BLUNDELL: Margaret Thatcher’s revolution

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The British people began to walk tall again because of her principled, firm and robust approach to foreign relations.

At great personal risk she started the process that has led to peace in Northern Ireland.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, helping him to tear down that wall without a shot fired, thus destroying the Evil Empire.

Overall, she ensured that all future British governments have to be much friendlier to the market than previously was the case. So what were the results?

Tax exiles such as Michael Caine returned. The United Kingdom jumped from 19th to second on the OECD list. Self-employment doubled from 7 percent to 14 percent of workers.

The British venture-capitalist industry, almost nonexistent in 1979, was twice the size of the European Economic Community’s entire industry within six years.

The middle class leapt from 33 percent to 50 percent of the population.

Homeownership leapt from 53 percent to 71 percent.

Ownership of stock went from 7 percent of the population to 23 percent, and among union members from 6 percent to 29 percent.

The percentage of workers in a union dropped from more than 50 percent to less than 20 percent.

And days lost to strikes per annum went from 29.5 million to 500,000.

It was a stunning transformation. Pre-Thatcher, a sclerotic, union-dominated economy was typified by surly service, rotten products and a craven business class. Post-Thatcher, even the institutionally far-left BBC has had to extend its news coverage of private business - such is the interest in capitalism on the part of employees, entrepreneurs and shareholders.

Service and quality have improved beyond one’s wildest dreams.

So today, we salute a great lady who put the “great” back into Great Britain.

John Blundell’s “Margaret Thatcher - A Portrait of the Iron Lady” was published by Algora late last year to explain Thatcherism to Americans. He is director general and Ralph Harris Fellow at London’s Institute of Economic Affairs.

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