‘“Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul,” Margaret Thatcher declared in 1981, revealing the way in which Thatcherism for her was always about transforming values rather than simply GDP,’ writes Eliza Filby in the Guardian. Filby has also recently published a book about Mrs T., called “God & Mrs Thatcher – The Battle for Britain’s Soul”.
It is clear that in this goal of “changing the soul”, the former prime minister failed (which she herself admitted, apparently: “I cut taxes and I thought we would get a giving society, and we haven’t”). However, her basic idea was not completely off the mark, for the conflict between individual freedom and serfdom is pre-eminently a religious one.
I haven’t read Filby’s book, and if her article is anything to go by, I probably won’t. Filby is not an economist but an historian with a degree from Durham. Predictably, she flunks on the economic causes of Thatcher’s failure.
‘Thatcherism laid the foundations for a culture in which individualism and self-reliance could thrive, but ultimately it created a culture in which only selfishness and excess were rewarded. Thatcher liked to quote John Wesley’s mantra, “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can,” and yet it was only ever the first instruction that was sufficiently encouraged.’
Yes Eliza, but why? Why was ‘saving’ not encouraged? And why not ‘giving’ either?