Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still Thatcher's Fault

IT HAS BEEN a good day for Margaret Thatcher’s reputation, once again dignified by her enemies. In Buenos Aires, the actor Sean Penn decried “archaic” colonialism and proclaimed the Falklands to be Argentina’s, which is probably the strongest endorsement one can imagine of British sovereignty, the he-man actor not boasting much of a record for mastering fact,  argument, or Madonna (despite introducing a baseball to their relationship)
Closer to home we had our own Penn-like innocent, the ABC’s somewhat cuddlier Europe correspondent Eric Campbell, who minced about Bavaria for half an hour to explain why Germany’s economy is strong and Britain’s  feeble. Yes, it is Dame Thatcher’s doing. Campbell explains why, starting at the 10:50 mark of his report:
The Mittelstand embodies the kind of Victorian values of prudence and thrift and saving that Margaret Thatcher tried to instill in Britain. But the problem of Thatcherite de-regulation was that it also led to greedy banks offering easy loans that put the whole country in debt. Here Bavarians have gone down a different path…
It is getting on for 22 years since Thatcher left Downing Street. 

Before Prime Minister Abbott de-funds it, the ABC should stump up the cash to get Penn and Campbell in the same room. What a conversation that would be.

UPDATE: Foreign Correspondent's Campbell has responded in comments. It is good of him to have done so, and anyone answering his remarks is urged to do so with civility.

It would also be unfair to address his points at any length, as the host of any blog will always enjoy the last word. That said, if Margaret Thatchers eighties-era deregulation caused the GFC, what of Blair's removal from the Bank of England of the authority to set interest rates, his courting of the City and Gordon Brown's further loosening of regulation? To blame Thatcher at such a distance from the Big Bang is akin to nailing John F. Kennedy for today's US deficits. After all, JFK did slashes income tax rates, especially the top ones, as one of his first acts.

It is true, some economists do blame Thatcher, but the thing is, they are quoted almost exclusively in the Guardian, The Independent and New Statesmen. Other economists argue otherwise. As Campbell is based in Australia and must endure many long flights to his reporting destinations, he has a splendid opportunity to broaden his reading.

One last point. Campbell is probably too young ever to have seen Britain in its pre-Thatcher era. It was not a pretty sight, even allowing for the charm of someone else's short and curlies in the communal bathtub and the spectacle of milk bottles kept on window ledges because  fridges were, even as late as 1976, far from ubiquitous.


  1. Tried to instill? Perhaps "tried to get Britons to rediscover" would be more like it.

    The propensity of Hollywood actors to expand upon their political views continues to offend me. They should remember that the public adores them (where it still does) for their acting ability, not their political discourse. Penn was never much of an actor anyway. Eventually, of course, hubris claims them all.

  2. Sean's suffering a touch of sour grapes. His audition for the title role in The Iron Lady...

  3. The Old and Unimproved DaveFebruary 15, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Here's a fun factoid.

    'Penn' is the word for 'head' in Kernewek, the Celtic language of Cornwall, and as such, many insults start with it.

    For example :

    'Penn-tin' = butthead
    'Penn-kalgh' = dickhead

    It ain't Walkley quality writing perhaps, but a therapeutic son-of-a-gun nonetheless.....

  4. Judging by recent four corners programs, defunding of ABC begins to look less likely.

  5. Sean Penn is conceited, self-regarding ass. It was he who notoriously took a glass of red wine with Raul Castro in Cuba, but failed to ask him about the authors, some of them sick and without proper medical care, locked up in deplorable conditions by that silly buffoon and his brother. An actor, who enjoys material comfort and the protection of the first amendment, sucking up to the Castros. Sickening and disgusting.

  6. Well, Up here in the sunshine state, the ALP routinely blame Joh Bjelke Petersen for anything that they cock up. Thank god, that will all stop in another couple of weeks.
    I can't wait to see the whole army of ALP unemployed walking the streets begging for enough money to rort a pre-selection.
    There's an entire generation of Young ALP members that have never had to get a proper job and they are all about to find out that they have no saleable skills.


