Read Peter Hitchens, Repentant Thatcherite, Today 46

Excellent article by Peter Hitchens. Admitting fundamental error takes great courage and is always to be admired.

I have commended Peter Hitchens before. This upsets some of my readers, but I don’t care, which I suppose is what I have in common with Peter Hitchens.

I replied this morning to a comment on my last posting from a gentleman named Andrew, who said we should ditch loss making heavy industry and could live on highly profitable financial services. I am happy to say what struck me immediately was how old-fashioned this sounded. The zeitgeist has moved. We just have to be rid of a legacy government.

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46 thoughts on “Read Peter Hitchens, Repentant Thatcherite, Today

  • John Spencer-Davis

    “the essentials of life are harder to find than ever: a good life and an honest place; a solid, modest home big enough to house a small family in a peaceful, orderly landscape; good local schools open to all who need them; reasonably paid secure work for this generation and the next” (Peter Hitchens)

    It’s really not much to ask, is it? And it’s actually, all most people want (adding a decent health service). And in 21st century UK it is, apparently, impossible, for enormous numbers of people.

    So many people were fooled just like Hitchens, and there’s no shame in it and there’s no shame in waking up and looking around and thinking: “wtf have I been sold?” And I think this is starting to happen.

    • craig Post author

      It is also to his credit that Hitchens understands it through empathy rather than personal circumstance.

      • Phil the ex frog

        Repentant old twats who still want to run the country unite! You have nothing to loose except your past!

  • Alan

    I couldn’t believe I was seeing that in The Mail. I noticed too that they’re not allowing comments on the article. Obviously afraid too many would agree with him.

    • bevin

      My version of the article solicits comments underneath? Or it appears to do so.
      Keegan and the other guy have interesting pieces in The Observer/Guardian too.
      All those people still chortling about the wittiness of that “longest suicide note in history” crack about the 1983 Labour manifesto ought to read what Brian Gould told the Fabians.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        I have wondered if Hitchens’s views have, in part, been reactions against those of his brother. And now his brother has gone.

        • hollowaytoad

          Afrter Fred Forsythe came out as a MI5 operative I have found myself wondering about the Hitchen brothers. Did they too get a “knock from the firm” as Fred put it? They seemed to encapsulate the establishment debate between left and right, never wandering to far from their positions with in the overton window.

          The real horror that has come to me since the internet is just how much of our common thought is ruled by propaganda not soft, or seeping but quite hard and quite at odds with any truth that most of us can now seek out for ourselves.

    • Anon1

      There are many comments. Here is one:

      “Some of this appears to be nostalgia. That’s understandable but not much of a way to generate economic growth. That trade creates economic growth is a fact. Specialisation and trade has been responsible for a staggering growth in living standards for centuries. Nobody who is tapping away at their keyboard, able to communicate with the world instantly, living with abundant food and clean water, with access to medical technology that Kings and Queens in the past never had, enjoying a life expectancy at birth of over 80 years, hunger and disease largely banished, should ever be in any doubt as to how this happy circumstance came about.

      To be sure, trade results in the disappearance of some industries – for the individuals in those industries, the adjustment can be from hard to impossible. Then time moves on, and for the bulk of the population, everything becomes improved as economic resources are put to better uses than subsidises uneconomic old industries.”

      • philw

        What an awful, smug, self-satisfied comment you pick out

        “Nobody who is tapping away at their keyboard, able to communicate with the world instantly, living with abundant food and clean water, with access to medical technology that Kings and Queens in the past never had, enjoying a life expectancy at birth of over 80 years, hunger and disease largely banished, should ever be in any doubt as to how this happy circumstance came about.”

        This came about through the on-going struggle for social justice which the Thatcherites have been rolling back for the past thirty-five years, obviously.

        • Techno

          You’ve forgotten about the 1970s there. Power cuts, inflation at 25 per cent, Britain bailed out by the International Monetary fund. And the cuts to mining and school milk started in the 1960s under Labour.

          • Republicofscotland


            Hmm… We’ve sure came a long way since then haven’t we, with a two million standing army of unemployed, child poverty at record levels, foodbanks that feed not just the poor but the working poor. A low wage ecomony and Zero-Hour contract based jobs. Homelessness at an all time high, with not enough social houses being built, and even if you’re lucky enough to have a decent wage, it can be impossible to get on the property ladder.

            But wait something have gone up since the 70’s like the national debt, now unpayable only servicable, thanks to Osborne, Brown, and now Lord Darling.

            Still monies can be found for important things such as the renewal of Trident, and bailing out incompitent failing banks eh?

