Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Iron Lady - not a review

His Grace dragged his ashes off to see 'The Iron Lady' last night. This is not a review: there are far more important things to do with one's time than meditate upon the trivial, transient and ephemeral. But there are few nuggets of dialogue which are well worth propagating:

"Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become...habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think we become."

"Politicians used to be concerned with doing something. Now they are obsessed by being someone."

(To be augmented)


Blogger The Lakelander said...

We went to see the film last night.

I agree with David Cameron about the timing of this film. It's too early to properly place Margaret Thatcher in the history of the 20th century.

Amazing acting by Meryl Streep, but anyone with elderly relatives will come away from the cinema feeling very sad.

8 January 2012 at 12:27  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...


I agree, yet one can't see Maggie opting for assisted homicide - Bless her.

8 January 2012 at 13:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Can’t see anyone bothering to make a film about David Cameron – would think no one would want to remember these times...

8 January 2012 at 15:01  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

I can't see myself ever watching this movie. A film about the ultimate hippy (for Thatcherism, far from being a reaction to sixties liberalism, is actually the logical conclusion of its selfishness) in which the lead is taken by the most technically proficient and clinically sterile actress in the business? Naw, I'll wait for the next Bruce Willis.

8 January 2012 at 16:05  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

OK, I know I am going to regret this but ... I can't help myself. I just have to know.

Corrigan1 wrote:

Thatcherism, far from being a reaction to sixties liberalism, is actually the logical conclusion of its selfishness

As we say in the States, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over?


8 January 2012 at 16:27  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace;
I look forward to your augmentation to the article on The Iron Lady. I have not seen the film yet but by the review from Chris Tookey in the Daily Mail, I am reticent to see it. I think I might prefer to remember her as she was. My wife used to sit next to her in commons committee meetings and she gave me many wonderful anecdotes of her behaviour. One was that she never had the minutes of the last meeting with her as she frequently had a different handbag with her. I think she was the best man we ever had, a person of decision, leadership and integrity.

8 January 2012 at 16:31  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Great quotes and how true that second one, wow, on the nail. And Mr Integrity:

"I think she was the best man we ever had, a person of decision, leadership and integrity."

Equally good!

8 January 2012 at 16:48  
Blogger C.Law said...

YG, very thought provoking quotes.

Corrigan, I'll go with Carl on the first point, but you've certainly nailed the rest.

This is my, somewhat belated, first post of the year so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year

8 January 2012 at 17:54  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Inspector A film about Blair would have to be accompanied with an XXX rating! 'Characters in this film are not fictitious but do not believe anything you see or are told’.

8 January 2012 at 18:00  
Blogger OldJim said...

Carl: A Tory from even twenty, let alone a hundred years before Thatcher would have recognised her as a caricature of Whiggery. Very little that was Tory about her at all. However, I wouldn't say that she was formed solely by sixties liberalism - there was the context of the "wet" Keynesian consensus and "managed decline", as well as the influence of the American conservative tradition - where laissez-faire capitalism was far more foundational and "rugged individualism" made statements like "there is no such thing as society" make some kind of sense. Nonetheless, not all of us see her or her children as representative of the Tory tradition. Often quite the opposite.

8 January 2012 at 18:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Too right Mr Integrity. Really should give the man some credit from keeping Brown away from number 10 for so long, but can’t even do that...

8 January 2012 at 18:22  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

I would have thought the connection between Thatcherism and the sixties was quite obvious. The sixties were about self-awareness, self-expression, self-fullfilment, self-growth, self, self, self, self, self. Who does that remind you of?

Remember, Thatcher was not a Conservative (upper-case C) in the tradition of the British Conservative Party's 'one nation' doctrine which involved sacrifice, duty, everyday patriotism and contribution towards society and something bigger than oneself; she was a classical liberal in a line stretching straight back to John Locke and the Second Tretise of Government. She was about so-called 'enlightened self-interest', which is such a balmy term that people forget that it actually means not harming others ONLY because they might harm you in response. There is no ethich of public service in classical liberalism, as there was (to some extent at least) in Conservatism.

Like the Hippies, Thatcherites were all about themselves; Thatcherism was just a darker manifestation of the narcissism that began in the sixties. Both movements were cut from the same bolt of cloth.

8 January 2012 at 18:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

What Maggie did to the mining communities was just plain wrong. Cannot be justified.

8 January 2012 at 18:38  
Blogger C.Law said...


Interesting and persuasive line of thought. The preoccupation with self was, perhaps, brought about unwittingly by many of the parents of the "sixties" generation who, having lived through the Depression and War years tried too hard to give their children everything they never had. This also engendered a lack of discipline in the young which has continued through the generations to this day with the results we see around us.

