Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher - A Necessary Evil

As the present 33-year Saturn / Pluto cycle plays out its most critical end, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, one of Britain’s most notable Prime Ministers, passed away on 9th April 2013 in the Ritz Hotel London. By the time of the new Saturn / Pluto conjunction on 12 January 2020, we will know how the next 33-year cycle is likely to unfold. There is much to play for and those who sit back and do nothing may wish to consider the legacy that Mrs Thatcher’s vision of the future left us. Certainly if you listen to the partisan critics at this time, the UK is deeply divided in its perspective.

The UK is once again divided in its perspective about what Mrs Thatcher did for / to the country during her reign as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.

To understand what I mean when speaking of the Saturn / Pluto cycle, here is a crude analogy; Saturn structures our society and Pluto destroys the old, outmoded and anything that no longer works.

The Saturn / Pluto conjunction of Oct 1914 saw the start of what was then the Great War (WWI). When Saturn returned to to the position of that conjunction in July 1944, it had been demonstrated graphically that the global mindset during this period had to change drastically. Consequently when the war ended in 1945 there was a tremendous amount to be sorted out. In some cases there are choices made between 1914 - 1947 that remain unresolved.

When the Saturn / Pluto cycle of 1947 saw us coming out of World War II and on the road to rebuilding ourselves, industries were nationalised and lands were structured. The National Health Service was introduced, The Disabled Persons at Work Act and various Welfare Benefits. Change was unstoppable and tension was already beginning that would lead to the India / Pakistan partition, Israel declared independence (1948) and lands throughout the middle East, Europe and Asia divvied up between France, Russia, China, UK and USA; the founder member of the United Nations. It was also the start of the Cold War (1947 - 1991)

By 1976 (this is when Saturn reached the degree area of the 1947 conjunction) the world had changed beyond recognition. Things were becoming computerised and supersonic. Unions had the capcity to bring down governments, as nationalised industry demanded more money when there was none to be had. Women started to fight for equal status with men. Oil and energy became the battlegrounds on which economies were fought. The ever growing recession and lack of spending was solved by the introduction of the credit card; the price of which we now find ourselves paying.

It was clear that the time had come once again for reform. The time had come to structure a new truth, a new paradigm that would sweep away the old, outworn models and bring in something new - an upgrade if you will. This was a time when those in positions of power could change the fate of a nation - even the world.

Mrs Thatcher led the Conservative party to power and maintained government from 1979 to 1991. So when the Saturn / Pluto cycle started anew in late 1982, changes were already in full swing and there was no going back.

Margaret Thatcher will be known for many things: the privatisation of nationalised industry, her defiance of unions and the curbing of their rights, the loosening of banking regulation, the right to buy for council houses without replenishing the stock, the infamous Poll Tax (abandoned) and unacceptably high unemployment. Opinion about all of these have divided the UK; those who praise her for her courage and those who despise her for the destruction she caused. What is certain is that she will be remembered.

What Margaret Thatcher built was almost the opposite of unions, closed shops and societies where there were strength in numbers. She promoted the notion that every individual had the right to get to the top and make as much money as possible irrespective of those at the bottom who were in no way intellectually capable of competing. The conservatives say that Mrs Thatcher made Great Britain great again. Others will say that there was another section of Great Britain that was separated by her and left behind to rot.

We knew that many things Mrs Thatcher introduced were falling apart by 2008 when the deregulated banks messed about with the world’s money and lost billions. Housing was in crisis because not enough were being built, people were in fuel poverty because of the ever increasing costs in addition to the profit being taken out, unemployment scaled new heights and debt among everyone became stratospheric. In the same way that nationalisation and the unions failed, so now had privatisation and economic growth halted in its tracks by the parsimonious attitudes of the rich corporations and individuals, unwilling to put money back into the system without the guarantee of immediate return.

Proponents of ‘Thatcherism’ argue forcefully that before Mrs Thatcher was ousted from power by her own people in 1990, that the reforms she had placed in motion when she was Prime Minister were so good that they were not changed by the incoming Labour government of 1997. On the other hand, it could be argued that it would have been impossible, if not foolish, to contemplate reversing policies and changes that had been entrenched for so many years. So going back was impossible and the need to go forward was therefore much more sensible and advantageous.

Opponents of Thatcherism will point to the unravelling of everything she set up. There is very little now of Thatcher’s policies that could be said to be working well. Even the Falkland Islands festers with unfinished business.

But as with most things, the truth is always somewhere in between the extreme perspectives. There were so many things in the mid 70s that not only had to change but would have died by itself and poisoned anything it touched if just left to rot. If the UK government still possessed nationalised industries like coal, steel, British Telecom, British Gas, Electricity, Water etc, there would most likely have been a union meeting calling for a general strike that would have brought down the government over pay. Curiously in 2013 there are plans for a general strike in the UK but because the government no longer holds  these industries they can no longer be held to ransom.

Not everything had to be privatised though, and here it is that political ideology often supersedes common sense. It would have been prudent to hold onto essentials such as gas, electricity and water, or possibly convert the industries in to private ‘not-for-profit’ organisations. The banks should never have been deregulated to the point that banks could gamble so dangerously with our money, jeopardizing the private pensions of many and the future prosperity of the ordinary working person on a modest income.

So Margaret Thatcher made changes in the only way she knew how, and that was by the ideology of her convictions that, in this instance, favoured those with conservative political beliefs. And for that reason they will hail her as an inspiration. But as is always the case with pure conservatism, history has shown that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, so to those with labour or liberal political leanings she was evil and divisive. But for the people who hated her, the fact is that there were no other candidates offering something better at the time; and this is a lesson we should be considering in these last few years before the next conjunction in 2020.

One of the most significant changes that came about in the 1982 - 2020 Saturn / Pluto cycle is the computer. The capability of the computer was so great it facilitated much of the downfall of banks in 2008. But equally, the power of the Internet to open new channels in freedom of speech and the ability to organise large groups of individuals to agree collectively on a thought, a point and even an action, will facilitate the involvement of individuals to make their voices really count. It was the Internet that facilitated the Arab Spring in 2011 and it is within the social media that those not in positions of government can participate fully in deciding how our country - our world - is run in the future. This is a freedom worth protecting with considerable diligence.

So wether or not you support the changes Margaret Thatcher made, it has to be said that some changes definitely needed to be made. The difference between now and then is that we, the little people, only had the vote to make our voices heard. Today we have so much more and we should give ourselves an upgrade and become more integrated with the political programmes that affect so much of our lives. 

Without a viable alternative back in the 1970s, the policies of Margaret Thatcher, in my opinion, were a necessary evil. They were not right, because they left a whole section of the population behind, but it was better than the chaos we had. Mrs Thatcher did many things that were unpopular and unpleasant, but she established a structure that could be structured and controlled; for a while anyway.

In the end we are where we are now and the only way to move is forward. The question is whether we have the sagacity to bypass partisan politics and learn from past mistakes. Margaret Thatcher worked ceaselessly, with only three hours sleep, to get where she wanted to be. We, however, do not have to adopt her working practices, and often would not have the capacity to do so. But we do have to consider ourselves more involved in the politics of life and choose to participate in influencing the outcome of what we want to see - to be the change we want to see. The more we become willing participants, the less likely we will have no alternatives to a necessary evil.

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