'Fall of the Thatcher regime' and history

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slothjabber
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Mar 21 2007 16:04
'Fall of the Thatcher regime' and history

Reading some contributions on the Sheridan/IWW dispute thread, I noticed some people seem to think that the Anti-Poll-Tax movement 'brought down the fascist Thatcher regime"?

Does anyone really defend this?

1 - was the Thatcher regime fascist?
2 - was it brought down by the Anti-Poll-Tax movement?
3 - was it brought down at all?

Just some pretty fundamental questions of analysis...

Thanks all.

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 21 2007 16:05
Quote:
1 - was the Thatcher regime fascist?

Did someone actually say this?

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 21 2007 16:08

there was one mental on that thread defending sheridan grassing up the poll tax rioters under a kind of 'any means necessary against thatcher' argument, they might have said it. they used CAPITAL LETTERS A LOT iirc.

martinh
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Mar 21 2007 16:10

1. no
2. not directly, but it played a role in her exit
3. I see your point. I think when people talk about it contributing to her downfall, they mean her downfall, and I don't think there's any sort of case that the politics represented by Thatcher don't have a continuous line from 1977 to the present day.

Regards,

Martin

(edited for clarity )

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Sam
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Mar 22 2007 13:47

1. I don't think she was, i mean i might just be innaccurate and call her a fascist just to express anger, but when it comes down to it, to be operating in a fascist manner means to smash the unions completely, she was in great conflict with the unions, but i don't think even thatcher would have realistically thought she could smash them. She was not a fascist in practice at least.
2 From what i know which isn't as much as i'd like, it probably had a pretty significant role in bringing her down although i don't know if it was this alone that did it, if indeed any single thing does bring down a regieme.
3 I feel that thatcherite values are still pretty ingrained into british politics, and society in general, the things that people want, the attitudes of people, their awareness of what's going on around them. Through my experiences in the education system have i seen this most, the way learning is commodified, the way we are conditioned into boredom, and the emalgemation of education and work/careers. Just everything about institutionalised education. I may not have really been around during thatchers time but i feel that people around my age are still experiencing the effects of her government. I feel the ideology as such has not been brought down at all, and we all have some way to go before that happens.

Big Brother
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Mar 22 2007 21:53

1. was the Thatcher regime fascist? That a questions that bothers me too. I often say under my breathe "Facist" out of anger but is she really one then how would you define her party as or is it a "simple" case of reading far too many spanish civil war books.
2 - was it brought down by the Anti-Poll-Tax movement? I would say yes it certainly help her on her way out but now I'm a little more older and wiser I think there were certain elements within the party looking for revenge and careerist self-interest, it's just the excuse they were looking for. It was they within the party who called the shots and not the Poll Tax protestors.
3 - was it brought down at all? Sadly no it was just rebranded and repackaged.

ernie
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Mar 23 2007 10:44

Why was thatcher brought down? Is was no longer able to effectively defend the national interest of British Capital. Why say this?
- the collapse of the Eastern Bloc overturned the whole international situation. Thatchers hard image and intransigent support of the US suited the needs of British Imperialism very well in the 1980's. However, faced with the complexity of the new international situation her and her supporters inability to go beyond their crude distrust of Europe and especially the Germans meant that British imperialism was increasingly marginalised in the complex game of international imperialist chess. The problem however, was that even though she was thrown out, that did not mean that the rightwing of the party understood the needs of the new situation: thus the Tory party was turned into a bag full of cats.
- the bourgeoisie also needed to try and change the image of the government from being hard arsed Rightwing to a more smooth faced government that did not jolt against the huge pro-democracy campaign that the bourgeoisie was developing at the time.
The dumping of Thatcher showed how intelligent the bourgeoisie can be. She was undermining its international position and its democratic campaign so get rid of her.