I have for some time been coming to the conclusion that we should be talking less about human rights and entitlements and more about responsibilities. By this I mean that it is the individual's responsibility to provide for and take care of himself and his family so far as he is able, but it is also the responsibility of society to provide for and take care of those who are unable to do so for themselves. The end result may be the same as looking at the situation from a rights point of view, but the process would, I think, have a stronger social grounding and be more sustainable in the long run. It would also scale up to the way in which countries deal with each other.

8 January 2012 at 18:56  
Blogger C.Law said...


100% right !

[what is it with these wierdly appropriate word verifications? this one is "heler"]

8 January 2012 at 19:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

We IMPORT coal now C Law. For anyone reading this site who’s just missed that, here it is again. We IMPORT coal....

8 January 2012 at 19:06  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Yeah, but the important point is that you put organized labour in its place. Things are SO much better now...

8 January 2012 at 19:19  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Corrigan says: "Things are SO much better now..."
Ah, you got there in the end.

8 January 2012 at 19:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Never really figured you out Sambo. Where do you stand ?

8 January 2012 at 19:35  
Blogger bluedog said...

A very sad film, Your Grace, but quite brilliant, nonetheless.

As to Thatcher being the ultimate hippy, absolutely not! Hippydom was an irresponsible form of self-indulgence, and to conflate that with Thatcher's belief in enlightened self-interest is quite inaccurate and in this case one submits, deliberately misleading and derogatory. If communicant Mr Corrigan was sufficiently open-minded to see the film before making his critique he would understand why his analogy is incorrecet. But as with other matters he prefers the certainty of his own prejudice to informed revelation.

Mr Integrity, like you I have a relation who worked with Thatcher in her prime. Nothing but praise, but then he was never a Wet.

8 January 2012 at 20:10  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Sambo, just in case you missed the point, I was being a smart alec in my last post. Today, after thirty or so years of relentless classical liberalism initiated by Thatcher, the British government is not only the most corrupt in Europe, not only as corrupt as it has ever been since Georgian times when it was simply assumed that one went into government for personal advancement and no other reason, but is actually MORE corrupt than the Georgians.

So there is no doubt in your mind, no, things are NOT so much better.

8 January 2012 at 20:12  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

The 'irresponsible form of self-indulgence', Bluedog? As opposed to...?

8 January 2012 at 20:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Corrigan. but is actually MORE corrupt than the Georgians.

Sadly Sir, one must agree. It just lacks integrity. The spiv in charge is most to blame...

8 January 2012 at 20:58  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I do not wish to see this film, I've heard it's a load of derogatory old tripe despite Meryl Streep's excellent performance as an actress.

Mrs Thatcher to me enabled people to think and do things for themselves. If you had an idea there was every possibility that you could realise it. She is of my mothers generation and I feel they have a tremendous sense of duty and loyalty and she showed this too and inspired others. It was such a shame she left so suddenly just when the country was shaping up nicely.

And when you opened a local rag there were jobs abound in it compared to the situations vacant columns nowadays filled with agency adverts for non existent jobs serving no other purpose other than a plug for the agency. The mining industry was on its way out, people had installed gas central heating. The unions' unreasonable demands for apprentices to be paid the same as an experienced employee had bankrupted a lot of companies. Under Maggie new ones grew.

8 January 2012 at 22:54  
Blogger Manfarang said...

I saw the trailer of this film when I went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,I think that was enough as I saw much of the play.
Thatcher was more of a National Liberal than a Tory.
Do you remember the National Liberals anyone? At the end of the 1960s the National Liberals were dissolved having completely become part of the Conservative Party.
One good thing from the Thatcher era was the bucket shops which allowed Britons to escape Britain.
Thatcher will go down in history just as Admiral Horthy did.

9 January 2012 at 02:36  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Margaret Thatcher should have a good Methodist send off when the time comes but that day is a long way off.
Margaret Thatcher I raise a glass of Wincarnis to you.

9 January 2012 at 02:48  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you for the comments, Your Grace. The first is, indeed, consistent with one or two traditional models of Christian rhetoric.

As the second, and your picture, can illustrate, too --- 'personas' are at work.

I wouldn't be able to sit through the film, because a)Streep only ever acts the actress Streep b) the actress Thatcher was not Margaret the Queen, whose mask she donned.

Like other women of her origin, type, culture, and education: Thatcher had the character and ability to make a good job of any undertaking. However, when it got to Poll Tax time, perhaps she'd begun to lose touch both with her roots and with reality.

