Baby Thatcher Guy Verhofstadt: “The weak position of the EU makes me sick”


Verhofstadt on Libya: “The weak position of the EU makes me sick”


Today at a meeting in Parliament to assess the results of last week’s European Council, Guy Verhofstadt denounced the inability of the EU to take decisive action on the Libyan crisis. “This makes me sick,” he declared.

“I want to use this opportunity to salute the fifty heroes, the fifty heroes in the power plant of Fukushima, the fifty heroes who at this very moment risk their life in order to save the people of Japan from a nuclear catastrophe. But Japan, for all its tragedy, is an event we cannot change. We can help. We must help. But unfortunately we cannot change.

“In Libya on the contrary we can change the course of events.  In Libya there are heroes as well. Thousands of them. Sacrificing their life for nothing else then freedom and democracy.  And what are we doing in order to prevent this? What are we doing to prevent what is in fact a new Srebrenica, a new Rwanda, a new Darfur?  Are we helping them? Defending them? Supporting them with arms or a no fly zone? Are we recognizing the opposition government? Are we trying to keep the democratic revolution alive?  No, we are sending fact finding missions”.

“Have we learnt nothing from the past? It is now or never”.


About kruitvat

I am working for the Belgian human rights association 'Werkgroep Morkhoven' which revealed the Zandvoort childporn case (88.539 victims). The case was covered up by the authorities. During the past years I have been really shocked by the way the rich countries of the western empire want to rule the world. One of my blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Je travaille pour le 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', un groupe d'action qui a révélé le réseau pornographique d'enfants 'Zandvoort' (88.539 victims). Cette affaire a été couverte par les autorités. Au cours des dernières années, j'ai été vraiment choqué par la façon dont l'Occident et les pays riches veulent gouverner le monde. Un de mes blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Ik werk voor de Werkgroep Morkhoven die destijds de kinderpornozaak Zandvoort onthulde (88.539 slachtoffers). Deze zaak werd door de overheid op een misdadige manier toegedekt. Gedurende de voorbije jaren was ik werkelijke geschokt door de manier waarop het rijke westen de wereld wil overheersen. Bezoek onze blog «Latest News Syria» (WordPress) ------- Photo: victims of the NATO-bombings on the Chinese embassy in Yougoslavia
This entry was posted in Geen categorie and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Baby Thatcher Guy Verhofstadt: “The weak position of the EU makes me sick”

  1. kruitvat says:

    Belgium’s ‘Baby Thatcher’ caught in tussle over top EU job

    17 June 2004

    Belgium’s Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, once dubbed “Baby Thatcher” for his free-market zeal, was leading the race Thursday for next head of the European Commission, but faced a veto by Britain for the top EU job.

    London says that the 51-year-old former lawyer — whose resemblance to a grown-up student belies a keen political mind — is a dangerous federalist bent on creating a European superstate.

    Verhofstadt’s outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq — he organised a defence “mini-summit” with France and Germany last year — did not exactly find favour with Britain or other pro-war nations such as Italy and Poland.

    Born in the western city of Gent, Verhofstadt entered politics early and shot up the party ranks, becoming president of the Flemish Liberals at the age of 28.

    He entered parliament at 32 and in 1985 was appointed deputy prime minister in the coalition government of Christian Socialist Wilfried Martens.

    But his image as a fiery young gun was seen as arrogant by some and in 1988 he returned to opposition.

    His “wilderness years” were to last more than a decade and through two election failures in 1991 and 1995, the second of which led him temporarily to abandon the leadership of his party.

    But marrying his childhood sweetheart and becoming a father of two seemed to calm Verhofstadt down and by 1997 he had returned to the frontline with a more moderate image.

    The move towards the political centre changed his electoral fortunes. In 1999 he led his party into government, to head a country reeling from the Marc Dutroux paedophile scandal and a dioxin food contamination crisis.

    On the domestic front, the prime minister’s first term was marked by a liberal social agenda that saw gay marriage and euthanasia legalised and marijuana decriminalised.

    Over the years Verhofstadt has however turned more protectionist, adding to British suspicions that he would turn the clock back at the commission as it confronts major reform goals, such as the Lisbon agenda to transform the EU into the world’s most competitive economy by the end of the decade.

