What have they ever done for Us? (Some Benefits of being in the UK)Thatcher Years

We are forever being told how beneficial it is for us to be Better Together as one Happy Family in the UK.
I and many others have been asking for those who support remaining in the political union of the United Kingdom to tell us..We really want to know!
Most of the answers (if you can call them that?) have been to tell us that we make a stronger unit together,and it allows Britain to have more influence in the world. Things like top table in the UN,a senior partner in an EU which half of Westminster are vying to leave, a seat on the IMF,NATO, World Bank, and added security against other countries wanting to attack us..stuff like that…But none of that really matters a hoot to most Scots..we want to know how it serves us personally,as well as Scotlands interests.

The arguments made in the 1970’s that there really wasn’t that much oil in the North Sea,and it would run out in 30 years anyway, seems ever so slightly shallow, when they repeat the same mantras all over again now. Particularly once we found out that the Mcrone report had been hidden from us for that length of time,and its revelations!!
So the question remains, what has the Union done for us?
I have decided to have a wee trawl through recent history back to 1979, when we were first denied devolution by Labours cowardly 40% rule! What has the UK done for us since?
well lets look at the Governments and Prime ministers and their record of benefiting Scotland, of benefiting you and I and our communities..First Up, Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher: Conservative

It has to be admitted that Britain was in one hell of a state prior to Maggie taking charge. Labour had been making an absolute shambles of things as usual. The Wilson/Callaghan government had seen the pound decrease in value to such and extent it was nearly worthless on the World market and had to be bailed out by the IMF (Just like Greece today) , The UK was stony broke,and Industrial disputes were rife, ending with the Winter of discontent, power cuts, and a population in utter misery. But Oil had been discovered during Wilsons term, unfortunately for them, it came too late to bail them out.

The McCrone report divulged wonderful news about the fantastic amount of wealth there…but with a resurgent SNP with a record 11Mps at Westminster, they couldn’t risk them or the Scottish people knowing…We wouldn’t just have been ensuring devolution, we would have been having our Independence!

The report was stamped TOP SECRET once Callaghan had it shelved, and when Maggie had her hands on it, it was filed away forever, only not quite… The dirty secret and duplicity against Scotland was carried by successive Labour and Tory governments until freedom of Information came into being,and a SNP Mp having heard a whisper requested the information.Had that not happened,we would still never know!

Callaghans government which was a minority one, required an assortment of MPs from the Ulster Unionists,SDLP and SNP to prop it up. When Callaghans Government did the dirty on the SNP by reneging on its support for Devolution, and Labours Bill Cunningham spiking it with the introduction of the 40% rule,meant that despite over 51% of those who voted for devolution, Labour failed to implement it,as there had not been a 40% turn out..When shortly afterwards a vote of no confidence on another matter was tabled by the Tories in Westminster, SNP withdrew their support of Labour,and It heralded in a general election which the Tories won.
Labours Scottish Secretary Willie Ross labelled the SNP tartan tories, and they have been using that insult against the SNP ever since. And from there sprung up Labours sometimes vitriolic hatred of the SNP, not helped any by the SNPs successes in the Scottish parliament ousting them from their accustomed seat of power. So bad is this enmity, that Labour have even voted against proposals they would ordinarily support themselves, simply because the SNP propose it. I would go so far as saying some of them would vote against independence, not because they think its a bad idea, but because its the main SNP policy.

Had Labour played fair, and not reneged on their agreement, Scotland would have had devolution in 1979,and would not have had to wait another 20 years to have it,against Tony Blairs judgement, who compared it to an English Parish council.So for Labour to describe themselves as the authors of devolution is utter nonsense, further more we may not have had Thatcher without their duplicity, we will never know?

So this was what Maggie inherited, and she used it all up very well…It bailed the UK and the City of London out..it built projects like the M25, it was well used up in London and the South of England, but Scotland never saw the benefits of it.
When Scots started shouting, we were told that there wasn’t much oil,and that what we had would only last about 30 years. The promise given to Scots by Sir Alex Douglas Home, when prime minister, that if Scotland voted against devolution would mean that Westminster would give us something better(jam tomorrow) never came to pass when Maggie came to power, that promise was quickly dumped, and we were made to suffer instead.

