Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Economist Backs Thatcher (Not)

Just indulge me on this. We know the Blairite Economist is anti-Davis, and pro-Cameron. And I've posted before on this (here and here), shaking my head at how that once robustly laissez-faire organ has degenerated into an apologist for consensus statism.

I felt sure it used to be better, and decided to check out its position during the 1975 leadership contest. An hour in the excellent LSE library has now produced the goods.

Alas. Just like its present position, it was strongly pro-Heath and anti-Thatcher. A few weeks before the contest (ie well after the famous U-turns, the three-day week, and Heath's defeat in two elections within eight months) the Economist opined:

'Mrs Thatcher is not ready for the leadership. She has held no high office; she was unhappily, and not successfully placed at the Department of Education; she has not proved that she is up to the battery of critical exposure that a party leader...must be able to turn to advantage.

There is an extra complication. In spite of the issues of personality- or perhaps because the personailities are not large enough- the party is entangled in something approaching an ideological debate.

It would be foolish for the party to vote for anyone other than Heath.'


Of course, four years later, after Wilson/Callaghan had come within a whisker of destroying Britain, and we'd had all those bodies piled up in the streets, then the Economist jumped on the new metropolitan consensus to back Maggie.

But I think we can see how its instincts work.


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