    In recent weeks Verhofstadt has played down any ambition for the Commission job, insisting repeatedly that he is happy in his job as Belgian prime minister, a post to which was re-elected last year.

    But France and Germany have come out openly behind him, and Verhofstadt only fuelled the speculation by paying a surprise pre-summit visit this week to Poland, one of the countries that is thought to oppose his candidacy.

    As EU leaders gathered in Brussels Thursday, Verhofstadt’s hopes were in the balance, caught in the traditional power play between the EU’s heavyweight states.

    Even as the EU summit opened it emerged that the European People’s Party, the biggest grouping in the European Parliament, had agreed to back EU external commissioner Chris Patten for the job.

    EU leaders were planning to decide the matter Thursday evening, although diplomats have warned it could be delayed until next month if no consensus is found.

  2. kruitvat says:

    ‘Baby Thatcher’ returns as Belgian PM

    ‘Mr Verhofstadt and his outspoken Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, also showed a steely determination in defying the United States over the Iraq crisis…’

    Jul 13, 2003

    Guy Verhofstadt has been sworn as Prime Minister of Belgium on Saturday local time, taking on a second mandate after leading the country since 1999.

    Not one to shy from challenges, the Flemish-speaker has pledged that his Liberal-Socialist coalition government will breathe new life into Belgium’s moribund economy, increase public spending on health and create 200,000 new jobs by 2007.

    “Belgium must continue to be a country where life is good, a creative and united country,” the 50-year-old said last week when presenting his government’s agenda for the coming four years.

    A former lawyer once known as “Baby Thatcher” for his free-market zeal, Mr Verhofstadt’s resemblance to a grown-up student belies a keen political mind.

    But he can be a hot-headed character, which has sometimes led him into problems.

    Born in the western city of Gent, Mr Verhofstadt entered politics early and shot up the party ranks, becoming president of the Flemish Liberals at the age of 28.

    He entered Parliament at 32 and in 1985 was appointed deputy prime minister in the coalition government of Christian Socialist Wilfried Martens.

    But his image as a fiery young gun was seen as arrogant by some and in 1988 he returned to opposition.

    His “wilderness years” were to last over a decade and through two election failures in 1991 and 1995, the second of which led him temporarily to abandon the leadership of his party.

    But marrying his childhood sweetheart and becoming a father of two seemed to calm Mr Verhofstadt down and by 1997 he had returned to the frontline, retaking the helm of his party, this time with a more moderate image.

    He tempered his ultra-liberal aspirations and stopped stoking animosity between the Dutch-speaking Flemish and the French-speaking Walloons.

    The move towards the political centre changed his electoral fortunes.

    In 1999 he led his party into government, to head a country reeling from the Marc Dutroux paedophile scandal and a dioxin food contamination crisis.

    Mr Verhofstadt’s first term was marked by a liberal social agenda that saw gay marriage and euthanasia legalised and marijuana decriminalised.

    On the economic front, his government cut taxes but failed to save Belgium’s national airline Sabena that collapsed under a mountain of debt.

    The prime minister also brought his country onto the international stage, guiding Belgium through a successful six-month presidency of the European Union.

    Mr Verhofstadt and his outspoken Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, also showed a steely determination in defying the United States over the Iraq crisis.

    Their stand earned them no friends in Washington but did their image at home no harm.

    Although he has repeatedly said he would not leave Belgian politics before the end of his mandate in 2007, Mr Verhofstadt’s name has been bandied about as a possible candidate for the future permanent European president, as outlined in the draft text of the European constitution.

    A committed Europhile, his position reassures the European Union (EU) heavyweights while giving voice to the union’s smaller states.

    His experience in navigating the often choppy waters across Belgium’s linguistic split would stand Mr Verhofstadt in good stead in negotiating Europe’s larger cultural differences.

  3. kruitvat says:

    Blair backs ‘Baby Thatcher’ for Commission

    27 MAY 2004

    Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister, has emerged as the clear front-runner to succeed Romano Prodi as president of the European Commission, after gaining tacit support from an initially reluctant Tony Blair.

    Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister, has emerged as the clear front-runner to succeed Romano Prodi as president of the European Commission, after gaining tacit support from an initially reluctant Tony Blair.