baboon
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Mar 23 2007 15:05

No. No and, well yes, so not quite thrice No.
Thatcher 1979 met the needs of the bourgeoisie as PM in order to confront the working class - the miners specifically - in order to generalise the lesson of a crushing defeat to the whole class in GB.
The Labour government and the unions in the late 70s were being overwhelmed by the class struggle ("Winter of Discontent") and tendencies within this struggle, as was the situation in all the major capitals, were coming up and against and tending to overflow the unions. The Labour government and the unions were incapable of dealing with this struggle.
Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister. Her mentor was Airy Neave, well involved with the secret services and later assassinated by the IRA (incidentally, John "cone lines" Major, the "Brixton Boy", was also fast tracked by similar networks through the Treasury and the Foreign Office as a Mr. Bland to take over from the strident Thatcher and attempt to fine tune Britain's imperialist objectives in the "New World Order" (see above)).
For Thatcher's administration taking on the miners as a lesson to the whole class was the order of the day - particularly after the miners' wildcats of 72 had humiliated the then Conservative governmentand contributed to undermining the unions. The need was a frontal attack on the working class and the Thatcher team prepared carefully.
Thatcher wasn't at all against the unions - she used them - she was against the working class, which is not the same thing.
The unions had been overwhelmed by rising class struggle in the 70s and were more than ready for Thatcher's "realism". In fact, they welcomed it with open arms. In the first years of the Thatcher government most workers received above inflation pay rises, some well above. Thatcher met the unions and laid the grounds by doing solemn deals with some - the ISTC steel union, the NUR and Aslef, the power workers and later the dockers' union. In the meantime Scargill was set up as the bogeyman and the NUM targetted. All through the miner's strike, the government team had meetings with and made deals with the other major unions in order to keep the miners as isolated as possible. The bourgeoisie achieved its victory over the working class with a great deal of help from the unions.
The anti-poll tax riots contributed not one whit to Thatcher's demise. The state would have found the former useful, dealing with futile, inter-classist protests - nothing like the threat of a militant, unified working class - and trying out its tools and methods of repression.
It was from the highest levels of the bourgeoisie that it was decided to get rid of Thatcher and the executioner chosen was Geoffrey Howe, Thatcher's mild-mannered, polite ex-Chancellor. Howe's parliamentary speech against his leader was as masterful and as it was understated. It was the bourgeoisie settling accounts within itself and an eye-opener to how ruthless the bourgeoisie can be to its own. Howe's speech skinned Thatcher alive, layer by painful layer. It was a political and character assassination as well as a public humiliation. After that she was finished.
So, no fascism, no poll tax riots effects and yes, she was brought down, but by her own class in a most effective manner.

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Mar 23 2007 15:51
Quote:
Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister. Her mentor was Airy Neave, well involved with the secret services and later assassinated by the IRA (incidentally, John "cone lines" Major, the "Brixton Boy", was also fast tracked by similar networks through the Treasury and the Foreign Office as a Mr. Bland to take over from the strident Thatcher and attempt to fine tune Britain's imperialist objectives in the "New World Order" (see above)).

Can you provide any specific concrete evidence for this?

Quote:
The anti-poll tax riots contributed not one whit to Thatcher's demise. The state would have found the former useful, dealing with futile, inter-classist protests - nothing like the threat of a militant, unified working class - and trying out its tools and methods of repression.

That is oversimplication and assertion rather than fact.
The poll tax attacked the working class social wage, so the fact that some of the worst affected lower sections of the middle class and concerned liberals were also against it doesn't disqualify working class resistance to the tax as being 'inter-classist'. You can't definitively claim that the poll tax riots had no influence on Thatcher's declining fortunes or did not cast her in a worse light (even if your anti-riots ideology requires you to make that claim). The poll tax was arguably Thatcher's biggest tactical error and, coming at a time when Europe was such a divisive issue for the Tories, it was another nail in her coffin and made her look weak and as if she was losing her grip. The Stock Exchange was affected by the Traf. Sq. riot and temporarily dipped. There were also many ex-miners and printworkers involved in the poll tax protests.

Black Flag
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Mar 23 2007 17:16

Why would she be a fascist ?She was only friends with General fucking Pinochet.She only had nothing but contempt for the working class.If you ask me thats fascist enough.If given the chance she would have ruled just like Pinochet,but she was not able to.Norman Lamomt was also a friend of Pinochet and I am sure plenty of other tories were too.

barrywoodling
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Mar 23 2007 17:59
Big Jack McTussoch wrote:
Why would she be a fascist ?She was only friends with General fucking Pinochet.She only had nothing but contempt for the working class.If you ask me thats fascist enough.If given the chance she would have ruled just like Pinochet,but she was not able to.Norman Lamomt was also a friend of Pinochet and I am sure plenty of other tories were too.

That's why i say she wasn't in practice. I am sure she would have loved to do what pinochet did. But there were more restrictions on what thatcher could do when you compare it to the things that pinochet could do.

Big Brother
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Mar 25 2007 02:01
barrywoodling wrote:
Big Jack McTussoch wrote:
Why would she be a fascist ?She was only friends with General fucking Pinochet.She only had nothing but contempt for the working class.If you ask me thats fascist enough.If given the chance she would have ruled just like Pinochet,but she was not able to.Norman Lamomt was also a friend of Pinochet and I am sure plenty of other tories were too.

That's why i say she wasn't in practice. I am sure she would have loved to do what pinochet did. But there were more restrictions on what thatcher could do when you compare it to the things that pinochet could do.

Does it mean Maggie a fascist or if not then what definition be attached to her political ideas?

