The British Primeminister Margaret Thatcher, Her Battle with the Left and Her Lasting Political Legacy

This article started life as a footnote to the larger article here:

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well” — Margaret Thatcher.

It is arguable that in the academy, Marxist or “critical theory” (Marxist analysis applied outside of its original economic context, i.e., no longer is it just economic relations that “alienate” humanity, but it is the “imbalance of power relations” in most spheres of life, e.g., sex, race, gender etc.) has been particularly strong in the Western academy since the 1960s.  Faculty and specifically tenured faculty (who then build a faculty around themselves consolidating and reinforcing their positions), have been unabashed in their advocation of Marxism in fields such as law, sociology, economics, and political science.  In a UK context, it was significant that one of the first significant reforms that Premier Thatcher [1] made in the early 1980s in her reform of Higher Education and her general battle with the “enemy within” (which to her was ‘socialism’), was to remove tenure of this kind.

She became famous the world over with the 1982 Falklands War that occurred close to the end of her first and tumultuous term,[2] which ended with the rapid defeat of the Argentinian forces.  She referred to this episode as “the defeat of the enemy without” and later commented, “that was easy, we then had to deal with the enemy within which was much harder”.  Her victory in the Falklands transformed the mood of the nation and triggered a patriotic outpouring which catapulted her to a second term which was very successful in slaying aspects of the socialist monster in British culture, and helped her to reshape it economically.

She had an overall strategy to dismantle the influence of the Marxist left in British politics and culture which had become increasingly powerful during the 1970s and reached a peak with union disruption in the “winter of discontent”, where in 1978–79, more than 2000 strikes erupted across Britain leading to dystopian scenes of rubbish piled high in major cities and corpses going unburied.  It is widely understood that Mrs Thatcher was elected in May 1979 as a public response to the disruption and led to a period of “Conservative” rule that lasted 18 years until 1997.[3]  During the first two terms of her three-term reign (the longest of any recent British premier), she attempted to dismantle restrictive working practices throughout British culture and obstructive union practices (such as ‘closed shops’) often in the public (government) sector, head on with substantial success.  Her reforms led to a period of great growth in the 1980s and defined the political agenda well into the 2000s.

In contrast, for the British Left in the aftermath of the loss of 1979, the large Marxist faction of the defeated Labour Party became particularly loud and vocal, blaming the defeat on the abandonment of socialist principles.  However, their influence was to be temporarily pushed into the background first with the ideological reforms of Neil Kinnock (1983-1992) and then the modernisation of John Smith (1992-1994), the latter removing the “bloc vote” of the Trade Unions at Party Conferences that had effectively hijacked the policy making process (even if the leadership ignored their stated policies once in government).  Smith was highly regarded even by his political adversaries (Mrs Thatcher paid a tribute to him following his premature death from a heart attack as the “Primeminister Britain never had”) and he shaped the thinking of the “New Labour” Party of Tony Blair (supported by “spin doctor” Peter Mandelson) who in 1994 became the second longest service British Prime minister (after Mrs Thatcher) for the period 1997-2007.

Blair had led a major “reform” of the British political Left, decoupling most of it from its Marxist heritage, incorporating individualistic rather than collectivist themes that had characterised the Thatcher programme, and moving them to the milder, centre social-democratic Left.   However, many on the activist Left were to say this had fundamentally betrayed the British Labour movement.  Following Blair’s resignation in 2007 after his support of Bush and the protracted second Gulf War had compromised the Party’s traditional support base on the Left, the party has struggled to find its identity with many craving a return to its radical socialist roots with a root and branch rejection of the Blair/Mandelson “New Labour” ideology that had the Thatcherite after-taste.