When she had arrived in Downing street, she made her famous speech paraphrasing St Francis of Assisi,”Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope. ”
For Scots, they could be described as …destroying any harmony to bring discord..Whatever ever errors that we made was in trusting Labours feeble 40 Mps when they promised to stand up for Scotland,and Maggie brought a number of Truths home..namely that Westminster cannot at all be trusted to tell the truth to Scotland! ..as for doubt turning to faith? She really made us doubt,and we have no faith left in her party or any of the other Westminster club….and any Hope we may once have had in any of them, has long since gone….and she started our Great Despair with the actions which followed.

I will give her some credit though for her attitude to expenses…which is in complete contrast to the bunch of chancers we have in Westminster now. During her time in office Thatcher practised great frugality in her official residence, including insisting on paying for her own ironing-board..So we can’t accuse her of milking the British public purse anyway.

First off she lowered Direct Taxes(Seem familiar?) and issued indirect taxes…So the Rich didn’t pay as much tax on their huge incomes,and Indirect taxation meant even the poorest paid more than they would have done. A current example would be..Someone on disability benefit wouldn’t pay tax on it, but they would be paying vat and other taxation making them worse off than direct taxation without indirect taxes..So a gain for the rich and tax on the poor.
She cut public spending and money spent on Social Services,Education and Housing. (seem familiar?)

With inflation running at a high level in the early 80’s she set about closing factories,shipyards,mines and other industries at a phenomenal rate in her first 4 years, as a result whole communities were collapsing, unemployment rose to 3.3 million, with the worst effects in Scotland and Northern Ireland,where unemployment was as high as 20%..In comparison the South East of England was in single figures. These figures remained at that level till the late 80’s. It took till 1990 for recovery,and unemployment halved through the establishing enterprise zones,business tax breaks, and capital projects(just as the Scottish Government have been telling Westminster to do for the past 2 years!)

Throughout the 1980s revenue from the 90 per cent tax on North Sea oil extraction was used as a short-term funding source to balance the economy and pay the costs of reform.But in Scotland our strong skilled manufacturing base had been shredded. Instead of being able to use that wealth to improve and upgrade our industry, we had been shorn of it. Whole communities were on the scrap heap and below the poverty line. Glasgow was particularly badly affected..where there had been high employment, there was now mass unemployment. The loss of the Shipyards, The Steel Industry, The car industry in Linwood, the Truck manufacturers in Bathgate, The coalmines in Fife,The smelter in Fort William,and much more besides.We lost our engineers and so much more. With such deprivation forced on a populace, with it comes poor health, both physically and mentally. The loss of hope,everything becomes bleak, families break down, communities broken, support networks lost..The damage is incalculable.

To add insult to Injury, she heaped the poll tax on us, then from 1983 she started the process of privatisation..and started selling off National Industries.
British Gas,British Steel,British Telecom,British Aerospace,British Rail(Under Major),Brit Oil,Electricity and Water(England),Jaguar,Rolls Royce and so on.. These were sold off for over £29Billion,and another £18Billion was made from the sale of Council Houses. Some of these Industries should never have been sold off under any circumstance…So if you are suffering from the continual price rises for your Gas and Electric..Thatchers to blame! The opposition in the last Holyrood election were all for selling off Scottish Water..Lucky for us, you voted the right ones in, or we would be facing increasing water bills just now.

The closing of Ravenscraig was the closure of a business which was operating profitably,but thanks to these policies we had no defence against it..Scotland could still have a profitable skilled Steel Industry bit for Thatcher,and we would not be having to buy Steel from China for the new Forth crossing.
Instead of selling off profitable or socially essential Industries,where we the people end up having to pay more for our heating, in a country which is rich in oil and gas, these market driven policies mean that the priority is for making rich shareholders and investors richer, It doesn’t matter what happens to us plebs.
Yes..certain Industries could have been sold, but Thatcher took a hatchet to the lot.
Norman Lamont then came up with the wheeze of PFI….and we know who made the most of private finance initiatives..It wasn’t him or the conservatives, but Labour! And we will be paying through the nose for many more years to come because of these!

These measure all took place in tandem with financial deregulation. Geoffrey Howe abolished Britain’s exchange controls in 1979, removing many restrictions on the London Stock Exchange. The Thatcher government encouraged growth in the finance and service sectors to compensate for Britain’s ailing manufacturing industry.

What had been the manufacturing workhouse of the world had become almost solely service based, for the first time ever, the UK imported more than it exported. Which meant that the manufacturing bases in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, North of England and the Midlands were decimated,and wealth centred on London.The financial deregulations put in place by Howe, were to be further deregulated under Labour,and we are living with the results and excesses of Browns policies now!

