On Harry Dexter White and Pearl Harbor

by Eric on April 8, 2013

In the recent TLS I have an essay on Benn Steil’s new book on Bretton Woods. Unlike some notices, mine is critical. You can read mine here. If you’re interested in the theory, put forward in Steil’s book, that Harry Dexter White caused US intervention in World War II, read below the fold. If you’re more interested in the late Baroness Thatcher, please carry on down to the other posts for today.

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The Lady’s Not for Turning

by Corey Robin on April 8, 2013

To get a sense of why conservatives in Britain of a certain age revere Margaret Thatcher, check out this clip of her “You turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning” speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October 1980.

The context (my apologies to the Brits in the audience; this stuff can be like ancient Greek to us Yanks): In the early 1970s, Tory MP Edward Heath was facing high unemployment and massive trade union unrest. Despite having come into office on a vague promise to contest some elements of the postwar Keynesian consensus, he was forced to reverse course. Instead of austerity, he pumped money into the economy via increases in pensions and benefits and tax cuts. That shift in policy came to be called the “U-Turn.”

Fast forward to 1980: Thatcher had been in power for a year, and the numbers of unemployed were almost double that of the Heath years. Thatcher faced a similar call from the Tory “Wets” in her own party—conservatives who weren’t keen on her aggressive free-market counterrevolution—to do a U-Turn, and many expected she would. This was her response. [click to continue…]

Baroness Thatcher is dead.

by Harry on April 8, 2013

I presume it is a bit silly to point to any obituaries. So, instead, a heartwarming story. A few weeks before he died Eric Heffer, in one of his last interviews, Eric Heffer told a story against Neil Kinnock. (If you are too young to remember Heffer, well, here’s wikipedia). He, Heffer, was dying, and one evening, walking down a corridor in the Commons, he got to the point that he couldn’t walk any further. He thought he was alone but Mrs Thatcher was several feet behind him. Seeing his distress she made him put his arm round her, and walked him to a nearby office, made him a cup of tea, and sat with him while they waited for a nurse. His observation, about Neil Kinnock, was that he would have walked straight by.

It turns out that Heffer and Thatcher were friends of sorts; similarly Thatcher and Allan Adams. (See Frank Field on Thatcher’s liking for socialist company). The first 6 years of my political life was devoted to opposing nearly everything Thatcher did (including the Falklands War, about which I have changed my mind; the exception: sale of council houses), and that only ended because I moved somewhere that I could oppose what Reagan was doing instead. But there’s plenty of space on the internet for people who want to speak ill of the dead — I just thought I would tell a story I heard about 22 years ago and is not, as far as I can find, recorded elsewhere.