Paying high price for Thatcher era

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 12:00am

What Fionnuala McHugh has witnessed on recent trips to Britain ('Blighted Blighty', South China Morning Post, April 6) is nothing less than the disintegration of society - the direct result of Margaret Thatcher's policies of 20 years ago when, having declared 'there is no such thing as society', she deliberately set out to abolish it.

With the adoption of Milton Friedman's crackpot economic theories, the Tory Government aimed to maximise profits everywhere, at whatever cost to society, widening the gap between rich and poor, driving down standards of public health and education, selling off state assets in its mania for privatisation and ignoring the needs of the weakest section of the community. All across the nation, from the inner cities to the crisis-ridden countryside, people are now reaping the whirlwind sown in the 18 years of Tory misrule.

At the time of the handover in 1997 (the one from Conservative to 'New' Labour), there was general euphoria that, at last, here was a chance to right the wrongs committed by the previous administration.

That mood soon evaporated, however, when it became clear Tony Blair and his cronies had no intention of doing any such thing but were content to continue along the policy lines they inherited.

Unsure at the time what plans the Communists in Beijing were cooking up for the SAR, I moved back to Britain briefly, but soon realised my mistake. 'New' Labour is a betrayal of everything the party once stood for, to the extent that the Liberal Democrats are now perceived as being the main radical party of the left.

Today's tragedy is that most voters appear to subscribe to another old Thatcherite mantra: 'There is no alternative'. Hence, although Mr Blair and company might be just as incompetent as their predecessors in power, they will win the next election - and that (it seems) is enough.


Wan Chai