Free Life 24, December 1995, Margaret Thatcher “The Path to Power”, Reviewed by Sean Gabb

From Free Life, Issue 24, December 1995
ISSN: 0260 5112

The Path to Power
Margaret Thatcher
Harper Collins, London, 1995, 656 pp., £25 (hbk)
(ISBN 0 00 255050 4)

This is a book written in two parts. The first describes how a young woman from Lincolnshire is elected to Parliament, and then, between 1959 and 1979, rises through various Government and Shadow posts, to become leader of the Conservative Party and finally Prime Minister. The second is an account of her thinking since 1990, when she suffered a political reverse.

She seems to have been rather liberal. Take this on taxation:

Chancellors of the Exchequer, wary of increases in basic income tax, laid particular importance on checking tax avoidance and evasion, repeatedly extending Inland Revenue powers to do so. Both as a tax lawyer and from my own instinctive dislike of handing more power to bureaucracies, I felt strongly on the matter…. [p.116]

Or this on surveillance:

Depriving human beings of their privacy has the intended psychological effect of making them withdrawn, introverted and incapable of the communication based on mutual trust which permits civil society. [p.356]

Or this on the rule of law:

…I was increasingly fascinated by the mysterious and cumulative process by which the courts of England had laid the foundations of English freedom. [p.84]

Looking at her name and photograph, I see a resemblance to another female politician, who was our Prime Minister during the 1980s – a period on which this book is rather vague. But we all remember whom I mean. She gave England its first real taste of centralised despotism in more than 300 years. She took an axe to the Common Law, smashing down freedoms that had required centuries to grow, and gave the State unprecedented powers of surveillance and control. She increased the burden of tax on ordinary families, and spent billions on the encouragement of idleness and despair. When she was at last removed from power, her more besotted admirers compared her with Julian the Apostate – though anyone else could see she had long since become a second Diocletian.

Might these two politicians be somehow related? Perhaps Norman Stone, or whoever else ghosted this turgid pap, should tell us.

Stuart Pemberton (Sean Gabb) 

© 1995 – 2018, seangabb.

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