9 January 2012 at 04:54  
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9 January 2012 at 07:52  
Blogger Span Ows said...


"What Maggie did to the mining communities was just plain wrong. Cannot be justified."

Sadly Sir, one must agree. It just lacks integrity. The spiv in charge is most to blame."

I can only presume you are playing Devil's advocate on purpose. Both the above comments are patent nonsense; unless of course you've just woken from a coma and you mean Blair (in the 2nd quote)

Word verification: inity, surely perfect to describe Blair's Britain.

9 January 2012 at 09:20  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Corrigan @ 20.15, a little of what you fancy does you good. It's all a question of degree, and your apparently puritan position surprises.

Your suggestion that Thatcher was a hippy is anachronistic; she was born in 1925, not 1945. Her political views were formed in the 1930s and 1940s.

If you live in an area where seeing the film now will cause you to become a social pariah, wait for the DVD, it's a fascinating study.

9 January 2012 at 10:11  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Bluedog, perhaps a better way of putting the case is that both Thatcher and the hippies grew from the same root: the me-me tree.

9 January 2012 at 14:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Span Ows.

Don’t get the Inspector wrong. Margaret Thatcher was a first rate PM in most areas, but what she did to the mining communities is something you only do to your countries ENEMIES, not your own people, for God’s sake.

As for the political researcher turned current PM, the Inspector realises that he is in coalition, but see the Archbishop’s next thread, the Inspector couldn’t have put it better himself…

9 January 2012 at 18:21  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Corrigan @ 14.10, no, no. See the film; Thatcher explicitly talks in terms of 'service', there is no such altruism in the hippy ethos. Her own ascent to power was apparently un-premeditated and came at the urging of supporters. She is quoted as saying politics is all about principles and ideas. Words one will hear from Dave the day hell freezes over. Thatcher's political philosophy was developed firstly in her father's shop and then at Oxford where she read the 'Road to Serfdom' by Hayek.

It is possible Dave's defence of the Union may prove me wrong, hope so. Just 29% of Scots favour independence according to a poll in the Glasgow Herald. Wee Eck underestimates the intelligence of the Scottish electorate.

9 January 2012 at 20:12  
Blogger Span Ows said...

OIG, no worries, I know....perhaps if you'd said "The spiv in charge is partly to blame": the debt, interest and spending were all going to increase for a few years no matter what anyone did.

Re Thatcher, the mining communities had decades of decline before Thatcher was anywhere near PM. an example: peak year for South Wales in terms of manpower and production was 1915. Miners left their communities to work in the towns and bigger pits down the valleys years before Margaret Thatcher was born. UK nationalisation was in 1945, this "did not prevent the long, steady decline of the coal mining industry in Britain nor prevent on-going pit closures. Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s the decline continued."

9 January 2012 at 22:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Span Ows. The Inspector has in the past argued that British coal IS CHEAPER THAN foreign coal costs + Unemployment Benefit for British miners + lost associated home based mining associated industries + lost tax, national insurance from said British miners + lost local enterprise + lost future work for the young + grants to ‘reinvigorate’ a deprived area.

Put it this way. Why bother to continue to drain the Fens or the Somerset levels. Save the pumping money. Let the people there go to hell, and the farming can be done elsewhere. That’s what Maggie’s attitude was.

Agreed, the mining industry was on the decline, but you don’t switch it off in the mid 1980s. It was vindictive and brutal.

Remember this, Maggie only agreed to stand after her mentor, Keith Joseph, declined. She wasn’t a natural leader. And another thing, it takes a MAN of principle to carry policy through, not a woman. She was eventually knifed over the poll tax – no man would have allowed himself to get into that situation...

9 January 2012 at 22:50  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Bluedog, you DO understand that this is a movie, right? I mean, it isn't real. Thatcher quoted Francis of Assisi on her first day in office; does that make her a saint?

9 January 2012 at 22:54  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...


The rights and wrongs about the coal mining industry aside, and I think you do have some valid points, someone had to shut Arthur up! Imagine if she had backed down in the face of his bully boy tactics. That's the real legacy - isn't it?

9 January 2012 at 23:44  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Thatcher's political philosophy was developed firstly in her father's shop and then at Oxford where she read the 'Road to Serfdom' by Hayek.

The hippees of the 60's were characterized by a rejection of authority as well as the concomitant responsibilities and obligations imposed by authority. They assumed a condition of perpetual prosperity, and demanded (ironically enough) an obligation of 'society' to let them do as they wished. It was in fact a long adolescent whine dragged into adulthood. This is a far cry from Hayek. It takes a special form of mental gymnastic to find common cause between between Haight-Ashbury and Vienna.