baboon
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Mar 26 2007 14:11

Thatcher wasn't a fascist, such a description makes the word meaningless and is a complete misrepresentation of what the Thatcher government meant for the British ruling class and the working class in Britain in the 1980s.
Thatcher was carrying out and carrying on the attacks on the working class in complete continuity with the previous Labour government - was that government "fascist"? It did so by initially giving large wage rises to many sectors of workers and then working hand in glove with the unions to isolate and take on the miners. Are the unions "fascist"? The extent to which Thatcher relied on trade unionism to help defeat the working class can be seen in the fact, that through her secret service coterie (you will have to have to go back and read the newspapers of the time - but it's all there) not only did she do deals and make promises to all the main trade unions, but they actually set up a new union around the Nottingham area, the UDM, which was the effective final nail in the coffin of the strike.
I don't have concrete evidence of this, sworn statements from MI5, etc, but it was obvious that the secret services were instrumental in setting up and running this union.
I don't have any "concrete evidence" of Thatcher being fast-tracked by the secret services to power, again I hold no statements from these agencies, but it isn't at all unusual for the major democracies to use the secret services for its "leadership" candidates either directly and indirectly. In fact such activity is entirely usual and normal for the capitalist state. In Thatcher's case its use was directly and again I point you to the (bourgeois) publications of the time, and to an analysis of the history of her mentor, Airy Neave, and to familiarising yourself with the secret service coterie that she surrounded herself with and used after she became Prime Minister, used particularly against the working class and the miners' struggle. You have to use some critical faculties when looking at these areas, because the secret services, by their very nature and activity, do not open publicise the latter.
Ret, you take the biscuit for oversimplification and assertion. Not only did the Poll Tax riots not have any effect whatsover in relation to "Thatcher's declining fortunes", the Poll Tax riots were actually a means to assert the authority of the British state and underline Thatcher's image as the "Iron Lady". Regular TV footage of British cops and paramilitaries smashing skulls of protesters, generally helpless or otherwise, going out on European and American TV was precisely the image the British state wanted to propagate. Taking on the miners, even with all the planning that went into it was an enormous gamble for the bourgeoisie and it knew, if push came to shove, it could not use armed troops against the miners. But the Poll Tax riots was just the "fight" it wanted. A set piece confrontation over one tax, no threat to it at all, a set up enemy, inter-classist, the issue credibilised in the working class by leftism who would have corralled the working class into any action or "ism" against (the "fascist") Thatcher. The Poll Tax riots were generally a positive for the British state and its bourgeoisie.
And what's said today about the Poll Tax riots, look at Ret's post above. Complete incomprehension that this was a defeat, even to the point of suggesting some sort of victory. Being defeated is nothing new for the working class. There's absolutely no shame in it - most of its struggles end in defeat. But not to see that this was a defeat, not to understand what it was, even with the benefit of hindsight, that's a real victory for the bourgeoisie.

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Mar 26 2007 16:37
Baboon 1 wrote:
Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister. Her mentor was Airy Neave, well involved with the secret services and later assassinated by the IRA (incidentally, John "cone lines" Major, the "Brixton Boy", was also fast tracked by similar networks through the Treasury and the Foreign Office as a Mr. Bland to take over from the strident Thatcher and attempt to fine tune Britain's imperialist objectives in the "New World Order" (see above)).

Baboon 2 wrote:
I don't have any "concrete evidence" of Thatcher being fast-tracked by the secret services to power, again I hold no statements from these agencies, but it isn't at all unusual for the major democracies to use the secret services for its "leadership" candidates either directly and indirectly.

OK - so we've established that something you presented as fact is actually only an assertion. It may or may not be true. I have a different interpretation from you on these issues, one being that I tend not to present assertions as facts.

I do doubt very much that Thatcher introduced the Poll Tax deliberately to create a mass movement of non-payment and just so it would have to be abolished. If, as is claimed, leftists were needed to to 'credibilise' it amongst the working class, this seems to imply that the working class would have otherwise accepted this attack on their income. Which I again very much doubt, and such easy acceptance would have been a defeat in itself.

But contrary to what you say, I never said it was some kind of victory - I said it was a tactical error - not the same thing. But I do think it was some kind of victory. If one wants to use your kind of logic, one could say that her defeat of the miners 'underlined Thatcher's image as the "Iron Lady"' far more than the Poll Tax, which was in no way seen as such a victory. The evidence you have presented for it being a bourgeois victory is the images that appeared on TV screens of clashes with the cops, which you describe as demonstrators' skulls getting bashed. But in fact the cops were the first to admit that they took a beating in Traf. Sq., ('I think we lost it a bit on the day') so if you are using that as any measure then the cops came off alot worse in the Poll Tax than they did in the miners strike. That is partly why many ex-miners and printers were involved at Wapping and the Poll Tax, cos it was a chance for some revenge against the London Met. That is fact, not assertion. I think you are doing again what your group has been often accused of - trying to stretch facts to fit your ideological pursuasion.

ernie
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Mar 26 2007 17:13

Ret, you miss the point that Baboon is making: the Poll Tax was a deliberate manoeuvre against the working class, so when you say that miners and printers joined in this movement: this is precisely what the ruling class wanted. The Poll Tax movement was not a class movement but an inter-classest one which had the specific aim of boosting the idea of democracy i.e., 'protest by the people', 'people power'. To fully understand the point that Baboon is making one has to stand back a bit and look at the wider context of the development of the Poll Tax movement. It took place in the international context of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the massive ideological campaign that went with it about victory of democracy and people power. Thus, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the whole Poll Tax campaign was designed in order to drive home this message within the working class in Britain. Thus, all of the demonstrations and meetings where the 'people' showed they anger whilst the Iron Lady and the Tories took no notice only helped to strengthen the impact of this pro-democracy campaign.
The Trafalgar riot only helped to reinforce this ideological campaign. Not only because it pushed the idea that peaceful protest can change things, but also because it also posed the other side of this: pointless violence as being an effective form of protest. What did the riot gain for the working class? A lot of young people got a good killing from the police. The bourgeoisie also made good use of it to tie it into the myth of the Poll Tax campaign some how bring down Thatcher and putting an end to the Poll Tax (don't forget that Council Tax replaced the Poll Tax and is equally as vicious) i.e., change through people power.
At the time it was only the Communist Left that stood out against the massive bourgeois ideological campaign to promote democracy -as far as I can tell if they were any anarchist groups that opposed this campaign it would interesting to hear about them-.

