Alf Roberts would have been appalled by ‘Thatcherism’

Yesterday’s barking put me in mind of my favourite passage in John Campbell’s generally very good first instalment of his biography of Margaret Thatcher, The Grocer’s Daughter (2000):

“Politically she embraced – and at the zenith of her premiership enthusiastically promoted – materialistic values and an ideology of consumption, based on the easy availability of credit, which would have made Alderman Roberts blench. To Brian Walden in 1981 she admitted that her father disapproved of the Stock Market, which he considered ‘a form of gambling’. She explicitly abandoned his dedication to serving the whole community (‘Together – and for all’) in favour of a blatant policy of rewarding her favoured supporters, the home-owning middle class. She devoted much of the energy of her administration to destroying the independence and vitality of local government, to which Alfred had given his life. One could even see her loathing of railways as a rejection of Grantham. All the while, however, she continued to hymn the homely values of the corner shop, lauding the neighbourly virtues of the ‘small town’ and the ‘close family’ in which she had been brought up, as a smokescreen for the increasingly fractured society her policies were deliberately creating. Alf Roberts would have been appalled by ‘Thatcherism’.” (pp.29-30)

The thought about the railways seems a little forced (a bit like the old theories about Mrs Thatcher’s fondness for America possibly stemming from adolescent encounters with G.I.s based in England during the war). But the rest seems to me to be quite right, and insufficiently appreciated.

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