    While Britain is still formally backing Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, officials in London concede that he has little chance of winning the job. As a result, Mr Blair is unlikely to oppose the appointment of Mr Verhofstadt at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels next month.

    Initially, London was sceptical about the Belgian Prime Minister, but Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, reassured Mr Blair over dinner at Downing Street last week that Mr Verhofstadt is an “economic liberal” who supports Britain’s drive for Europe to adopt US-style labour market reforms to create jobs.

    Moreover, were Mr Blair to block Mr Verhofstadt at the summit, the Belgian premier could retaliate by sabotaging Britain’s efforts to achieve its minimum demands on the EU constitution which is also due to be decided at the same summit.

    Mr Verhofstadt is backed strongly by France, and winning the support of three of the EU’s “big four” countries would give him a commanding position in the race to succeed Mr Prodi. “We may have slightly under-estimated Verhofstadt,” one British government source said yesterday. “We are very keen to pursue the jobs agenda and want the new Commission to move on it. He has good credentials to do that.”

    British officials also point to his track record in handling a coalition government, initially of six parties but now reduced to four. “The skills are similar to running the EU where you have got to keep four or five big countries on board,” one said.

    This is a sharp change in tone from a government which had gone out of its way to express its reservations about Mr Verhofstadt, and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker. But, with the Brussels summit just three weeks away, Mr Blair seems to be positioning himself so that he is not isolated, particularly if Mr Verhofstadt’s campaign is building unstoppable momentum.

    In theory the UK could be outvoted on the issue, which would be humiliating if it had pledged opposition to the Belgian premier. More importantly, Mr Blair may not want to alienate a fellow premier during negotiations on the EU constitution.

    Mr Blair may also be calculating that he can strike up a good working relationship with the Belgian premier. When he took over as Prime Minister in 1999, Mr Verhofstadt cultivated close ties with Mr Blair until the two men fell out over Iraq. Not only did the Belgian premier back France and Germany, he also hosted a four-nation summit on EU defence in Brussels, without the UK, last April.

    Since then ties have improved and there has been recent contact between the two Prime Ministers. Once nicknamed “Baby Thatcher”, Mr Verhofstadt established his free market credentials early in his political career, though he is now seen as a middle-of-the-road politician.

    There are similarities between Mr Verhofstadt’s political thinking and Mr Blair’s “third way” philosophy and the Belgian premier has called for measures to make the EU more accountable.

  4. kruitvat says:

    German Greer about Thatcher

    11 April 2009
    The making of Maggie
    She found it easy to charm men … women simply didn’t count She was the grocer’s daughter with a stong moral conscience who ruled with an iron fist – or so the story goes. In fact, she was a millionaire’s wife, who lacked scruples and did what her male colleagues told her, argues Germaine Greer on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Mrs Thatcher’s election…
    The year was 1972. We were all in our places and sitting comfortably, waiting for Lord Annan to answer the question “What are universities for anyway?” for the inaugural Richard Dimbleby lecture. The BBC TV cameras were ready to roll. At the last possible minute, a group of men in dark suits ushered in a blonde woman wearing floor-length scarlet chiffon, with ice-blue stones winking at earlobes and throat. As they handed her officiously to her place and ranged themselves around her, the whisper ran around the lecture hall: “Thatcher Milksnatcher!” This glamourpuss was the secretary of state for education in Edward Heath’s government, the person caricatured by journalists as the “Mrs Scrooge with a painted face … a reactionary cavewoman … a desiccated calculating machine with a head full of figures”, “the most mean and vicious member of a mean and vicious government” who put an end to free school milk for primary schoolchildren.

    A few months later, the TV producer Gordon Reece began the long process by which the millionaire’s decorative wife with the fake, cut-glass accent was made over into the no-nonsense grocer’s daughter who in 1975 would become leader of the Conservative party. On Reece’s advice, Thatcher changed her hairstyle, gave up low necklines, eschewed hats, wore pastel shades, kept her hands out of sight, and struggled to lower her voice. In return she was more than happy to keep him primed with expensive champagne and cigars at the party’s expense. Never before had a British party leader been so packaged. The British electorate bought the package. Margaret Thatcher, housewife superstar, became prime minister on 4 May 1979. Reece would be there whenever she needed him, which in those early days was often.