However, their New Labour “ideology” has been difficult to expunge, it was not just about ideas, but it was also an astute, pragmatic reform that had been designed to make the Labour Party “electable” by a more centrist electorate that was still living in the shadow of the Cold War and the collapse of the Communist bloc following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Mrs Thatcher had been so influential because she had understood something of the deep suspicion in the British psyche regarding the radical Left who were associated with political militancy, societal disruption, supporting (ideologically) the struggle of the ‘terrorist’ IRA, and had a reputation for coercion and bullying of even their own union members in the name of the “Greater Good”.  Perhaps the most dramatic struggle to illustrate this was the 1984-5 “Miner’s Strike”.  Objective accounts of it are now difficult to find as it has become part of Leftist mythology with the rewriting of the strike history and causes by a new generation of Leftists,[4] but the central issue was the economic reality that coal was costing more to extract than it was buying in the marketplace.

This was because of the aging pits of the British coalfields (some of which had been working since the Industrial Revolution) as well the move to cheap liquid fuels and gas, and nuclear power throughout Europe and the rest of the world, to which British coal, once a lifeline, was now expensive in contrast to competitors.  It was actually decisions by the NCB (National Coal Board) and the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board), nationalised and centralised authorities setup during the high watermark of British socialism after WWII, to close uneconomic mines, that provoked the strike.  It was not a decision of the “Thatcher government” though the Thatcher government strongly supported the NCB in the rationalisation of the sector which had been continuing since the major changes in the coal industry in 1974.  The radical Left leader of the union, Arthur Scargill, elected in 1982 as leader of the union, hardened dramatically the union position regarding closures of uneconomic pits.  He then refused to follow his own Union rule book and take a national ballot of members for national strike action and preferred strong arm psychological tactics and mass picketing of sites to forcibly support the strikes.[5]  The labelling of non-strikers as “scabs” and their ostracization by their own communities was encouraged by the union leadership.  However, the union members themselves, whenever they were balloted, refused to support national action by a large margin (the Notts coalfield voting 73% against supporting a national strike [6]); the union had been cooperating up to Scargill’s election with the closure of uneconomic pits in exchange for ongoing investment in the production of coal at a competitive rate.[7]  It was noted by the writer that there had been no compulsory redundancies from the pits up to the strike as the union, NCB and CEGB recognised the need to modernise the sector.

Thus, with the success of the monetarism of the Reagan-Thatcher era and this fall of communism, it meant there was little appetite for a return to the historical Marxist-socialist politics that had characterised the British Labour movement in the closing decade of the 20th century.  It was only with the protracted second Gulf War and the ultimate moral failure to demonstrate its legitimacy to much of British public, and particularly the Left, that the radical Left underwent a revival.  By 2015, following successive electoral defeats attempting unsuccessfully to peddle a modified Blairism, the Labour Party lurched radically to the Left once again under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn who was elected by Party activists in the wider national Labour Party despite the opposition of the parliamentary Labour Party for the period 2015-2020, openly advocating what would be called by the media “extreme Left” Marxist policies; it was, in fact, just a return to form for the heart of the Labour movement.

His tenure was tumultuous, with even a military general making a not so veiled threat at “intervention” if he was elected Primeminister (which looked likely at one point).  He was “overthrown” in an internal party “coup”, and he was eventually banned from even standing as a candidate for the Party over a row about antisemitism in the Party which indeed had been a persistent characteristic of some members on its Left who also happened to be his strongest supporters; guilt by association was a convenient battering ram of the conspirators in that case as Corbyn was not himself antisemitic.  Much as the US establishment (on both sides of the aisle) was/is now trying to do everything possible to remove Trump, the British establishment did everything possible to bury Corbyn.  Interestingly, the US Democratic Party and the UK Labour Party are now very similar ideologically as the Democratic party has moved steadily to the Left with its embracing of European style socialism.