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Mar 26 2007 17:42
ernie wrote:
Thus, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the whole Poll Tax campaign was designed in order to drive home this message within the working class in Britain.

As I said there is a difference between fact and assertion, one that you again blur. While it's 'not beyond the bounds of possibility' - many things aren't - it is kind of important to distinguish between fact and assertion when making historical interpretations. I still see no concrete factual evidence for your claims - that doesn't disprove their possibility, but it does discount them as definitely correct, as you tend to keep presenting them. They don't convince me, based on what I know; but more importantly you have a responsibility when replying to such as the OP, who requests info, to be clear that your ideological interpretation is no more than that.

Should the working class not have struggled against the Poll Tax, just meekly accepted it as an attack on their income - Just so they could congratulate their poorer selves on not getting sucked into a supposedly 'inter-classist' struggle? That doesn't make alot of sense. Not every struggle outside the workplace is 'inter-classist', nor is every struggle that includes the participation of middle class people.

ernie
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Mar 26 2007 18:15

Ret, you are correct to say that it is not enough to make assertions -though given we do not have access to the inner working of the state we do need to try and draw out some conclusions what the interests of the ruling class would lead them to do i.e., who gains from this?-. So in order to develop the discussion would you agree that the collapse of the Eastern bloc lead to a massive campaign about democracy and people people power? Would you agree that the anti Poll Tax campaign -as a campaign by the Left and others- helped to reinforce this campaign?
You are right to show that my post implied that the working class should not struggle against this vicious attack, this was erroneous on my part. At the time we said that workers' have to struggle against this attack but that this could not be done on the bases of losing themselves in a 'peoples movement'. That there was a need to integrate this into a wider class movement. However, we also pointed out that in the context of the impact of the collapse of the blocs etc the class was in a very difficult situation for developing its struggles. As you said the way I posed it did not make a lot of sense.
If I have time I will try to dig out some of the stuff we wrote at the time. It was certainly one of the most difficult interventions we had to make and we were not always as clear as we could have been. But then that is the praxis of revolutionary intervention.

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Mar 26 2007 19:07
ernie wrote:
would you agree that the collapse of the Eastern bloc lead to a massive campaign about democracy and people power?

Insofar as those events were a hook to hang the ideology of bourgeois citizenship on, and the global triumph of this ideal, yes. But that is part of the constant general ideology of this society anyway, to gloss over class conflicts by referring to the equal rights of citizens.

ernie wrote:
Would you agree that the anti Poll Tax campaign -as a campaign by the Left and others- helped to reinforce this campaign?

I think the State justification for the Tax was in these terms, equality of responsibility for all citizens, so all must pay equally. But alot of the left propaganda correctly emphasised how the tax would hit the poorest hardest, so still referred to class in some way. Even if what you say had been true, it would be foolish to judge this or any movement only by what the left, right or state say about it. There was working class self-organisation in the resistance to the Tax, to bailiffs, court appearances etc; and it was more widespread across the working class than in the miners strike (by the universal nature of the effect of the Tax), so I don't think your argument "there was a need to integrate this into a wider class movement" holds up against, e.g, a comparison with the miners strike. The intention was to abolish the Tax, that was achieved - yes, though replaced by Council Tax which has regularly risen. But you wouldn't just dismiss a victorious strike cos the wage gain was later eaten away by inflation, taxes etc. The process of the activity itself is also important for those who participate; it can breed confidence, show other possibilities etc. None of which were pursued or realised since, it has to be said.

But if one wants to analyse the state in terms of conspiratorial motives, one also has to take into account its ability to make poor choices, tactical errors etc and see these as possible explanations too, even if less 'clever' ones.

ernie
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Mar 27 2007 14:21

Ret

Quote:
Insofar as those events were a hook to hang the ideology of bourgeois citizenship on, and the global triumph of this ideal, yes. But that is part of the constant general ideology of this society anyway, to gloss over class conflicts by referring to the equal rights of citizens.