    The notion that Thatcherism is 30 years old may be beguiling, but it is essentially misleading. Thatcher’s job was to present strategies that had been tried before in a way that would make them acceptable to a new generation of voters. She was not herself an economist, and her understanding of the how of what she wanted to do lagged way behind her understanding of the what, but even that was never more than superficial. She urged Britain to be great again, lamented the very thought that Britain was in decline, spoke of herself as following in “Winston’s” footsteps – all nonsense that, recycled through the tabloid press, made her look and sound heroic.

    She was fond of saying that she knew her own mind, but that was really all she knew. Certainly she mastered her every brief in astonishing detail, but she used the data as ammunition, pelting her adversaries with assertions they couldn’t counter. She used the same technique to discomfit her civil servants, ambushing them with searching challenges of her own devising. She never defined an overall strategy, developed no theory of the state, had scant regard for democracy, and no scruples whatsoever. Thatcher’s Thatcherism was whatever worked. Thatcherism is now being vilified throughout the English-speaking world as an evil ideology that exalted greed and selfishness to the point of unstringing the sinews of the body politic. It was never anything so systematic.

    A story is often told of how, when she was leader of the opposition, Thatcher turned up at a seminar at the Centre for Policy Studies with a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, banged it down on the table and declared “This is what we believe”. She claimed to have first read Hayek when she was at Oxford, but her version of his arguments is one he might not have recognised. Her commitment to a free market, wealth creation and lower taxation was absolute. She had no time for Hayek’s misgivings and probably never knew that he believed that “probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rules of thumb, above all of the principle of laissez-faire capitalism”. “Wooden insistence” describes Thatcher’s style exactly. Capitalism needs strong and stable government. Free trade depends on the power of governments to order markets, by establishing and policing systems of uniform weights and measures, stabilising the currency, enforcing the law to protect the rights of traders and clients, and managing labour relations. The machinery of bank regulation proliferated under Thatcher, but what developed even faster was the culture of circumvention and bamboozlement, of which she herself was mistress. Success and profit were identical. Her career shows a bland disregard of the principles of honest dealing that ought to underpin the free market in which she had such blind faith. One of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century will be how on earth she got away with it.

    From her first days in power Thatcher developed and refined ways of circumventing political protocol and procedure, partly because hers was usually a minority opinion. She liked to forestall opposition by making statements to the media that had not been agreed in cabinet, and she would sidestep cabinet altogether when she could. She didn’t scruple to undermine her cabinet colleagues by criticising them in the house and beyond, breaking all the rules of masculine collegiality. She didn’t always give credit where credit was due and sometimes claimed credit for the ideas and initiatives of others, as in the case of privatisation, to which she was a late convert.

    Her high-handedness became more obvious after the Falklands war, which she elevated into a moral crusade to defend civilisation as we know it. She treated the victory in the Falklands as confirmation of her own fitness to rule, to take the tough decisions and see them through, whether her colleagues in government agreed with her or not. (Her triumphalism remains undented, though it has been estimated that more of the British men who fought in the Falklands have taken their own lives since the war than were killed during it.)

    Thatcher’s rather patchy ideology became the new consensus by default. In November 1984 the Financial Times pointed out that “Thatcherite economic policies are not very different from or better or worse than those to which other European governments, whether called conservative as in Germany or socialist as in France, have found their way.”

    Only where dealing in arms was concerned did she display the kind of recklessness and lack of scruple that is now being blamed for the global financial crisis, and that she did from the beginning of her first term of office. On 29 January 1981 a meeting of the overseas and defence committee of the cabinet, chaired by Thatcher, agreed to interpret the Anglo-American ban on exporting arms to either side in the Iran-Iraq war more flexibly than was honest. Within months the arms-trade subsidiary of the Ministry of Defence was building an integrated weapons complex in Basra, and over the following years the “defence allocation” to Iraq continued to multiply. Iraq did not pay up; the extent of the defaulting is not known, but this particular toxic debt had probably grown close to £3bn by the time the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and all bets were off.