  7. I found Campbell's report rather strange, since it appeared to praising regions - Catholic, conservative Bavaria, birthplace of that dreadful Islamaphobe Pope - and virtues - diligence, family tradition - that ABC 'progressives' normally sneer at. But I guess that for progressives, Germany is now the new Scandanavia, social democracy and green!!

    As for Penn, no one who saw those pictures of him messing about in a boat after Cyclone Katrina has any excuse for believing that he is capable of successfully performing any mental of physical task that isn't scripted beforehand!

  8. So Sean Penn's still going "full"; you'd think he'd have learnt after the movie Tropic Thunder.

  9. "De-funding" the ABC will save about a billion a year. The method has to be privatisation to cut out the cancer, but there are problems.

    This disgraceful Green-Govt has so damaged this country in such a short time that it is going to be difficult to repair the damage, and I guess the ABC isn't at the top of the agenda.

    Number one priority will be to undo the carbon dioxide taxation for the sake of the nation's future, and that will probably mean a double dissolution, as the ALP crew have already shown they have no common sense or even mild scepticism. What happened to little Gracie and the greatest moral challenge of our time? They believed that crock.

    What I'm pointing out is that there is an enormous job for Abbott and Co in the years ahead, and the voters attention will wander again. And then there are people like Petro and Malcolm whiteanting together with the out of control MSM. I'm not at all optimistic. I wish is was otherwise.


  10. Dear 'Bunyip',

    Your sloppy error of fact aside (I'm not the Europe correspondent, I work out of Sydney) you seem peturbed by me mentioning the historical fact that Thatcherite deregulation of banks led to a massive increase in personal and business debt, somewhat undercutting the more positive Thatcherite values of thrift, prudence and saving.

    That's a point noted by economists of all political persuasions, who note both the positive and negative contributions of Mrs Thatcher's legacy and the continuing problems associated with debt-fuelled growth.

    So what, pray tell, is your point? Do you want journalists to airbrush history if it doesn't fit your political convictions? Or just leave out criticism of your political heroes? Perhaps you could supply us with a helpful list.

    I have never had anything to do with Sean Penn, but if you are seriously suggesting that reporting should be tailored to a blinkered view of one side of politics all good/ the other all bad, then I'm sure you and John Pilger would find much in common.

    Eric Campbell
    Foreign Correspondent

    1. Give it away campbell, you've been busted.

      Not the first time you've blithely made yourself look like an idiot, either.

      Just enjoy the warm embrace of your comfy taxpayer funded sinecure while you still can.

      This message brought to you courtesy of the 'Climate of Hate™'

    2. "Do you want journalists to airbrush history if it doesn't fit your political convictions?"
      "Your" ABC is doing that all the time.
      You should know that, EC.

  11. If de-regulation is a 'bad' thing, then the UK Labour party has had a long time to see it, recognise it and fix it. Maybe Tony Blair sat on his hands.
    But then, the ALP in South Australia gave its State Bank a lot of slack, but seemed to forget that it guaranteed the Bank. What a large financial fiasco that turned out to be! 3 billion and counting. So, Labor politicians can be (metaphorically) blind. But then they blame someone else (as usual).
    Still, I drew some heart from Mr Campbell's report. And some despair - can you image any of our governments fostering such enterprise in this commonwealth?

  12. I think it was a baseball bat Penn used on her, as distinct from a baseball. So much easier to get the swing going with a bat! And Madonna is pretty nimble. She'd be hard to hit with a ball, even for a Major League pitcher.

  13. Yo Eric,

    Archaic forms of condescension aside, too many 'journalists' in Australia airbrush history, science and any subject they choose if it doesnt fit their 'convictions'or is critical of their 'heroes'.

    They have been doing this for so long that the Australian public has had to search the internet for other voices that provide balance to their 'narrative'.

    That's why we are here and why you are too, defending yourself.

    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      Come here again Eric. The Bunyip's nip is always worth a look, regardless of your political persuasion. He beats a lone but reverberating drum against the leftist and sycophantic MSM and that other (taxpayer funded) online drumming that pulses from their and your (not our) ABC; and so all power to his wicked wit and ways. Thinking people deserve better, a lot better, from the MSM than they get. Your report on Germany was an improvement in my view, so thanks for that.