And to top off her 3 reigns in power, she had the Falklands war, which saved her bacon at the following election as she milked all the jingoism associated with the war to it’s fullest extent.

She was finally toppled by her own party in 1990 and replaced by John Major.

So ends part one of What they have done for us…Tune in next time for Blair.

Bearing all of the above in mind, and considering all that we still continue to be force fed by Better Together, consider where Scotland could be now, and how your life could be, if we had been given the truth of the McCrone report in 1975, rather than hidden from us.
Consider also the damage done by Thatcher to Scotland and Scottish Industry and Society, and compare what could have happened.
Norway had the same resources, in fact less so, as we have Whisky which rakes in Billions for the UK.
We have had more Nobel prize winners than any other nation on earth per head of population since its inception,the 4th biggest Financial Sector in Asset management, and two Universities in the Worlds top 50.
Norway has about the same size of population as we do,and tops the world now in societal wealth.
Have a read at the Norway Post today. They are not too wee, or too poor, or too stupid…But some of us might be!

Norway Post

Independent: How Black Gold was Hijacked, McCrone Report

About auldacquaintance

I am not a member of any political party. I am however a strong supporter of Scots Independence. Any views which I express in this Blog are purely my own. This Blog intends to be a place where I will be putting my views on Scots Independence. It will primarily concern itself with the upcoming Referendum In Scotland. However It will also be somewhat diverse in the range of day to day issues which are evident to me in modern day Scotland. Not all of it will be political, and indeed may take me off into avenues I am not even aware of yet. Please come and join in on this journey, and any comments are welcome provided they are not abusive! All the best from a new acquaintance! Rod
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10 Responses to What have they ever done for Us? (Some Benefits of being in the UK)Thatcher Years

  1. Macart says:

    That’s pretty much how I remember it AA. I was one of Maggie’s four million club, not an honour I’m particularly happy to have. Made redundant once is bad luck, made redundant twice within that first decade seemed like pure carelessness.

    If there is any one act in this treaty of ours which literally screams foul, it has to be the McCrone Report. When you cut right through all the bull, our nation partner lied to us and betrayed us for money. No ifs, buts or maybes, they’d sold off the family silver and discovered that their partner had hitherto undiscovered wealth to fund the gap, so they did what any caring sharing partner would do and stabbed us in the back. The treaty of union is a piece of paper which means nothing to Westminster. Its an illusion, a grand lie used to perpetrate wholesale national theft of all our resources from people to oil. Surely to God nobody actually believes that Westminster/Whitehall, full of elites and mandarins actually gives a shit about any historic union with Scotland? That they actually care about any shared history, travails, the man/woman in the streets of Coatbridge, Lerwick, Oban at all??? I reckon enough is enough, they’ve had a good turn out of the Scots. Its time to work for our own future interest here before what’s left is wrecked beyond repair.

  2. Aye I remember Maggie very well,as I was bringing up a family,but I went to Australia for a couple of years.I had a job and good money,I was lucky I suppose.I also remember Wilson,the clown who introduced the infamous Selective Employment Tax,so that every employer would have to pay (I think ) about £3.per person for the privilege of employing them.Caused one in six spare men in work with small business’s to get paid off.

    • Aye Wilson…I remember writing a poem ripping the pish out of him…I wish I could remember it now… It followed the lines of the Lords prayer..All I can remember of it now is the first line..
      Oh Wilson which art in downing street
      Harold be thy name

  3. David Milligan - a very Sovereign Scot says:

    Anthony Wedgewood Benn told us practically every night on TV that the oil was “poor quality stuff” and that it would run out “in a couple of years”. We believed him because we had no reason not to. Politicians didn’t lie, did they?

  4. panda paws says:

    We really need to tell the younger generation (and remind the older ones!) of the way Scotland was repeatedly lied to and ask them if they trust the current lot to tell the truth now. I was in primary school when the “it’s Scotland’s oil” campaign came out. I’m still waiting for Scotland to see the benefit of it. I’m told the Norwegians call us an occupied country, God they must be laughing themselves silly with a £600bn oil fund.

  5. longshanker says:

    I agree with the broad sweep of your piece here. I think you’re generally spot on with the assessment of the impact of Thatcherism.

    Where I differ with you is in the reason you’ve given for the success of Thatcher into government. I’m no apologist for the Labour party but I’ll refer to this statement made by you: “I have decided to have a wee trawl through recent history back to 1979, when we were first denied devolution by Labours cowardly 40% rule!”