    The deals Thatcher made later, and apparently off her own bat, were impenetrably secret, the amounts of money vast. She sold armaments to King Hussein of Jordan, President Suharto of Indonesia and President Pinochet of Chile, offering them massive amounts of easy credit and the full support of the export credit system. In April 1985, after a series of meetings with the Saudi defence minister’s son, one of them when she was away from Westminster on holiday in Salzburg, she set up the Al-Yamamah contract worth £40bn, to be paid partly in oil. It is has been reported that her son, Mark Thatcher, was paid commission of between £12m and £20m, although he has denied it.

    The results of an investigation into the Al-Yamamah contract by the National Audit Office have never been made public. Other people must have been involved in putting together a deal of such complexity, but they were not Thatcher’s cabinet colleagues. In 1988, there was another hush-hush meeting in Bermuda when Thatcher was on her way to Australia. It is this behaviour that connects Thatcher in the most direct way with the gung-ho hedge fund managers of today.

    Thatcher’s peculiar handling of the Westland affair, which resulted in the resignation of her defence secretary, Michael Heseltine, is best explained as a by-product of the Al-Yamamah negotiations, of which Heseltine obviously knew nothing. After Heseltine’s resignation, the attorney general demanded an investigation into the leak of the letter from the law officer that discredited him, a leak that was almost certainly engineered by Thatcher herself. She managed to evade responsibility, but some who saw her performance in the house were convinced she was lying. For the first time talk of a leadership challenge could be heard. For Thatcher to take such a risk in a relatively minor matter, which on the face of it could have been sorted by direct confrontation, only makes sense if she was desperate to hide a game being played for much higher stakes. Just what that game was, and who stood to gain by it, is still unclear .

    Similar opacity and unaccountability characterise Thatcher’s use of the aid budget to finance projects such as the Pergau dam in Malaysia, in return for an agreement to buy British military hardware. In the case of the Pergau dam, the deal turned out to be illegal and £65m had to be refunded to the Treasury, but by then Thatcher was long gone. Otherwise she liked to use the aid budget to finance lucrative contracts for British firms, Amec, Balfour Beatty, BICC and GEC, most of them major donors to the Conservative party.

    Margaret Thatcher would have said herself that in cooking up these massive deals she was batting for Britain, as she did when she went to Oman to secure a large construction deal for Cementation Ltd, who were employing Mark Thatcher as a consultant. It is hard to imagine Margaret’s husband Denis Thatcher or her daughter Carol being privy to her billion-pound wheeling and dealing, but Mark is a different matter.

    It is odd that the housewife superstar who never tired of telling the rest of us how to live, and how to mind the pennies, should have reared a son who is a chancer, and an inept one at that. Even so he is reported to have a fortune of £60m, much of it, according to “City sources”, held in offshore accounts. In 1998 he was investigated on suspicion of loan-sharking. He has settled a court case in the US where he was accused of racketeering, and has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in connection with his involvement in a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in which it has been suggested Jeffrey Archer was also involved. Mark lived with his widowed mother in Belgravia while the case was proceeding, but now lives in Spain with his second wife. If his mother sacrificed her own integrity to put her son in the way of easy money, it was not enough to keep him close to her. Her grandchildren by his first wife are being raised in America. Except for her faithful female staff, Lady Thatcher is now alone.

    When I caught up with her last year, at the Archers’ midsummer luncheon party at the Old Vicarage in Grantchester, she had abandoned any pretence of housewifeliness. She was resplendent in electric blue brocade and pearls, stiff champagne-tinted hair framing her face like a translucent diadem. The bloom on her fair skin was peach-like, the pink of her lipstick vivid, the blue of her eyes only slightly faded. Of all the people dutifully milling around her it was Jeffrey Archer who drew the most vivacious response. He was at her side for most of the afternoon, soothing and flattering her until she glowed. If she knew that he had been banished from the Conservative party for five years, if she remembered that he had served time in prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice, she didn’t care. Margaret Thatcher, the grocer’s daughter, keeper of the moral high ground, was basking in the attentions of a convicted criminal.