Well yes there is a constant ideological struggle against the working class, but you appear to underestimate the huge boost this struggle gained by the collapse of the Eastern bloc i.e., death of communism, victory of capitalism and democracy, the 'rise' of people power. The collapse of the East Bloc also overthrow the international situation. We also believe that it brought the whole development of the class struggle, which had been taking place since 1968 to a stop and throw the international working class into a state of disorientation. This was a very major historical event. The following article lays out our analysis of the historical import of these events in more detail than I can here
[http://en.internationalism.org/ir/99_stalinism.htm]

The point that there was working class resistance to the impose of the tax and its impact is correct. In itself though the resistance to the baliffs taking part in demonstrations etc was very limited and easily lost in the overall inter-classist nature of the movement. What I meant by integrated into a wider class movement is that the demand for higher pay linked to the need to pay for the Poll Tax could be part of wider demands. The struggle against a tax in itself does not make a lot of sense, why not struggle against income tax etc.

I do not agree that the end of the Poll Tax campaign was a victor for the working class. It was not the same as a victory over wages, such a victory gives the class confidence in its abilities to organise itself. At the end of the Poll Tax the general sense was that there had been a victory for 'people power', Thatcher had been shown what for etc. Given the overall international and nation profound disorientation in the working class due to the wider international events, such an end could only strengthen the hold of bourgeois ideology over the class not weaken it or provide a real strengthening of the class sense of its own confidence. Undoubtedly some of those who took part felt that they had achieved something but taken on the wider level the whole process of the introduction of the tax and the struggle against it had reinforced illusions in democracy and 'people power'.

Ret , I do not think we will agree on this but it is important that we all know what we are saying about the lessons of this event. The importance of a struggle is not just its immediate impact but the long-term lessons it can give that allow the proletariat to strengthen its struggles in the future. The miners' strike showed that no matter how long and militant a strike is: as long as it is isolated to one group of workers it will be defeat i.e., the only way to push the bosses and state onto the back foot is to spread and unite the struggles. What lessons has the Poll Tax left for the class? For us it would be the danger of diluting the class struggle in inter-classist campaigns. What are the lessons for you?

baboon
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Mar 27 2007 16:58

There's not been much comeback about Thatcher being "fascist" and the "fascist" Labour government she was in continuity with and the "fascist" trade unions that she worked with to defeat the miners. so the argument about "fascism" in this respect has given away to a more fruitful discussion about the Poll Tax.
On the miner's strike, all Thatcher's action in continuity with the previous Labour government and her clique's work with the trade unions in order to isolate the miners is a matter of record and if you look you will find it. But if you are blinded by prejudice ("Thatcher the fascist", for example) in the first place you will not see it at all.
On the secret services' role in the build up of the Thatcher regime and its role in the miner's strike, then I stand by everything I said and all this can be verified by doing a little research into the question. I cannot reproduce hundreds of disparate pages of information here or refer you to hundreds of different publications. Do some research Ret and let me know what you find.
One point I will alter in what I said above, regards the statement that "it was not unusual for the secret services to involved in leadership candidate" or some such phrase. I would change this to say that the secret services are absolutely and always totally integral and indispensable to the whole election process of the bourgeoisie, and particularly its candidates for leadership.
Now I can't bring you a number of witnesses, or statements from the secret services to attest to this Ret, but I assure you that this is the case. Unless you are arguing there is no such thing as a ruling class and the secret services are an integral part of it? You're surely not asserting that we live in a democratic society are you?
Every democracy in the world has the secret services at their heart and function, more or less efficiently, according to the political history and development of that country. Britain is particularly well placed for its intelligence services and to think that they would not be intimately involved in one of the most important class confrontation of the last 50 years is totally naive. If someone says to you Ret "here is the truth, kneel", then run as fast as you can. But don't allow what appears to me as your political naivity to block a critical analysis of what was a crucial event in the life of the working class in Britain.

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Mar 27 2007 17:33
baboon wrote:
If someone says to you Ret "here is the truth, kneel", then run as fast as you can.

That must surely include your statements, baboon.

baboon wrote:
But don't allow what appears to me as your political naivity to block a critical analysis of what was a crucial event in the life of the working class in Britain.

Please save your patronising attitude for a more deserving target. Yet again you distort what I said. I'm quite aware of the role intelligence agencies play in statecraft. I never said it wasn't possible the secret services had such involvement, I merely asked for some concrete evidence of what you asserted - you have so far failed to provide any such evidence. If you are saying that because something can happen it must have, it is you who are naive. The conspiratorial explanation may make you feel more 'in the know', but it's not always correct; and some things are unproveable. As I said - be clear what is assertion/speculation and what is fact; something you failed to do in earlier posts.

Yes, ernie; it's clear we won't agree, even on the characterisation of the events as 'inter-classist', something you haven't even explained as to why it deserves this label. But I'm not inclined to discuss this further. I largely agree on the importance of what people draw from their experience of struggles, but what your group drew from the Poll Tax resistance as outside observers is, for me, very wide of the mark.

ernie
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Mar 27 2007 19:33

Ret, OK we will not agree on the nature of the Poll Tax campaign, fair enough. However, what about the first part of the post concerning the historical importance of the collapse of the Eastern bloc and its impact on the working class? This was one of the most important historical events since 1968 and its implications for the working class were and are profound, would it not be worth discussing that?