Unless of course all this talk of 'responsibility' is a coded way of saying 'collective action through the agency of the government.' There are many ways to fulfill one's responsibility besides government action financed by confiscatory taxation. It is wrong to equate Hayek with the wooden self-interested materialism of Ayn Rand.


10 January 2012 at 00:04  
Blogger bluedog said...

Thank you, Mr Carl Jacobs @ 00.34.

One cannot imagine Lady Thatcher smoking a joint or dropping acid, at any time in her life. Louise Mensch she isn't.

And yes, Mr Corrigan, it's a film, but due to the nature of the subject it is evident that great care was taken to ensure accuracy of contained facts. As to dialogue, obviously many important potential witnesses are now dead, or would have died had they not been murdered. Airey Neave comes to mind, God rest his soul.

Seen it yet?

10 January 2012 at 12:09  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo. Now you're not suggesting the government was intimidated by one man ? Scargill had split his union with his undemocratic ways – he’d lost support. It was the American monetarist advisors who did for the coal industry. But we can’t blame them; they were asked their advice and they gave it. It was Maggie.

10 January 2012 at 18:15  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


If the mines had never been nationalized, then the economic trauma of closing the mines would not have been so severe. The Government runs a business according to poltical interests. It finds the task of making rational economic decisions inhibited by powerful political interests. But governments cannot repeal the laws of economics. The subsidies provided to purchase political peace eventually become prohibitive. The delay brought about by political influence only makes the final recoking that much worse. Don't blame Mrs Thatcher for having to finally address a problem that should and could have been handled with far less pain if only better economic decisions had been made by prior governments.

This is the problem that General Motors will face, btw. Obama's United Auto Worker's Employment Protection Act will not inprove the quality or desireability of GM cars. It will only keep GM union workers on the lines a little while longer. To regain competitiveness, GM has to restructure its relationship with the UAW. Otherwise, it is facing the same future of the British coal mines. Because subsidy or not, there is no way I am ever buying a GM product, and I am not alone. You can only build so many cars that nobody wants to buy. Just like you can only mine so much coal that nobody wants to buy.


10 January 2012 at 18:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl. Agreed. Mrs Thatcher should have privatised the coal industry. Yes there would have been tremendous opposition by the National Union of Miners, but that is what government is all about - finding a solution to impose it’s decision. Right then, how to do it. It would have occurred at a time when other nationalised industries were being sold off, so it wouldn’t have come as a shock. And the master stroke, make every miner a shareholder. Then sell the rest off to private investment. You say you can only mine so much coal that nobody wants to buy. That’s right. We have to import some of it now through the port of Bristol, rail it on and burn it at power stations. What was wrong with the Rhondda coal we used to use ?

You are a very good analyst of a situation, but cold with it, and although the Inspector agrees with ninety per cent of what you post, you are no politician. We are talking of people here. ‘One Nation Conservatism’ will keep the people sweet. The mines closure was nothing like it and the effects of it will never be forgotten by the victims, their children and maybe even their grand children...

10 January 2012 at 19:37  
Blogger bluedog said...

Precisely, Mr Carl @ 18.50.

Mr Inspector, as this communicant has said before, the key to business success is to achieve a return on capital employed in excess of the weighted average cost of capital. This arithmetic applies as much to the UK Government as it does to you. The nationalised industries were failed businesses by every metric by the time Thatcher came to power and existed only as sheltered workshops for the trade union movement and Labour Party membership. All other Britons, yourself included, were subsidising these schemes. You have previously pointed to the multiplier effect as justification for uneconomic mines etc. How do you make benefit by gloriously multiplying losses?

Why do you resent Thatcher's decision to stop you being robbed by organised labour?

A strange sentimentality indeed.

10 January 2012 at 19:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog. The Inspector is not sure whether his post of 10 January 2012 19:37 was available to you when you posted yours at 10 January 2012 19:47. Let him know if that was the case...

10 January 2012 at 20:40  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I was interested to hear "The Iron Lady" got a PG12 rating. Apparently
it's not suitable for miners.

10 January 2012 at 20:47  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

A Coal Miner Dies

A Coal Miner dies, and goes to Heaven. While he is outside, waiting for Saint Peter to open the gates, he hears laughter and cheering and a brass band playing. When he is admitted, he asks "Is the cheering and the band for me? I am only a coal miner."

Saint Peter looks at him kindly. "Nay, lad - we get coal miners here every week."

"This is for a Tory Cabinet Minister. We are making a celebration of it because no-one can remember the last time we had one!"