    Even as Thatcher was putting a good deal of energy into projecting herself as a dutiful housewife, who made her husband’s breakfast every morning before coming to the Commons, and rushed home to put his tea on the table every evening, she spent a surprising amount of time entertaining faintly and not so faintly disreputable men. For 10 years her closest confidant was the Murdoch journalist Woodrow Wyatt, turncoat, snob and flamboyant lecher, a man whom her father would probably have kicked out of doors. She was fascinated by the sexual transgressions of her heterosexual male colleagues. She found it easy to charm such men, by giving them her full attention and treating their every word as profound. Men who were immune to her blandishments were relegated to the second division. She snubbed her predecessor, Edward Heath, never offered him any job that he could accept and never invited him to social occasions at Downing Street.

    Women simply didn’t count. The two women who appeared at her side in 1979 did not last long. Janet Young, who accompanied her on the battlebus in the election campaign of April-May 1979, and served briefly as a member of her first cabinet before being packed off in 1981 to be leader of the Lords, is now chiefly remembered for her intransigent opposition to gay rights. Sally Oppenheim served as minister of state for consumer affairs in the Department of Trade from 1979 to 1982, before being bumped up to the Lords in her turn.

    Thatcher was exclusively a man’s woman, beginning with her performance of the role of her father’s daughter. Though questioned repeatedly, she had nothing to say about her relationship with her mother, except that she taught her to iron a shirt, but she regularly invoked the figure of her hard-working, god-fearing father. Useful as she found the idea of him, she didn’t spend much time with the man himself. Once she left Grantham to go to Oxford, she seldom returned. As soon as ever she could she ditched her Lincolnshire accent, together with her family’s Methodist faith. What Thatcher did, as distinct from what she said, ran completely counter to her father’s morality, which dictated that you didn’t buy anything you couldn’t pay for, that debts were to be discharged promptly, and that the better-heeled accepted responsibility for the weak and disadvantaged.

    She told the journalist and broadcaster Brian Walden in 1981 that her father regarded the stock market as a form of gambling, and yet she presided over the expansion of the debtor economy and the liberalisation of banking, beginning the process that all her successors, whether Tory or New Labour, were to continue. The father dedicated himself to the welfare of his community; the daughter disabled local government. As prime minister, Thatcher worked hard to give the impression that she was close in fact and in spirit to her father, dragging him into discussions of all kinds of issues, but the facts of her rise to wealth and power suggest that she was actually in flight from him. When she prated of how she herself was witness to the fact that anyone could rise to the highest eminence, she omitted to mention that you had first to catch your millionaire, or that it helped greatly if he happened to play golf with the editor of the Daily Telegraph.

    Alfred Roberts is credited with endowing his daughter with an exceptionally powerful moral sense. She certainly claimed that she had such a thing, and denounced every kind of behaviour or policy she was not prepared to endorse as morally wrong. But where her favourites were concerned, she was prepared to countenance truly reprehensible behaviour.

    When she appointed Jeffrey Archer deputy chairman of the Conservative party in 1984, she knew full well that he had a mistress. Archer promised to give her up, but the break was anything but clean, and very painful for the woman involved. A year later, a business colleague informed the News of the World that Archer had been involved with a prostitute called Monica Coghlan, who was persuaded by the paper to take part in a sting operation. On 24 October 1986, she was filmed and audiotaped at Victoria station, receiving £2,000 in £50 notes from Michael Stacpoole, acting for Archer, apparently as a bribe to get her to disappear. Archer admitted giving Coghlan travel funds, but successfully sued the Daily Star for printing that he had paid Coghlan for sex. The judge’s summing up was bizarre, but even stranger was the failure by any of the newspapers involved to challenge the verdict. The Daily Star ended up £1.2m out of pocket in fines and costs. It wasn’t until Archer was running for mayor of London in 1999 that his witnesses began recanting. In September 2000, he was charged with perjury, tried, found guilty and sentenced to four years in jail. Throughout all these vicissitudes, he was still Thatcher’s white-haired boy.

    Thatcher showed a similar lack of conscience in dealing with her protégé Cecil Parkinson. She knew when she chose him to head the Department of Trade and Industry in June 1983 that he was involved with his private secretary, Sara Keays, and had ordered him to give her up and return to his wife if he wanted the job. Parkinson had asked Keays, a loyal Conservative and hard worker for the party, to marry him as long before as 1979; in May 1983, when she told him that she was pregnant, he apparently changed his mind, only to change it back again in June. Once again he asked her to marry him. Then Thatcher got to him, and in September he informed Keays that he had gone back to his wife.