baboon
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Mar 30 2007 16:54

Ret, I haven't asked you to "kneel down" for anything. All I ask is that you do a bit of independent research and use your critical faculties. Simple research will reveal the substance of my original assertions about Thatcherism. You use my logic above to make your own assertions and one, that Thatcherism reinforced its image by defeating the miners, is one I agree with.
The strengthening of British imperialism and the commcomitant attack on the working class was a deliberate, thought-out policy of the ruling class. This was the policy that brought Thatcher and Thatcherism into being after the Labour government and the trade unions had failed to rein and control the working class in the 1970s. The Falklands War of 1982 was part of this attack on the working class perfectly in tune with the British bourgeoisie's imperialist policy of "punching above its weight". While defending all elements of British imperialism, just like any Tory or Labour government, Thatcherism also developed a particular, specific strategy to take on the working class. The "patriotism" over the Falklands , such as it was, had dissipated quickly but served a purpose for the British bourgeoisie. It had reinforced its image both internationally and nationally and now Its strategy against the miners was to build up coal stocks, draw the miners into a strike, isolate them, not least by doing direct and secret deals with various other trade unions. I was in South Wales at the beginning of the strike and learnt that Terry Thomas, Welsh ISTC (steel union) official, had cut a deal with Thatcher's representatives giving certain guarantees over the Llanwern steelworks.
Taking on the miners was a big risk and took planning and intelligence. I can assure you, and you are in a position to confirm this yourself, that Thatcher arose with the connivance of the secret services with the main purpose of taking on the working class. Though sparse, this is documented. But it makes complete sense and fits in with the time that these events occurred (over the months of the strike I, along with the ICC, spent time in South Wales, Yorkshire and Lancs talking with miners and other workers - that doesn't make me right but it did give me a perspective and a basis for my "assertions") and the overall pattern of the organisation of the bourgeoisie which you yourself confirm in your latest post. Internationally the bourgeoisie will cut each other's throats (or mostly ours), nationally they compete in clans and cliques, but they are intelligent enough to provide themselves with secret and semi-secret organisations in order to continually defend the national interest.
Today, the British bourgeoisie are riven by the same problems as bourgeois regimes everywhere: a generalised breakdown in international relations, an economy that's on the brink, and a working class that is just beginning to break down the barriers against it - not least the unions. But for all that, the British bourgeoisie remains the most experienced and intelligent in the world. In the major class confrontation that was the miner's strike, it is inconceivable that the forces of repression, from the unions to the police, wouldn't have been manoeuvred into place by the secret agencies of the state.

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Red Marriott
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Mar 30 2007 17:23
baboon 1 wrote:
Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister. Her mentor was Airy Neave, well involved with the secret services and later assassinated by the IRA (incidentally, John "cone lines" Major, the "Brixton Boy", was also fast tracked by similar networks through the Treasury and the Foreign Office as a Mr. Bland to take over from the strident Thatcher and attempt to fine tune Britain's imperialist objectives in the "New World Order" (see above)).

baboon 2 wrote:
I don't have any "concrete evidence" of Thatcher being fast-tracked by the secret services to power, again I hold no statements from these agencies, but it isn't at all unusual for the major democracies to use the secret services for its "leadership" candidates either directly and indirectly.

baboon 3 wrote:
One point I will alter in what I said above, regards the statement that "it was not unusual for the secret services to involved in leadership candidate" or some such phrase. I would change this to say that the secret services are absolutely and always totally integral and indispensable to the whole election process of the bourgeoisie, and particularly its candidates for leadership.

For someone so sure of themselves you sure change your mind alot. All I asked for is some evidence for your claims - still none, just a 'go and look for it yourself'. From what research I have done, it seems it's hard to know the definite truth in particular cases, which is different from assuming that the security services always do everything they are capable of.

What I was challenging was more than that though - you (and others) have repeatedly presented your interpretations (of the Poll Tax etc) as facts. This is a discussion about history, you speak to others (like the OP) too young to be familiar with the events, so you'd do well to clarify the difference between your assertion, supposition, speculation, conspiratorialism and actual fact - ernie recognised this, you seem to have difficulty recognising the necessity. And wherever possible, at least cite some available information that has led you to your beliefs. None of which you've done. Particularly when you are talking about the role of the security services, proof is hard to come by, so let's not pretend otherwise.

slothjabber
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Mar 30 2007 22:58

Just one issue I'd like to clarify...

"you speak to others (like the OP) too young to be familiar with the events..."

bless you Ret for leaping to my defence, impressionable young thing that I am, but actually I'm old enough to have been beaten up during the miners' strike for being a "commie", and stoned (no, not with stones, silly) the morning of the Traff Square demo, which is why I missed the bus (fuckin' lifestylists! T'CHA!)

The reasons I posted originally were:

1 I wanted to challenge an over-easy (like eggs?) conflation of 'the Thatcher regime' and real fascism (and yes rkn, someone really did say it), hence the first question;
2 I also wanted to know if people thought that Thatcher being replaced was a significant political event rather than a freaky circus designed to change the people who get the blame, and to what extent was that a face-saving measure brought about by popular pressure rather than behind-the-scenes manipulation by the establishment, and why; hence the second;
3 I wanted to try and find out whether people had the idea that what I regard as somewhat of a team-switching cavalcade had any more significance than I give it (ie 'does the choice between Thatcher-Blair-Cameron make any difference?' 'Are we not still living with Thatcherism?' etc), hence the third question.