10 January 2012 at 21:11  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Inspector @ 20.40, our posts did indeed cross in the ether. You make a fair point, but what is the value of a share in an uneconomic coal mine that depends on tax-payer subsidies?

The mining communities tended to have an introverted and macho culture. Closing them down was always going to be politically fraught. Thatcher talked of providing a safety net, but the loss of community is a qualiatitive event for which no financial compensation is possible. This is the problem you identify.

Not all mining families appear embittered. Aren't we told that the Duchess of Cambridge descends from Geordie mining stock?

10 January 2012 at 22:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog. The Inspector believes in minimal government. Once the coal mines were transferred to the private sphere, end of problem as far as the government was concerned. Incidentally, millions of pounds worth of plant were down them; they could and should have been sold on as going concerns. But alas, small minded revenge tactics resulting from events ten years earlier were more attractive...

10 January 2012 at 22:24  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Inspector, the mining unions had taken it upon themselves to cripple the British economy in order to further their own selfish interests. The miners risk assessment in doing this was deficient in that they failed to consider the counter-measures available to their bosses, the British Government. If you dish it out, expect to take it. Macho types playing victim do not convince.

The court of public opinion as expressed in the ballot box showed that the electorate supported Thatcher, not the NUM.

Thatcher, of course, was never rejected by the electorate, only by the Conservative Wets. Whereupon the electorate rejected the Wets.

10 January 2012 at 23:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


you are no politician.

That's ... [sniff] ... one of the nicest things .. [sniff sniff] ...anyone has ever said to me. Truly. My formative experiences were all in Uniform. I have a decidedly military mind. It's one of my acknowledged biases. We don't consider 'politician' to be a positive title.

Right then, how to do it. It would have occurred at a time when other nationalised industries were being sold off, so it wouldn’t have come as a shock. And the master stroke, make every miner a shareholder. Then sell the rest off to private investment.

Who would have purchased those mines? They weren't going to magically become profitable simply because a private agent chose to purchase them. They were obsolete and staffed by a hostile angry militant workforce that had used its political power to keep the mines open in the face of unprofitability. The draconian actions required to make the mines profitable (if indeed they could have been made profitable) would simply have focused the rage of the workforce onto the new owners. The miners weren't interested in stock. They weren't interested in shifting market demand for coal. They were interested in guaranteed employment divorced from economic reality. They wanted their income subsidized for no other reason than they felt entitled to the subsidy. And why should they have been so privileged? Who would have accepted the risk to take on that fight?

What was wrong with the Rhondda coal we used to use ?

You should ask the customers who would rather not purchase it. It is one thing to say 'Our coal would be cheaper if you account for X,Y, and Z." But the customer base didn't think so. Forcing them to purchase expensive coal has hidden effects. One is an incentive to move away from coal. Another is higher costs the make the business less competitive. Job losses from subsidies are hidden but no less real. The miners who would have kept their jobs did not account for (or care about) the downstream impacts. They simply wanted their lives to go on unimpeded. But the government has to take account of those down stream effects. It's not just the visible, but the invisible that has to be addressed.


11 January 2012 at 01:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl. We don't consider 'politician' to be a positive title.. Astute comment Sir. You are eminently qualified to comment on the British scene.

And also to Bluedog now.

You both put up a case which excludes the people concerned. What is politics if you take away the people. A mere couple of years earlier, the UK went to war with Argentina at great expense and cost in human life for the sake of the Falkland Islands people. Yet no such consideration was shown to the miners and their families. How on earth does that stand up ?

Mrs Thatcher’s government was notable not just for selling off what were considered state assets, but also for what was considered knock down prices. Some of the coal industry DID survive and make it into private ownership, though obviously not enough.

For your benefit Carl, the Inspector reprints his formula. That’s the true cost of what happened, and not Bolivian coal being only half as costly per bag as British.

British coal IS CHEAPER THAN foreign coal costs + Unemployment Benefit for British miners + lost associated home based mining associated industries + lost tax, national insurance from said British miners + lost local enterprise + lost future work for the young + grants to ‘reinvigorate’ a deprived area.

Finally, and this applies to all reading this post in employment who agree with you two. Just for jolly, ask to see your MD. Point out to him if the firm relocates everything, including your job to, let’s say India, substantial increases in profit will occur. Watch him delight as you inform him that there are Indian graduates prepared to do everyone’s job at one quarter the rates being paid now. Probably not a good idea is it, but then again, it’s fine to do it to miners.

11 January 2012 at 13:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


You both put up a case which excludes the people concerned.

More people were concerned than just miners. The people who would lose work because of expensive coal must also be considered.