    Keays remains convinced that Thatcher had organised the press campaign in which she was consistently belittled, accused of seeking to entrap Parkinson and even told to abort her pregnancy. In Keays’s words, Thatcher “allowed the authority of her office to be used to propagate lies in the media in order to conceal the true facts from the public and to discredit [her]”. In 1993, after disagreements about maintenance payments, Parkinson, who had never met his daughter, took out an injunction forbidding the British media from making any reference to her, which actually resulted in muzzling anyone from making any complaint about his callous behaviour. An operation when the child was four to remove a brain tumour has left her with learning difficulties; she also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.

    Despite his thoroughly contemptible behaviour, Thatcher’s fondness for Parkinson, whom she was grooming to succeed her, continued unabated. “He thinks very much the same way as I do and is a great source of strength,” she liked to say. “If Cecil says not to do it, we won’t do it.” Parkinson was one person who knew how to reassure her and how to keep her calm in a crisis. She would have brought him back to cabinet soon after he resigned, but wiser heads convinced her that he would have to stand for re-election first. She would have made him chancellor in 1987, but had to content herself with making him energy secretary. When she resigned as leader in 1990, Parkinson resigned with her. He is now in the House of Lords as Baron Parkinson of Carnforth. Meanwhile Sarah Keays struggles to give her daughter as good a life as she can.

    What is clear from any reading of the vast mass of documentation of the Thatcher years is that Thatcher herself is not the author of Thatcherism, which is a thing of shreds and patches. It was put together, as her public persona was, in response to a series of pressures originating in circumstances beyond government control. For years it had been clear that whoever ruled Britain was going to have to deal with the problem of failing industries, excessive public spending, and the power of the elite trade unions. Heath tried to do it and was defeated by the seven-week miners’ strike in 1974, called an election and lost to Labour who pursued similar policies with a similar lack of success. By the time Thatcher was elected in 1979, the public was out of patience with the unions. She had a mandate to deal with them, but she had to proceed with caution. All observers note how timid she was in her first period in office. When the Russians dubbed her the Iron Lady in 1976, they did her a huge favour. The sobriquet enabled her to appear strong and confident, when all the while she was walking on eggshells.

    Even as she bulldozed and dragooned her cabinet colleagues, behind the scenes Thatcher was doing as she was told, by Reece, Parkinson and Tim Bell. Bell’s charm is legendary; one eulogist claimed that dogs would cross the street to be stroked by him. Thatcher is supposed to have enjoyed sipping scotch on the sofa with her two “laughing boys” Reece and Bell after a hard day in the house. The words she uttered were written for her by Ronald Millar, and subsequently tinkered with by her. Millar, a playwright, used to say that he treated her like an actress before a performance. He did not say, as others might have, that she was a bad actress, which she certainly was. Whether she was intoning the prayer of St Francis on the steps of Downing Street or gushing about the capitalist system being divinely ordained, she was unconvincing. A particular problem was that she never understood any of the jokes that Millar and Bell wrote for her.

    Having succeeded in restyling the product, Reece and Bell set about building relationships with the media that would sell it for them. Thatcher was rolled out for meeting after meeting with newspaper editors, with whom she behaved as prettily as they could have desired. As owner of the News of the World and the Sun, Rupert Murdoch had the power to drive the manufactured image of Thatcher as lower-middle-class heroine deep into the national consciousness, but he was initially slow to come on board. In 1970, after the milk-snatching episode, the Sun had labelled Thatcher the most unpopular woman in Britain and voiced a doubt as to whether she was actually human. In 1975 Reece set about courting Larry Lamb, the editor of the Sun, assuring him that Thatcher’s policies represented the real interests of working people.

    It was the Sun that dubbed Thatcher “Maggie” and created for her an entirely new persona, concentrating on good housekeeping values and the breathy rhetoric of making Britain great again. When she was elected in 1979, the Sun exulted: “At the exact moment when the grocer’s daughter from Grantham became the most important woman in the world, spring sprung [sic]. It did. It really did.” The alliance between the Maggie machine and the Murdoch media made possible the ultimate defeat of the print unions and the modernisation of the newspaper industry. And another brick was added to the rising edifice of Thatcherism.