And the bit about fundemental questions of analysis was coz I believe it's really important to get at these historical questions that people have such wildly different views about... coz it usually means that they have very different ways of making sense of the world.

baboon
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Mar 31 2007 13:51

I haven't changed anything Ret and support everything I said - including the clarification about the role of the security forces for the democratic state. You say you are "quite aware of the role played by the secret services in statecraft" - that's an assertion Ret, like many more of your points and everybody's points on here. If you want absolute "truths" go into higher mathematics which is just about the only field where it's available. But based on what you say is your "awareness" and your ability to analyse a political situation, I simply ask you to use your head and undertake a little research.
I don't know what OP means.
Sloth, I think it is clear that Thatcherism was a particular expression of the capitalist state to take on the working class. The Labour Party and the unions have a history of doing this so it doesn't make Thatcherism fascism
Thatcher was finished off and replaced by her own kind.The evidence for this is so overwhelming that anyone should be able to find it.
Thatcherism, in the sense of the attack on the working class is still with us, but the window dressing has changed.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 31 2007 15:47

OP = original post/poster

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Mar 31 2007 18:29
slothjabber wrote:
bless you Ret for leaping to my defence, impressionable young thing that I am, but actually I'm old enough to have been beaten up during the miners' strike for being a "commie", and stoned (no, not with stones, silly) the morning of the Traff Square demo, which is why I missed the bus (fuckin' lifestylists! T'CHA!)

Ha ha, forgive me slothjabber for assuming you were asking because you were as young as the majority of posters on here.

baboon 1 wrote:
Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister. Her mentor was Airy Neave, well involved with the secret services and later assassinated by the IRA (incidentally, John "cone lines" Major, the "Brixton Boy", was also fast tracked by similar networks through the Treasury and the Foreign Office as a Mr. Bland to take over from the strident Thatcher and attempt to fine tune Britain's imperialist objectives in the "New World Order" (see above)).

baboon 2 wrote:

I don't have any "concrete evidence" of Thatcher being fast-tracked by the secret services to power, again I hold no statements from these agencies, but it isn't at all unusual for the major democracies to use the secret services for its "leadership" candidates either directly and indirectly.

baboon 3 wrote:

One point I will alter in what I said above, regards the statement that "it was not unusual for the secret services to involved in leadership candidate" or some such phrase. I would change this to say that the secret services are absolutely and always totally integral and indispensable to the whole election process of the bourgeoisie, and particularly its candidates for leadership.

baboon 4 wrote:

I haven't changed anything Ret

Quote:
If you want absolute "truths" go into higher mathematics which is just about the only field where it's available.

Er, for example - World War II did occur, Thatcher did exist, I am alive - I'm happy to treat that as truth. It's helpful to have such agreed working concepts to aid communication. In your universe, they are apparently only eternal assertions, unless one can turn them into a mathematical equation. No wonder you have trouble distinguishing between your speculation and actual facts.

I 'know' (if that's not too strong a word for you) that there is a variety of speculation and some facts available on the subject - but what I ask is - what is, and/or where is, the factual evidence that led you to your stated conclusions? I think what you assert as fact would be very hard to prove, so I would be interested if there is any proof. I haven't found any proof in my search, I don't know of any such proof, if you do, please show it. If you don't, stop presenting speculation as fact.

