.
4. Jones, Jonathan. "Margaret Thatcher in Six Graphs." Spectator Blogs. The Spectator, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 July 2014.
5. Berlinski, Claire. "There Is No Alternative": Why Margaret Thatcher Matters. New York: Basic, 2008. Print


64bithuman forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent has lost this debate.


Apparently I lost.
Debate Round No. 4


Yes it is in my rules, however it was fun debating you.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by 1Historygenius 7 years ago
Some debaters such as myself prefer to have a more rigorous rules system. In my case I say forfeits are not tolerated because that causes a debate distortion in the rounds. Don't worry it isn't a bad thing. This is just a debate.
Posted by 64bithuman 7 years ago
Oh Crap I was working like mad and forgot about what, I lose?

What kind of conceited B.S. is this?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Subutai 7 years ago
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