    Thatcher’s strength derived directly from her limitations. If she had been better read, if she had been afflicted with imagination, if she had had a sense of humour, if she had had anywhere near as much insight into the lives of ordinary people as she claimed to have, she would have been unable to pursue her headlong career, riding roughshod over the consensus towards the property-owning debtor economy in which we now struggle. If socialism had been in better shape, she would not have been able to turn it into a dirty word or confuse it with totalitarianism and state monopoly capitalism. If the trade unions had not betrayed their own class, if they had understood the importance of organising all workers, including women, including those in the service sector, if they had not institutionalised inequality, the people might have defended the cause of labour.

    Thatcher thought that she and Reagan overthrew the Soviet Union, but the fact is that, like old Labour, it simply fell apart. The Thatcher phenomenon was only made possible by the weakness and indecisiveness of the opposition. It is justice of the most poetic kind that Thatcher’s is now the evil empire and Thatcherism a dirty word.

  5. kruitvat says:

    Thatcher ‘a powerful advocate of NATO’

    NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Baroness Thatcher “strongly supported NATO values.”
    Deeply saddened by death of Baroness #Thatcher who was a staunch defender of freedom, a powerful advocate of #NATO

    FROM @ANDERSFOGHR ON TWITTER: (35 minutes ago)

    Lady #Thatcher strongly supported #NATO values,principles; believed in strong defence & played leading role in ending Cold War

    FROM @ANDERSFOGHR ON TWITTER: (33 minutes ago)

  6. kruitvat says:

    Verhofstadt and the federal European superstate

    January 18th, 2013

    Guy Verhofstadt calls David Cameron ‘a madman’. Britain should not have to listen to sneering Eurofederalists

    Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, arch-Eurofederalist, and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, has penned a piece for The Huffington Post railing against the idea of a British exit from the EU. He doesn’t mince his words with his views of David Cameron’s impending call for Britain to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union:
    Cameron will not succeed if he attempts to hold his European partners to ransom, exchanging acquiescence to EU treaty change over the eurozone for a unilateral repatriation of powers. Moreover, the rest of the EU knows that stability and economic recovery in the eurozone is vital to the UK’s own economic interests. Some have said Cameron is not going to get his way by pointing a gun at everyone else’s head. I believe a more apt metaphor would be that of a madman, threatening to blow himself up unless he gets his own way.
    Verhofstadt represents a deeply closed mindset in Brussels that still supports the notion of ever closer union despite the myriad problems afflicting the European Project. For Verhofstadt and his colleagues the very idea of EU member states carving opt-outs on various policies is absolute anathema. Any challenge to the established order, to the dream of a federal European superstate, is sheer heresy.
    Verhofstadt’s rigid views are not just representative of his own group in the European Parliament. They are the dominant sentiments held by a significant majority of Europe’s political elite, from the upper echelons of the European Commission to the halls of the German Chancellery. (See also this YouTube video posted by Dan Hannan earlier this week, where Verhofstadt openly mocks the UK in a speech to the European Parliament.)
    As Verhofstadt’s comments show, the idea that London will be able to successfully renegotiate its relationship with the EU and re-shape the Union in Britain’s image is a fantasy. If David Cameron is serious about defending British sovereignty there can be only one option – supporting a British exit from the EU, and pledging to hold a referendum before, not after, the next general election. Britain is a great nation with a proud history, whose soldiers liberated Brussels in 1944. It does not need to take any lessons from a pompous Belgian politician who can barely disguise his contempt for the country that selflessly freed his own people from tyranny just two generations ago.

  7. kruitvat says:

    Two European politicians, George Galloway and Nigel Farage, who have recently spoken out in parliament against war might serve as role models for others:

    And Belgian MP, Laurent Louis, may be considered a hero by many anti-war activists as he speaks in parliament against neo-colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East:

    Those who believe oil is the reason for ME wars may want to follow German analyst Christof Lehmann, who claims in 2013, it is gas.


    Note: Belgian MP, Laurent Louis, is, like Baby Thatcher Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European liberals pleading for heavy weapons deliveries to the so called ‘Free Syrian Army’, an important member of the liberal party…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s