baboon
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Apr 2 2007 13:47

I don't have ready access to a computor and I haven't yet sussed out how to make links, so bear with me.
Ret, read "Public Servant, Secret Agent: the enigmatic life and violent death of Airey Neave" by Paul Routledge. In a career devoted to British imperialism (he was a Nuremburg interrogator), Neave was recruited as a secret agent by MI9. I'm not sure about the timing of this but I would think around the mid-1950s. Neave was allegedly involved in right wing plots hatched by the secret services in the 1960s and the "Clockwork Orange" plot in Northern Ireland (Sunday Times, March 1981).
Tony Benn diaries record (17.2.81) that he was to be assassinated by an intelligence agent called Lee Tracey. Benn discounted this theory, but Tracey claimed that Neave had recruited him to a team of intelligence and security specialists. According to Irish investigative journalists, Neave was deeply involved in the merger of MI5 and MI6. Neave's deep involvement with the secret services are beyond dispute.
In the early 70s, after the South Wales and Yorkshire miner's wildcats, the secret services, under Stella Rimington, set up the F2 section in order to develop the role of the security services in strikes and "domestic subversion" concentrating on the "far and wide left". The secret service's role in the trade unions (NUM president, Joe Gormley, was a special branch informer, many other unions officials were suspected of the same) was nothing new, but Rimington's brief was a development - see Seamus Milne, "The Secret War Aginst the Miners" and "Spies and the British Labour Movement" by Rob Sewell. In The Times during 1974, there were a series of articles suggesting a coup aimed at keeping workers down, the miners particularly targetted. The right wing American journalist, William Buckley, also published similar stuff in the US.
(Incidentally, and interestingly, there are stories of the high government and state officials in the 70s, being given an analysis by a historian, procured by the secret services, on the lessons of the German Revolution in the 1920, where the military had to hand over to Social Democracy)
For more information on the role of the secret services around Thatcher and the miners' strike, see "The Role of the State", by left wing journalist, Peter Taffe. See also Militant, 6.3.81 and a series of articles in Militant.
In the "Inside Story of British Intelligence" (Lobster), it states: "Under her (Thatcher's), spooks budgets more than doubled. Thatcher's rise was managed by Airey Neave, whose intelligence connections she even acknowledges in the first volume of her memoirs. When she became leader she was given tutorials by a group of ex-spooks, including Brian Crozier". See also: "Free Agent, the Unseen War, 1941-1991".
Another person highly involved in Thatcher's coterie, preparation and action over the miners' strike was one David Hart (recently involved with Mark Thatcher's African adventures). See "City Limits, Oct. 20 1988 and the BFI Film Database: "Mrs Thatcher's secret servant". Hart was involved in many comings and goings in the background of government and I believe he was another link with the secret services against the miners. Hart was definitely involved in helping to set the Union of Democratic Miners (on Google, punch in David Hart, Thatcher and David Hart, UDM).
Airey Neave was undoubtedly a member of the secret services. The secret services in the early 1970s had a definite plan to take on the working class and particularly the miners. Airey Neave was Thatcher's manager, minder and mentor and after her election he became 'head of government office', given his connections, a central position to implement the strategy of the innermost workings of the state.
There is a specific context to all of this but more important than that is the overall context of the decadence of capitalism and the development of state capitalism and the fact that democracy and elections are not only empty shells as far as the working class is concerned but real weapons of the state. No decisions of any significance to the capitalist state are taken by parliament and its electoral process. What the event around the Thatcher election show is those real decisions and actions of the capitalist state are plotted and manoeuvred behing closed doors.

David in Atlanta
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Apr 2 2007 18:45
slothjabber wrote:
Reading some contributions on the Sheridan/IWW dispute thread, I noticed some people seem to think that the Anti-Poll-Tax movement 'brought down the fascist Thatcher regime"?

Does anyone really defend this?

1 - was the Thatcher regime fascist?
2 - was it brought down by the Anti-Poll-Tax movement?
3 - was it brought down at all?

Just some pretty fundamental questions of analysis...

Thanks all.

1. No, but with a militarized foreign policy, economics overtly skewed to the benefit of private and iinstituonal capital, and authoritarian use of police powers, one can see where the error occurs. Like her cronies in the american republicans, she stood as close to open dictatorship as the ruliing class dares go without losing democratic wiindow-dressing completely

2. It seems from all i've read that Thatcher was forced out by rivals inside the Conservative heirarchy. The poll tax crisis provided an excuse, but how much of one is actually rather beside the point, because:
2a. Forciing Thatcher out wasn't the tactical objective of the movement. Reversing the tax was. In this the movement can claim, in my unhumble opinon, a partial and debatable victory.The community charge was taken off and vat increased, an equally regressive taxation scheme. Being used as a bludgeon on Thatcher by her classmates was a fringe benefit

3. Maggie was put out to pasture and the poll tax removed. Other than that, the military-political alliance with the US stands, the attacks on workers rights and standard of liviing go on, not much has changed.

Meanwhile, the working class of the UK got to flex its muscles a bit in a test of political strength outside the electoral arena. And forced real if minor and over dramatised changes in policy and leadership of the state in so doing.

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Apr 2 2007 21:37

Thanks for the references, baboon. But that stuff is fairly well known; i.e Neave's relationship with intelligence and with Thatcher, the intelligence services' involvement in the miners strike etc. But there is still no evidence to prove your claim that "Through the secret services, MI5 and MI6, Thatcher was fast tracked for Prime Minister." It may or may not be true, though I doubt the proof, if it exists, would ever come to light. So it should not be stated as definite fact.

On Neave, there are also speculations that his assassination, though carried out by INLA, was actually controlled by, depending on who you believe; a) the CIA, cos he was clamping down very hard on republican paramilitaries and the CIA preferred a united Ireland for their long-term foreign policy plans (it's claimed that the bomb used a mercury-tilt mechanism that only the CIA possessed at the time); or b) other factions in MI5, who wanted him dead cos he was about to expose/suppress internal corruption in the intelligence services.

Whether these theories are true or not, if one accepts they are possibilities it would show that the capitalist state does not function as one homogenous mass, as one might think from your description, but is itself riven with competing interests.

It seems an exaggeration to say "No decisions of any significance to the capitalist state are taken by parliament and its electoral process." Dirty tricks are played in Parliament to get laws passed, different factions (including the security services) do lobby and bribe for their own interests. It is also part of the law making process, surely of significance to the state. The electoral process counts for something, otherwise why would the security services bother to want to influence it?