    As you later correct, it was indeed Labour’s Bill Cunningham who had that part inserted into the referedum rules. If it hadn’t been a weakened Labour government, that concession would never have got through. You therefore appear to impugn the Labour government when in fact it was a coterie of anti-nationalist Labour MPs who forced that concession on the government of the day – a weakness which the SNP also exploited in a state of spiteful venegance.

    I’d invite you, to listen to Michael Foot’s winding up speech on the night of the No confidence vote. He clearly states the following: “We believe that this House of Commons ought to pay respect to that referendum – EVEN if it does not comply with the full requirement of the 40 percent which was included in the bill.”

    He mocks the SNP for their willingness to side with the right wing Thatcher tories who had no tolerance for any Scottish concessions re home rule or devolution. And, by actions rather than words, the SNP deserved to be labelled Tartan Tories.

    Michael Foot neatly encapsulated many of Thatcher’s policies which later led to the events you espouse here. He saw it coming. He saw the harm she would wreak. You have to ask yourself why didn’t one – not one – of the 11 SNP MPs who chose to walk down the same lobby as Thatcher not have the wit about them to see the danger of Thatcher. Up until the Falklands, she was constantly on a shoogly peg with more moderate or ‘wet’ Tories ready to send her back to the obscurity she deserved.

    Of course, you can write off this SNP “treachery” by saying it was inevitable the Labour party would have been voted out of government anyway. But it doesn’t write off the actions of the SNP. Actions for which the Scottish electorate rightly and roundly punished them in the consequent general election.

    It was the blindness and self serving aspect of the SNP during this period which has always made me suspicious of them since.

    I’m not anti-independence, but we need better people to deliver such a thing than we have now.

    Five years running a ‘pocket money’ government does not a competent government make.


    • I disagree… You refer to Foot saying that the Labour government needed to respect the decision of the vote , irrespective of the 40% rule… When in actuality, when the vote was in favour, and it came back Labour did not respect it…and this was where the fall out between them and the SNP occurred… I am sure if the SNP Mps that voted subsequently in the motion of no confidence…would with the benefits of hindsight,which none of us are blessed with…would have taken a different stance had they known that the next general election would see in three terms of Thatcher… She went further than any Tory government had ever done…So much so, that she faced resistance in her own party because of her measures..

      • longshanker says:

        It’s all down to interpretation I suppose.

        Then SNP leader Gordon Wilson expected to get 20 seats in the following general election.

        He didn’t see what was coming, he failed to read the (Scottish) public mood and he was either unaware of the danger of Thatcher or willfully ignorant.

        Or perhaps, even more cynically, thought a dose of far right Tory extremism would focus the mind of the Scottish public to the SNP view of the world – as we are indeed, currently experiencing at the moment.

        My umbrage isn’t that the SNP didn’t vote with Labour, as you quite rightly point out, the 40% rule could be interpreted as treachery and it did make the referendum all but unattainable for the Yes camp. A clear case of Machiavellian manoeuvering by Willie Ross and his anti-nationalist cabal.

        My umbrage is that every SNP MP voted WITH Thatcher. It made them then look treacherous, shifty and right wing themselves – which of course, they were. They could have abstained – they didn’t.

        That makes them less the injured party and more the crazed avenger. If they really had the country’s (Scotland) best interests at heart they would never have voted with Thatcher.

        As you so roundly encapsulate the repercussions of her reign in this mostly enjoyable piece, it’s worth reflecting on Salmond’s unguarded comment that “we didn’t mind her policies so much” (paraphrasing).

        Salmond’s bolt is shot. The independence campaign is damned with him and it’s damned without him.

        My worry is that we lose more power than we currently have at the moment. It’s a distinct and worrying possibility.


      • I don’t think his bolt is by any means shot… There will be those who like him those who don’t …He seems to be a bit like marmite in that respect.. I wasn’t really paying that much attention when he was quoted as saying that about Thatchers policies..Seemingly he insisted that he was quoted out of context…which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest… Undoubtedly Thatcher did do some things which had to be done,and the UK as a whole were the better for them…but they were certainly not beneficial for Scotlands health in the wider or total scheme of things. Scotland suffered horrendously and disproportionately under Thatcher. The damage has been lasting, and it’s effects still felt today.
        Guaranteed..we are totally gubbed if we lose the vote in 2014….It doesn’t bear thinking about what the repercussions of what that would mean!!

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