        • Anon1

          You call that smug? While you congratulate yourself for the extremely high standard of living you now enjoy as resulting from the “ongoing struggle for social justice”? Don’t make me laugh. It is cold, hard capitalism and nothing else that has given you your benefits.

    • Techno

      The blog version allows comments. it is copied from the main newspaper and says “This is Peter Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday column” at the top.

  • Peter

    I disagree with Hitchens on this particular issue. A subsidy just means higher taxes on successful businesses; a tariff is really just another kind of tax – albeit one levied on a narrower sector of industry.

    Hitchens is actually wrong about Thatcherism. It was never really about free enterprise, but about laying the foundations of the UK Corporate State, where crony businessmen got the pickings and workers just picked up P45s. This went hand in hand with a neo-conservative foreign policy and social authoritarianism.

    And for what it’s worth, this is the policy that is still in force today, as refined by Blair and continued by Cameron. Some would call it fascism.

    But I would always recommend his journalism and I am glad to see his work recognised here.

    Whether you like his opinions or not, the thing that marks him out form the sort of shills you find in the MSM these days is the fact that his journalism is +real journalism+, based on where he believes the facts lead him. Not where some overbearing proprietor or party hack tells him to go.

  • Peter C

    “I replied this morning to a comment on my last posting from a gentleman named Andrew, who said we should ditch loss making heavy industry and could live on highly profitable financial services. I am happy to say what struck me immediately was how old-fashioned this sounded. The zeitgeist has moved. We just have to be rid of a legacy government.”

    Totally agree. Found this very useful in understanding just how utterly corrupt “financial services” are:

  • bevin

    The Tories just do not care what happens to the British people. They never did.
    Their ancestors didn’t care when beef eating John Bull was being transformed into malnourished, shambling and overworked Hodge, the farm labourer on six bob a week. To Gradgrind and Gladstone, Scrooge and Lord Brougham it was all part of the natural dispensation of Political Economy: pleasant to contemplate.

    They didn’t care when the Jarrow marchers were trying to shame them into patriotism, when there was 80% unemployment and a miserably inadequate dole in the industrial areas. They didn’t care that millions of “heroes” from the Great War were homeless and broken by years of poverty in the midst of fin de siecle luxury.

    They didn’t care when thugs, hired by the state, were breaking the miners strike- agents provocateurs and spies were being employed to break a Union with the intention of breaking Trade Unionism. They rather enjoyed picking up the papers every morning and lapping up the lies.

    They don’t care about ordinary working people in Iraq, or Syria, or Libya or Palestine and they don’t about them in Port Talbot or Liverpool or anywhere else. They don’t care about the Balance of Payments either, because their funds are all cleverly stashed away elsewhere. They don’t care about the NHS because, in a pinch, they have better alternatives. They don’t care about the railways and the price of electricity doesn’t bother them.
    The working class frightens them. The sound of ordinary accents troubles them. They want them to go away, which is why they demolished manufacturing-to get rid of the factory workers. They rather look forward to the day when Port Talbot will no longer be breeding tough looking taffies with a tendency to get above themselves: they’d much prefer it to be full of Ukrainians working in call centres, taking time off to mark Stepan Bandera’s birthday.
    They don’t care and they are probably still comfortably ahead in the opinion polls.

    • Peter

      You could say +exactly+ the same thing about today’s Labour Party.

      They are no different.

      And you can include Mr Corbyn in that.

      He’s proved to be very good at pulling most of his punches ever since he became leader.

  • Republicofscotland

    Glad to see Hitchen’s finally open his eyes, on matters others have noted for many a year now, I wonder if the Mail will politely no longer require his services, for emitting the truth, that Britain is going backwards.

    Globalisation is the uncaring business mantra that sees a countrys heavy industries crippled. One could say in defence of faceless corporations why pay more when out sourcing adds to profits. The answer to that question, is vast and complicated, and invariably opinions will differ.

    But surely a countrys government has a obligation, to its workforce and citzens as a whole to defend as vigoursly as possible that nations industries, and ergo its citizens jobs. Jobs that not only allow families to live above the breadline, whilst they keep their feelings of respectability and hope, but jobs do contribute to the wellbeing of the nation, that feel good factor if you like.

    There is much truth in why China portrays Britain as a service industry provider and not much more. The right have concentrated so long on offloading and privatising anything they could get their greedy hand on, that we’ve become used to it.

    I fear we’ve come too far down that road of globalisation and maximising profits, at the expense of our workforce, even Labour a onced proud defender of workers rights and jobs, fell from grace, in the shape of Blair and more recent leaders (Corbyn aside) who felt it necessary to adopt right wing thinking.