To end this aside to the major article of which this article was once a footnote, it is particularly poignant for me that just this week the Victoria-Albert museum labelled Mrs Thatcher as akin to contemporary villains such as Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden.  The very obvious missed point other than the murderous and vicious (though perversely principled) character of these men, was that the British population voted [8] for Mrs Thatcher to give her three terms as Primeminister which had not occurred since 1822.  It is of major concern to me that a woman who considered Mrs Thatcher as her primary inspiration as a female politician, managed barely 49 days as a Premier suffering a coup at the hand of the British “Deep State”.[9]  George Orwell in his 1984 wrote how history was meticulously rewritten to meet the demands of the present, we must not allow this Leftist thinking to reestablish itself as the politics of choice; it promises liberty and freedom only to have the blood of at least 150 million on its hands, killed as the enemies of the State and the new Heaven on Earth.

Further Reading

McLaughlin, C. (2024, March 19). Culture Secretary has say on V&A labelling Margaret Thatcher a villain alongside Osama bin Laden. Retrieved from The Independent:

Metz, D. (2004, November 11). How the Miners’ Strike Was Lost. Retrieved from History Today:

Young, H. (2024, March 8). Margaret Thatcher – Biography & Facts. Retrieved from Britannica:


[1] Margaret Thatcher was British Premier from 4 May 1979 to 28 November 1990.  See for a synoptic (and generally fair) overview of her life and time in government.  It was significant that she was Europe’s first female Primeminister.

[2] There had been an outbreak of race-riots in 1981 in several UK cities stirred up by the radical Left in opposition to some of the unpopular policies of “spending cuts” and “welfare reforms”.  Her popularity had waned and it looked probable she might lose the new election; the whole mood of the country was dramatically transformed by the victory.

[3] She was “deposed” as Primeminister in an internal party rebellion against civil unrest that had been caused by the introduction of what was called “poll tax”.  This was widely conceived as being unfair to the poorer of society and a favour to the richer, property-owning Conservative Party donors.

[4] A simple google of “miner’s strike” will list various revisionist accounts becoming more extreme with each passing decade.  The earliest in the list that even attempts some objectivity (written 20 years after the event), is found here:  As the article points out

[5] The UK had suffered two similar strikes in the 1970s which had resulted in “victories” against the government as the power sector was still heavily dependent on coal.  I remember growing up and experiencing “power cuts” over the winter months during these strikes.  These were characterised by mass picketing of sites and the unwillingness of other union members in associated industries to cross picket lines.  In the 1984 strike, because of all the malfeasance surrounding the organisation of the strike, other union members were prepared to cross the picket lines and even at the peak of the strike, over 60 pits out of 170 were still working.  Coal stocks actually increased during the period of the strike and in March 1984 the strike was called off with no concessions won.  It did however rapidly increase the speed of closures.

[6] Some North Notts collieries did join the strike despite their own vote and were welcomed as “heroes” at striker’s rallies.  The line between supporters and those who continued to work was the Notts coalfield.

[7] This was a key element in the 1974 settlement which promised over 50m investment in return for closing of the uneconomic pits.  Investment in coal actually peaked later in the 1980s after the strike, before there was a major move to gas fired stations as environmental concerns also became more important.  It is of some interest that in response to the near exhaustion of capacity in the national grid in recent years and the problem of reliance on buying cheap gas from Russia which was exacerbated by the Ukraine war precipitating a “crisis”, there was approval granted to new deep coalmines and new surface mines, see and for more details on the new mine.

[8] Her opponents claimed the size of her majority (144 seat majority out of total seats of 650) was owing to the ‘first past the post’ voting system of the UK which amplifies the majority of seats a party can hold in the parliament, the Labour Party stopped objecting to the same voting system once it began to benefit from it (about 30 years into its history).  The largest ever majority was actually 145 gained by the Labour Party following WWII – if the victory of the Labour Party was indicative of the support of the people in 1945, Thatcher’s victory in 1983 was just as much an expression of popular support.

[9] Liz Truss made a speech at CPAC 2024 in which she describes that the governor of the Bank of England, who nominally worked for the government, could not be fired by the Primeminister but he could get her fired by stirring market instability; she referred to this as the “outsourcing of our democracy”.

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