A mere couple of years earlier, the UK went to war with Argentina at great expense and cost in human life for the sake of the Falkland Islands people. Yet no such consideration was shown to the miners and their families. How on earth does that stand up?

Nations don't go to war over people. They go to war over interests. The British interest in the Falklands was its sovereignty. Therefore, the two situations are not analogous.

Mrs Thatcher’s government was notable not just for selling off what were considered state assets, but also for what was considered knock down prices.

What kind of price do you think she could have gotten for a failed concern? It is the market that assigns value. If people won't purchase it, then it isn't valuable no matter how much intrinsic worth you might think it possesses. The buyer is interested in return on investment.

British coal IS CHEAPER THAN foreign coal costs + [a bunch of social costs]

Cheaper to whom? The question you don't answer in this equation is "Who bears the cost?" It is certainly not cheaper to the business that directly consumes the coal. That's why they don't want to buy it. If the government artificially subsidizes the price of coal, then the cost is distributed among tax payers. People who are not working in the coal industry subsidize the wages of those who do. Why should workers in the coal industry be so privileged? What economic benefit is derived from maintaining an obsolete coal industry at the expense of the rest of the economy. You are essentially arguing that it is better to have people employed in an unprofitable occupation rather than have them unemployed living off the dole. Except your coal industry has become a de facto welfare program for a very specific group of people. Far better to let the market to reallocate resources and enable people to adapt.

Watch him delight as you inform him that there are Indian graduates prepared to do everyone’s job at one quarter the rates being paid now.

Who told you that your standard of living must never decrease? When did it become a violation of the natural order for people in other parts of the world to compete on the basis of price? We don't have a right to prosperity. We have a right to what we can command in the market. Nothing more. Nothing less.


11 January 2012 at 19:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl. Your last point first. (...Inspector immediately on the higher ground then...)...

Who told you that your standard of living must never decrease? When did it become a violation of the natural order for people in other parts of the world to compete on the basis of price? We don't have a right to prosperity. We have a right to what we can command in the market. Nothing more. Nothing less.

To paraphrase your compatriots in America, “what kind of dumb ass comment is that ?”. Whose side are you on Carl ? We all thought the west, but apparently we can no longer count on your erstwhile support. What’s going on, this pure unfettered capitalist economics you are coming out with. Rather thought we’d given that tosh the boot a hundred years ago.

Again to paraphrase another of your compatriots, Mark Twain, “the rumours of the death of the UK coal industry has been greatly exaggerated”.

It is a nations duty to survive and PROSPER. Prosperity does not come with letting other countries do something you can do yourself. And to subject a part of society, the mining community, to abandonment is political suicide, though we know you are not a politician. It causes deep resentment, sedition. And when a group of people goes to bed hungry and cold, you have the makings of revolution.

You have the Inspector going, don’t you know. Please inform him if your last post was a piece of mischief designed to wind him up. It has !

WV = ‘ephable’. Really ! Have sent screen print to friend Marie1797 to verify...

11 January 2012 at 20:10  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Inspector @ 13.24 said 'You both put up a case which excludes the people concerned.' and at 20.10 dug himself even deeper into the hole.

Time for economics 101.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in open and liberal economies such as the UK, economic competition is a good thing. Competition policy is designed to ensure that all economic participants have an even chance and that control of the means of production does not fall into the hands of any one player. Competition is a mechanism for increasing productivity, or output per unit, in the economy. Again, this is an measure of increasing economic efficiency - a good thing. Consider now the trade union movement which is explicitly designed to control both the supply and the price of labour by means of a labour market monopoly. This is the very antithesis of the competition needed in an open economy and only benefits the unions, not the wider electorate. The wider electorate includes you, Mr Inspector.

Consider the particular case of the nationalsed British coal industry before Thatcher. The mines were all owned by the National Coal Board (a monopoly supplier) and the labour was all supplied by the National Union of Miners, another monopoly. At the time almost all base load power in the UK national grid (another monopoly) was generated by coal-fired power stations. So it doesn't take much imagination to see that the NUM have virtually unlimited power by virtue of right of veto on the supply of labour to this cascade of monopolies.

Consider what happens when the NUM want better terms and conditions. Remember, they don't just control the price of labour, but they also control the supply, so they dictate the work practices too. The outcome of any NUM claim is a foregone conclusion. The NCB management are always going to cave in to maintain production irrespective of cost. Their jobs depend on raw production figures, not profitable production. After all, profits are evil manifestations of capitalism so we don't want that, do we? As to productivity per man per hour, don't even think about it. If the NCB show a streak of responsibility, ring the minister. If there is a Labour government which has been energetically financed and supported by the union movement, the brothers win again. If there is a Tory government run by an old poof like Traitor Heath, show 'em whose boss.