    Is Hitchen’s road to Damascus moment just a bump on a otherwise corporate motorway or will others see the light, and cry out for change?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford aka The Biscuit

    And don’t forget that Wood character who ruled that Putin, who had the job of making sure that Moscow did not get caught in any surprises in March 1986 – thanks in part to the input that Alexander Litvinenko supplied about OPERATION ABSORB which left the Anglo-American warmakers blind if Moscow decided to launch a first strike in response to the surprise in Stockholm – ordered Saha;s murder.

    Litvinenko was not on any assassination list that Putin might have had, no matter what he subsequently did or said.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford aka The Biscuit

        No apologies needed as it’s not even O/T.

        New information most explosive, especially McRae’s blood/alcohol level insince a bottle of Grouse was in the car, the missing .22 revolver with no finger print check on it, and most important the missing file.

        It could quite well be in the hands of the securocrats because I suspect that it connects McRae to his killers, especially 14 Intelligence Company’s Captain Simon Hayward who apparently went on to assassinate Palme.

        Urge McRae’s supporters to go through Hayward”s Under Fire; My Own Story with a fine-tooth comb, especially the real sources of his bitterness, what he knew about Scotland and Sweden before he was set up in Sweden for alleged drug-running, his relationship with Forbes Cay-Mitchell, and the lengths to which the securocrats went to in order to cover up his crimes too.

  • Yes M'Lud

    Anon1 at 13:20, “It is cold, hard capitalism and nothing else that has given you your benefits.” Funny to see mediocre intellects falling for the same trick they pulled on ignorant Medieval peasants. Back then authorities didn’t use ‘capitalism’ to reify various contingent forms of predation,they used ‘God’s will.’

  • giyane

    Hitchens + Daily Mail + attack on Thatcherism + attack on Cameron real support for Daesh = collapse of stout party + dissolution of Tory government before 5 year term finished + Corbyn government.

    Let the Tories scrape the burn off the saucepan. they pushed their stupid ideas too far. open the windows someone!

  • Tom Welsh

    May I suggest that a lot of comments on this topic fall into the usual trap – as do our American cousins – of assuming an “either/or” where, in fact, both sides are pretty horrible. Perhaps it’s human nature to assume that there must be one “door into summer”? It might make us happier to think so, but it’s not the case. There is no earthly reason why there should be any way for us to have our cake and eat it.

    One of the greatest problems for society, and for studies such as politics and economics, is simply that human life is so short. A lifetime is perhaps 80 years, a generation 30 years. That means we usually forget any lesson, no matter how shatteringly powerful it was at the time, within two or three generations. (As witness the fact that Germans and Japanese people are beginning to think that maybe war isn’t so bad after all, and Westerners have forgotten all the lessons of the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression sufficiently to be preparing to repeat them).

    While we can all see the downside of the “privatisation” movement introduced by Mrs Thatcher, how many of us can vividly remember the downside of the trade-union dominated Britain that came before – in the 1960s and 1970s? I am not claiming that was any worse than the insane privatisation and exploitation we have today; just that it was, in some ways, as bad (although in a different way).

    Under nationalisation, we suffered from “I’m all right Jack” syndrome (see the marvellous Peter Sellers film of that name for details), millions of public employees who were somewhat “retired on the job”, completely uncaring about the public because their job security was so massive. Lack of initiative, lack of concern, rudeness, and an even greater degree of inverted snobbery than we see today (which is saying something).

    It seems to me the big problem isn’t socialism and nationalisation OR capitalism and privatisation. It’s not political or philosophical at all. The big problem is human nature. The principle, “from each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs” is beautiful – almost Christlike. Unfortunately, human nature means that most of us tend to contribute a little less than our abilities, and demand a little (or a lot) more than our needs.

    Under “free enterprise” privatisation, Mrs Thatcher was right that a lot more ingenuity goes into finding new ways to make more profit. Unfortunately, that profit is kept by the owners and managers – not shared with the public.

    What we really need is some way of preventing the powerful from exploiting their position and power to take more and more from themselves. “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith pithily expressed it. But political systems don’t make a lot of difference: as the joke used to go back in the 1960s, “capitalism is the exploitation of man by man; communism is the opposite”.

