Socialist Worker

Myths and reality of Thatcherism - a response to Bob Fotheringham

by Neil Davidson
Issue No. 2166

I’m not clear what “myth” Bob Fotheringham thinks he is challenging here. I agree that Thatcher was always deeply unpopular with most of the working class and was highly vulnerable down to the defeat of the Great Miners’ Strike – points in my original article. It is not helpful, however, to underestimate our enemies or refuse to recognise their achievements for the capitalist class, which in Thatcher’s case were considerable.

Above all, she presided over a massive increase in the rate of exploitation of labour which was achieved on the back of a very serious defeat of the movement from which we are only recovering now.

Thatcher was brought down by working class insurgency, but the trade unions were only minor players. This is indicative of her success in forcing the organised labour movement onto the defensive. It is also one of the reasons why the ruling class was prepared to ditch Thatcher’s tactics in favour of the “social neoliberal” ones of Blair and Brown.

Finally, the leadership I was calling for was not at the top of the Labour Party or the trade unions, but from within the working class itself – the need for which we are both agreed.

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Tue 25 Aug 2009, 19:23 BST
Issue No. 2166
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