      I'd also like to raise the point, Eric (let us be on adult first name terms), that those in the developing third world, who have been enjoying rising living standards over the past thirty years broadly due to 'Thatcherite' economic policies, may see things a little differently to you. Their children are fed, housed, clothed, educated, in contrast to the widespread poverty of the past. There is still a long way to go, and no one claims to have all the answers, but things are indubitably better for a great many. Credit where it is due?

  14. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    I suspect that German manufactures would be a lot more costly if they were sold throughout Europe on a German Mark rather than through a widespread European Euro. The European Union and its Euro well suit some countries with high manufacturing costs for desirable goods. Thus "mittelstadt" economic boutiques (of various sizes) can thrive. The right values help, but it is not just a matter of having these, without other circumstances.

  15. Petty!Petty!.Petty! Yes, I mean you, Eric Campbell

  16. Eric Campbell ventured here under his own name. Thank you for doing so Eric. While I disagree with some of what he says, I respect his opinions.

    Anonymous comments of the 'ya boo sucks' variety are simply juvenile.

    Please behave while at the Billabong, or expect to get whacked with a bloody big nulla nulla (or would that be a nine iron?)

  17. "Thus 'mittelstadt' economic boutiques"

    That'd be Mittelstand. "Mittelstadt boutiques" conjures up images of Manuka knick-knackeries frequented by ALPparatchiki. Good point on the currency, but.

  18. 'It was not a pretty sight, even allowing for the charm of someone else's short and curlies in the communal bathtub'

    Checking into a B&B and having a plateful of used soap bars in the hallway to choose from was wonderous..

  19. 'Good point on the currency, but.'

    I think Eric was trying to fit that in with the Austrians. But it only lasted a millisecond or two, easy to miss within the broader narrative.

  20. Forgive me, but listening to the ABC causes me to demand facts. The link gives the transcript fortunately. The title is "A Bavarian Fairy Tale". Really. Lucky those Bavarians speak English BTW. The offending paragraph noted by the Bunyip sticks out like a sore thumb. The Bavarians made no such remarks. It was inserted by the ABC 'journo' out of nowhere (facts please, not the ABC prejudices). Quelle surprise. That's why I can't stand the ABC or ...


  21. The ABC: middle class welfare.

  22. Also the Germans still build stuff and the Brit's don't.

  23. Yes, Eric prepared a pretty good report overall, praising classical liberal/conservative values of prudence, independence, enterprise, the free market etc as clearly being necessary for progress and prosperity. But then he thinks, hang on, that can't be right, right-wingers are evil employee-exploiting scum just looking out for themselves, and I'm on the ABC. So let's slip in a dig at Thatcher and make up some link between her and the GFC. He felt better for doing that.

  24. "It was not a pretty sight, even allowing for the charm of someone else's short and curlies in the communal bathtub and the spectacle of milk bottles kept on window ledges because fridges were, even as late as 1976, far from ubiquitous"

    Oh so true! Staying with a Liverpudlian mother-in-law in 1973, one had to resort to keeping one's stubbies of Carlsburg on the said window ledge.

  25. Blaming Margaret Thatcher for the GFC seems a bit of a long bow to draw - especially as it was Bill Clinton requiring Fannie May and Freddie Mac to lend to very low income earners that seemes to have laid the seeds for all the junk securitised loans.

    But I think Lady Thatcher does bear some responsibility for the current state of Britain and for much of the western world. Her belief in free market economics led to the de-industrialisation of Britain (seemed like a good idea at the time, made lots of billionaires by shipping jobs off-shore), but the Germans never fell for that one.

    And it was she and her government that really started the ball rolling on the Great Global Warming/Climate Change scare in the late 80s, by backing and financing its adherents, and ignoring the sceptics ( Lindzen, Michaels, Christie, Singer etc), who were around then, but who only seem to be being listened to now, as all their then warnings about dud models and dud predictions have come true.