    • Tom Welsh

      I distinctly remember, in about 1973, having to deliver and install a new minicomputer system to a large publishing firm’s headquarters in London. My colleague and I turned up with the computer – about the size of a couple of large modern refrigerators – boxed up and ready to install. As soon as we reported to the security desk, we were told to wait and touch nothing (including our own equipment) until all the necessary union representatives were present. About two hours later, one man from each of the five trade unions concerned had appeared. My colleague and I were told we could go ahead, and we took the computer up in the freight elevator, carried it along a corridor, unloaded it, unpacked it, and installed and tested it while the five union members sat or stood around chatting to one another. The interesting bit was that, although we were strictly forbidden to do any work unless all five of them were present as required by union agreements, not one of them lifted a finger to help us at any time.

      We had already been briefed that any infringement of the rules could well lead to all work ceasing throughout this large publishing firm – possibly for days, until the “grievance” had been settled.

      Later, I had a manager who had previously worked in the car industry in Birmingham. He told me that, once the union restrictions were relaxed by negotiation, he had been able to get an operation that previously took 72 hours to 3 hours. (Although the Japanese did it in 20 minutes).

      • Anon1

        I recall a similar incident in a large manufacturing firm close to where I live.

        The aim, which took nearly 7 hours and two shifts, was to move a box of parts from one place to another. I could have done it myself in seconds, were I allowed. It resembled a crime scene. Things mustn’t be touched until the appropriate authorities were in place. Fat commie union types scoffing digestive biscuits and cups of tea, necessitating endless ‘toilet breaks’, saw to it that the task was completed only minutes before the workers went home.

        I dread to think what the total cost of moving that box amounted to. The clear aim was not workers’ safety but to disrupt and derail industry.

        When the factory became uncompetitive and was closed down, the same union reps were at the forefront protesting Fatch and the Tories, the only work they had done in their entire lives. It still makes me sick to the core thinking about it.

  • Daniel

    Tom Welsh,
    How do you define human nature? For the vast majority of time that humans have existed on this earth, society was organized along egalitarian lines.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Peter Hitchens is often great.

    “highly profitable financial services” is like playing Monopoly when you are 7 years old and you keep beating your older brothers and sisters…Great entertainment – but it contributes nothing.


  • CanSpeccy

    Not one of Hitchens best columns since he seems, unfortunately, not to have read Adam Smith, or therefore any real conception of how a competitive market economy works.

    The problem with BT, for example, is not as Hitchens supposes, that it is privately owned, but that it is a near monopoly. Like many industries, the telecom business tends naturally to a monopoly and like all monopolies must be regulated if it is not to exploit the public.

    Moreover, the means to protect British manufacturing industry and the industrial workforce is not, as Hitchens seems to believe, nationalization, which was for the most part a total disaster, forgotten or never experience by youngsters like Craig Murray and the majority of his even more youthful followers.

    Instead what are needed are tariffs and other devices that constitute a national economic policy. But national economic policy was outlawed by the forces of globalization, i.e., the Money Power, by means of the 1994 GATT (aka the WTO).

    The whole sad story of the destruction of British Industry was clearly and conclusively set forth by Jimmy Goldsmith at the time that heroes of the left, Phony Blair and Bill Clinton, signed the GATT agreement. Goldsmith’s arguments here were clear, concise and conclusive, and it is only by recognizing their truth now that there can be any hope of a return to industrial prosperity in the West.

  • RobG

    The Daily Mail is a weird and wonderful beast. In one sense it is the ‘Daily Heil’ (and in many countries would be prosecuted for hate speech). In another sense it does publish some good journalism, and has ‘lifestyle’ sections such as Health which are well respected.

    Like you, Craig, I respect Hitchins, even though I don’t always agree with his political views.

  • Phil the ex frog

    Yes I was once wrong, so very wrong, but now I am certainly not wrong and you lot should definitely listen to what I have to say, now. I haven’t changed really don’t you know. The service has gone to pot. Industry down the pan. Ruddy English public school buggers acting like they own the place. It was so very different ten years ago. Look, I drink whiskey! Free Scotland now..

  • may non

    maybe thatcher was merely manager/spokesperson for the investment bankers long term plan-
    Rothschild was instrumental in the privatisation programmes of the 1980s in the United Kingdom, which were forerunners of a worldwide trend.
    1979 N M Rothschild & Sons advise on developmental projects in China
    N M Rothschild & Sons Limited was financial adviser to schemes for the construction of two power generating plants in China, constructed by British companies….Rothschilds had set a clear objective of becoming one of the leading banks in the arrangement of finance for China….Among British companies brought into China in this way in 1979 were the National Coal Board and Northern Engineering Industries, who bid for the construction of two power generating plants, one near Beijing, the other in Jiangsu Province. N M Rothschild & Sons Limited was financial adviser to these schemes.
    also watch
    corbett report-china and the new world order for detailed info

  • DomesticExtremist

    ” I am happy to say what struck me immediately was how old-fashioned this sounded.”