And you really support these 'people' and this economic system?

Mr Inspector, you are truly a turkey who will vote for Christmas. It sadly seems that you can't recognise your own interest. The consumer and voter from heaven.

11 January 2012 at 22:04  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...


There should never have been an agricultural revolution. Think of the poor farmers uprooted as farming changed. Communities devasted and people impoverished. They headed for the cities and facilitated the industrial revolution.

To what extent should states attempt to manage transitions in the economy? Isn't that the significant issue at point? Social upheaval inevitably accompanies economic change. Britain had to make choices in the 1980's about the relationship between the state and industry. Should the state own key industries? It also had to determine the right balance between supporting failing industries and sustaining social welfare.

Thatcher changed British politics because 'old' Labour had to go as she rewrote the script of the states role and 'new' Labour accepted it.

"Nations don't go to war over people. They go to war over interests.

You're such a cynic! Surely its a balance of interests and people? It's a first duty of all states to protect its people throughout the world. Sovereignty is a responsibility as well as a right. Added to that in the Falklands is the oil and mineral interests.

I think Thatcher would have gone to war without the latter being a factor. That's the sort of Iron Lady she was.

11 January 2012 at 22:14  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Whose side are you on

I am trying to be objective in the face of self-interest. You cannot repeal the laws of economics anymore than the miners could do so. Why is there no longer a garment industry in the US? Because evil capitalists wanted to make higher profits? No. Because typical consumers wouldn't purchase garments made in the US because of price. It was either move manufacturing or go bankrupt.

So how would you prevent this? Would you impose a huge tariff on certain items in order to protect your own producers? But your own economy is heavily dependent upon foreign trade. It would start a catastrophic trade war. And what would you do but raise the cost of your own goods and services? The marginal money spent on shirts is no longer available to be spent on other products. What you want is for the world economy to be organized to first benefit your own country. Well, everyone wants that. You can only guarantee it by force.

Prosperity never comes from protection. If you want it, you have to earn it. The difficulty comes when people who are prosperous (say, the West) become complacent and take that prosperity for granted. They get fat and lazy and entitled. Then along come other countries (say China) with populations that are willing to work hard because they know hardship. It creates a competitive advantage they are capable of exploiting.

You can whine and fret about it. You can send in the Army and conquer your economic competitor. Or you can work hard to overcome it perhaps at the cost of your standard of living. What you can't do is say "Hey you! China! Stay poor so we can be rich." They won't listen.


12 January 2012 at 04:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


You're such a cynic!

No, I am a realist.

I am only cynical about journalists. And lawyers. I am only cynical about journalists and lawyers. I suppose advertisers as well. I am only cynical about journalists and lawyers and advertisers. Did I mention people who call me on the phone to sell me things? Them too.


12 January 2012 at 04:35  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Oh. And those sleazy hippies who fashion themselves as "Occupy [Some place with free food where I can pretend I am an important activist changing the world instead of just a sleazy hippie who needs a bath and a haircut and should probably find a job]" I lean towards the cynical side where they are concerned as well.


12 January 2012 at 04:43  
Blogger C.Law said...

Carl and Bluedog,

You are both undoubtably correct as to the economics of the situation, however The Inspector is right to point out the social element.

Many of the coal mines were the major employer in the, aptly named, mining towns. While the Thatcher Govt may have been economically correct to cut support to the mines it was their responsibility to mitigate the social effects of the majority of workers in those towns being laid off at the same time. This they signally failed to do. Their way of dealing with the economic problem turned entire towns, indeed regions, into social wastelands. What has the economic coat to the Govt of that been? Was it really better than continuing to subsidize the mines until they had worked out a way to deal with the problem with fewer adverse effects? Dealing with one problem by causing another is not productive, whatever your economic or political beliefs.

[WV: noughte - I kid you not!]

12 January 2012 at 07:54  
Blogger bluedog said...

'Dealing with one problem by causing another is not productive, whatever your economic or political beliefs.' Wise words indeed, Mr C.Law.

Fortunately in this instance the problems faced by the membership of the NUM and their communities were relatively limited in terms of their impact on the broader British economy. Once the NUM power structure was collapsed by Thatcher, the NUM's former leverage worked in reverse. A case of live by the sword, die by the sword.

