Friday, May 12, 2006

What it was like under Thatcher’s regime (2)

The worse thing about the Thatcher era was my car radio. The other worse thing was pretty much everything else. Especially her certainty; I think she did perhaps believe her infamous words: 'there is no alternative'.

Living in our wonderfully complex and bewildering universe, I find absolute certainty and simplistic solutions very unsettling. But these were her stock in trade. I know that politicians must sometimes sound more confident than they really are about their position but she pushed it to the limit. And the strident voice in which she explained everything to us lesser mortals was awful; patronising doesn't even start to describe her tone!

And that car radio; it would only receive long-wave so driving home I had a choice between Radio Four, some French stations or silence. I should have chosen the latter but I used to listen to PM instead. Only recently had sound broadcasting from Parliament been permitted; it wasn't yet on TV. So nearly every evening there were extracts from the day's business.

Prime Minister's Questions was on twice a week then (let no one tell you that Tony Blair has contempt for Parliament because he only does it once a week. His half-hour slot is far more effective than her two fifteen minute ones were. No one else could get a word in as she hardly needed to draw breath in those!). So at least twice a week I had to listen as she explained in that ghastly simpering voice how incredibly simple everything was and how wonderfully well her government was coping. And people believed her! How ever did I keep the car on the road in my fury?

In the next episode: what happened to compassion......


At 21:11, Blogger Aidan Brack said...

I've always found the argument that Blair's rejigging of Parliament into a single half hour of questioning somehow showed a contempt of Parliament to be somewhat ridiculous. As you point out - this way we have more time for the "meat" of the questioning.

To comment on your previous entry in this series (although very tangentically): here at Glasgow University the economics and politics building is named for Professor Adam Smith. It's dingy, leaking and falling apart. As lecturers have often remarked - people mistake the words "Scottish economist" for "miserly capitalist".

I think people are as blind to some of Smith's points for the same reason that people neglect the vast majority of John Stuart Mill's writing (concerning the role of women, the number of votes to be given to people with different degrees of education, etc); people accept what they want to accept and will not only reject but pretend that areas they disagree with do not exist.

Which is frustrating and ridiculous but all too predictable.

At 14:30, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Do you know if your University has approached the Adam Smith Institute for a grant to help refurbish the building? Unfortunately it would probably be in vain because, if their blog site is anything to go by, they take a depressingly simplistic view of life especially wrt standing on one's own feet!

You're absolutely right about selective quoting, I'm afraid I'm quite often guilty myself (although always in a good cause of course!)......

At 14:57, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really think that Thatcher had it all wrong then you deserve to stay with your crappy car radio. If you want to go back to the Closed Shop agreements then your car radio describes the quality of goods that we would have already stopped producing and current manufacturing would be a tiny fraction of what it is now. We would not be able to produce the wings of the A380, we would not have the intellectual capital we now have as joe the coal miner would be telling me what I could and could not do. You poor observations are typical from those who only place easy criticism but are unable to muster the brain power for an alternative. Try responsing to this with something of substance instead of your moaning drivel.


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