    Indeed, these rabid Friedmanite free-marketeers sound today as misguided, ill-informed and doctrinaire as the student Trotskyites did in the 1960s.
    The sooner they are consigned to the dustbin of history, the better.

    • DomesticExtremist

      …oh and we should temper our enthusiasm for Peter Hitchens with the knowledge that he has been a voluble member of both groups.

      His melancholy seems rather bittersweet now that so much damage has been done.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        I assume your phrase “the dustbin of history” is gentle irony. You can’t get much more Trotskyist than that…

        • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

          unless you’re an Iranian extremist talking about Israel?

  • David Sillars

    Bit like the Pope denouncing Christianity. How do we change without some major shift in the power structures?

  • john macdonald

    Scots are not supposed to know anything about cricket, far less be fans! After 40 years of being and expat in various cricket-playing nations, I’ve learned to know better – and come to love the game. I’ve even worn an England shirt for the first and only time in my life – playing cricket in Dubai in mid-summer 50C temperature. I felt my fondness for the game was in inverse ratio to my ability, so an England shirt was very appropriate. Especially as I could wind up the English lassie who has long-suffered my perverse sense of humour.

    We’re now in Bulgaria – and only just caught up with the T20 result. We were watching the local village football team lose 5-1 in the regional league. That was more than compensated by the opportunity for Scottish-English triumphalism on getting home and discovering the cricket result. ABE always prevails in our domestic banter. Maybe that’s why I’m still at the keyboard and the bedroom door is closed….

  • Tom

    Yes, it was a good article, although Peter Hitchens has been moving away from the Tories for about 20 years, and has often made sympathetic noises about Old Labour.
    I think the danger is that we focus on what is now history rather than the present situation and leadership. There is clearly more to this than privatisation, as for many years British Steel was a great success in private hands.

  • Dave.

    You believe him if you want to, I’m not taken in by it. Far from taking great courage to admit his errors, 30+ years on it’s too easy and far too late, the damage has been done and is irreparable. It would have taken more courage to admit his mistake at the time.
    Hitchens was, is, always will be a scumbag corporate lackey.

  • lwtc247

    I would agree. It is excellent.

    it really gets my goat when all this chest puffing ‘strong industrious Britain’ BS comes along. Lets not forget that a significant factor in British Industry’s ‘proud and mighty’ past came about because it was still in the afterglow of hundreds of years of global colonisation, blowing the shit out coloured people across the planet, massive historical wealth accumulation (international plunder) and political hand tying that basically neutered all foreign competition across the world and attempts to monopolise the energy sector. Of course the US wasn’t picked on by Britain and so the US started it’s version of global control (actually dating as far back as the wars against the Spanish, the war in the Philippines subjugation of Hawaii etc).

    Only when other nations could begin to compete of a reasonably ‘fair ground’ (despite still all the meddling to ensure dominance EU, ETO, GATT, IMF, WB,….) did the UK become exposed for the fat thief it was. MY father adored Triumph motorbikes, but never lied that they were better (in terms of the reliability / comfort…) than the Japanese bikes which became to dominate the market… all the more amazing despite them being nuked twice by the frinkin USA.

    Yeah, many goods are crap now…. designed to fail (or fingers crossed last as long as their warranty as the manufactures spin it) but this is also an artefact of Western economic policy, where, basically, only cheap goods could penetrate protected western markets. So Hitchens and crew should really wake up and smell the coffee. You suffer from this too Craig in your anecdotes about working for the British government. Yes you probably had noble intentions, and God bless you for the costly moral stance you took, but the government demonstrable doesn’t have good intentions and they didn’t put you there fore those intrentions, indeed they slung you out once you proved you did have such hideous views. You even state people are out to intimidate and and in Orangemen, you stated that you believe you were the victim of an assassination attempt.

    Thatcherism was (so it seems to me) another avenue by which the status-quo of economic dominance could be maintained, realising that heavy industry couldn’t compete with expanding enterprises overseas, so the “management” and “corporate” approach was ratcheted up a few turns so that Jonnie foreigners companies could simply be swallowed by fraudulent fiat money plucked out of thin air.

    Sorry to point out the illusions.

  • fwl

    Your right to like Hitchens. He is okay, but he is not quite right about BT. BT is bad and still relatively expensive, but the PO had a monopoly, you had to wait months for a line and international calls used to cost a fortune.

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