As an aside, but highly relevant in the view of this communicant, it is impossible to ignore the influence of Jack Jones CH MBE during this period. If you are not aware of Jones biography it is worthy of study. Jones was the last of a generation who were highly influenced by the Spanish Civil War, in which he served as a political commisar in the British Battalion (Major Atlee Company) of the International Brigade. The significance of this appointment in Jones life cannot be underestimated and he remains a hero in certain Liverpool circles, to this day. A political commissar such as Jones would have had a hotline to Comintern, the chief financial and political sponsor of the International Brigade. A former KGB spy who defected to the West reported that Jones was in the pay of the Soviets as late the 1980s. As the Cold War was reaching it's climax during the 1970s and 1980s, it is not unreasonable to assume that Jack Jones, then president of the TUC, was at the very least a Soviet agent of influence. Bear in mind too that the NUM agitation peaked at precisely the time the Northern Ireland troubles were at their worst. Coincidence?

So let's not get all mushy about the poor old members of the NUM. They were useful idiots in a titanic struggle between the West and a foreign power; trouble was, they backed the wrong horse. What the NUM did in the 1970s was of direct benefit to the Soviet Union, not the United Kingdom.

The British Government acted with commendable restraint.

12 January 2012 at 10:09  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ah, more “ephable” comments to deal with !

Who was that who mentioned ‘competition’. You are quite barking Sir. You can’t compete with countries that pay their workforce merely enough to stay alive ( indeed the UK did 100 years ago…), or are heavily subsidised by their state to provide a loss leader or dumping situation.. UK manufacturing has learnt that ! And for the end result of lovely competition, we have China. The world owes them so much money for their ‘competitive’ goods, they are walking on the stuff. It’s sticking to their shoes !

And this business about economics. Economics is your slave, not your master. Use it as a tool, but don’t let it dictate EVERYTHING to you; you have a God given intellect to overcome problems.

Incidentally, everyone’s favourite hate figure Scargill was on his way down. He wouldn’t have had a union left eventually, the workforce would have gone over to the Democratic Union of Miners.

With that out of the way, let’s try a different perspective. This is a Christian site, so how about some Christian concern for our fellow brothers, the miners. The attempt to portray them as Old Testament Samaritans is distasteful. (Remember the Samaritans. Loathed to a man, when just one of them showed some human kindness, it made it into the Bible !). We look after our own, Gentlemen. Any attempt to portray them other than proud hardworking fearless workers will be met with stern rebuke by the Inspector. He can promise you that !

12 January 2012 at 18:46  
Blogger bluedog said...

Rebuke away, Mr Inspector. If the proud hardworking fearless workers are lead by men who are in the pay of a hostile power, why should one support them too? They have made their bed, let them lie in it. The British government owes a duty to the majority of the electorate, not to its enemies, even though they may be within. Of course if these internal enemies see the error of their ways and repent, allow them forgiveness.

China succeeds , good sir, through the practice of mercantilism which you yourself embrace, see your comment @ 20.10, 'Prosperity does not come with letting other countries do something you can do yourself'. This statement falls down where other countries do something so much cheaper and better that it is to your own advatage to buy from them. An idea desvribed as 'comparative advantage'.

This communicant hopes that in the context of this debate, Christianity is not the last refuge of a scoundrel!

12 January 2012 at 19:52  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog. ‘Scoundrel’ ! You wound the Inspector, Sir !

And all this about Jack Jones. Even if it is true, you should know this about the Intelligent services of both East and West. These professionals considered it all a game. We get one of yours, you get one of ours. We’ll do a swap. We won’t get all your agents, but then again you won’t get all ours. And do you know the most dangerous situation of all ? When one power didn’t know what the other was up to. That’s when mistrust and paranoia sets in. These agents ‘for the other side’ actually kept the bombs from falling. What a paradox !

Everything else the Inspector has posted, he stands by...

12 January 2012 at 21:02  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Wonderful comments by all. Really good. I would like to make a comment on the only thing that seems still in dispute, the social side of things. I think we are looking at too short a time frame for recovery (see later). I mentioned high-up-the-valley mines closing as people went to the bigger mines near towns and cities; someone else commented the same about farm workers (and what about wool industry, textiles etc another example, what about wooden shipbuilders!) Anyway, efforts were made to soothe the transition, miners were encouraged with reasonable redundancy packages (money and training), many older miners took advantage to get out once and for all. Look now at the areas where by 1994 or thereabouts things had moved on; regeneration of most of those areas: Notts and Derbyshire, the East Midlands is very prosperous now. Efforts were made but, it must be said a few villages and towns were dropped by the wayside, 3 or 4 still remain poor areas; OK, OIG, maybe more could have been done but overall the government did much more than people recall/give them credit for.

14 January 2012 at 08:55  

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