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Nostalgic for Thatcher and Reagan

July 7th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

If you went back to the mid-80s and told me that one day I would be nostalgic for Reagan and Thatcher  in another 35 years I would have refused to believe it, but here we are and we have a president of the US I would swap for Reagan in a heartbeat and a British PM who makes Thatcher look good.It turns out that history has been kinder to Reagan than I could have imagined in 1985. You can disagree with him on matters of ideology, but at least he had one, and his position on civil rights and racial discrimination was liberal by the standards of a lot of America today, let alone back then.

Thatcher was far from perfect, obviously, but you can’t help thinking that if she was in charge this year instead of the buffoon Johnson we would almost certainly have had thousands or tens of thousands fewer deaths from Covid-19. I expect she would have decided what to do back in January or February and then would have stuck to it, regardless of the impact on her personal popularity. Johnson just wants to be liked and thinks that joking and bluffing his way through everything is enough. He doesn’t mind being a loveable rogue because he only cares about the loveable part of that.

Thatcher famously had no sense of humour and really lacked any appearance of the human touch. In retrospect maybe that is more appropriate than being a superficial clown. I reckon she would have stopped people coming into the country, or had them forcibly quarantined when it mattered (i.e. before we had any major outbreaks) rather than having vague self-quarantine with no enforcement when our infection levels are higher than nearly everywhere else. I think she would have stopped major events too, certainly before Cheltenham and Twickenham, and if we had gone into lockdown it would have been more like Spain, with few exceptions and loopholes. And it would have been enforced by the police and military the way they did in France.

She would have been hated for it all of course, and not just by those of us who would have hated her anyway. By the summer she would have been forced out, after a death toll a quarter or less of what Johnson is hailing as a great success.

One thing that sets Reagan and Thatcher apart from Trump and Johnson is that despite their many, many faults they arrived at their jobs through hard work. Neither of them started with a huge cushion of wealth like Trump or an overbearing sense of entitlement like Johnson. Trump knew he would be rich from the moment he knew anything. Johnson knew he would be in charge of something while he was still at prep school; it was expected. Expected by him and expected by his family.

Compared to the current incumbents, Reagan and Thatcher both had some morals. I really can’t see Trump or Johnson putting anything above themselves, and the worst of it is that they don’t even seem to hide it.

No way am I going to forgive Reagan for making us permanently petrified of nuclear war through the 80s, for the Iran-Contra business, Nicaragua, or many other things. Likewise I can’t forgive or forget Thatcher’s destruction of British manufacturing, council housing, Section 28 and all the rest. It really shows how bad Trump and ‘Britain Trump’ are that they make Ronnie and Maggie start to look good in comparison!

For an 80s leftie this is one of the more depressing things about 2020 – realising that not only could there be worse leaders of the US and UK than we had then, but that we actually have them.

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