Baroness Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, has died from a stroke, aged 87 years.
Despite receiving an M.Sc in Chemistry from Oxford University, she had relatively little to do with engineering, except by way of what some would see as her political sins of omission and commission. However, there is no doubt that her three terms as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 took the country in a radically different direction to the one it had been taking, and have therefore markedly influenced the free-wheeling but fragmented electronics landscape that exists in the U.K. today.
It was Margaret Thatcher, an incoming Conservative Party prime minister in 1979, who masterminded the dismantling of the National Enterprise Board, a U.K. government body that was set up to implement a policy of public ownership of, and investment in, industry.
One result of this was that the ownership of Inmos Ltd. -- previously a government-funded pioneer of parallel processing, was passed to Thorn EMI -- which quite frankly did not know what to do with it, apart from milking a few SRAM patents for royalties. Thorn EMI eventually passed the Inmos buck on to STMicroelectronics in 1989.
Thatcher stood well to the right of center of the political spectrum on economic matters. She took it on as an almost personal crusade to roll back the tide of state intervention that had become the accepted norm in post-war Britain up until her first term as prime minister.
As well as cutting direct taxes and government spending and privatizing state-owned industries and companies, she was also committed to reducing the power of the trade unions in the U.K. This resulted in physical violence and battles between striking coal miners and police officers at picket lines. High unemployment was the short-term consequence of her economic policies and this combination made her a figure of hate amongst some socialists and people of the far left.
The illusion of the UK still being an independent world power burned to ashes that day in 1982 when the RN warship Essex ( with Aluminum / Magnesium superstructure ! )caught fire when hit by a French Exocet missile fired from an obsolete Argentinian A-4 Fighter Bomber in the Malvinas ( Falklands ). She had to implore pal Ronnie to replace the RAF's obsolete Sidewinders ( with just Si IR detectors ) with a whole load of AIM 9L with more sensitive thermo-electrically cooled CdTe IR detectors in a hurry. Thatcher the Milk-Snatcher was a realist who saw that industry in post-war UK had fallen so far behind even its once defeated continental competitors ( France & Germany ) that she threw in the towel and took advantage of the growing anglophilia in Reaganite US ( a witches brew of regressive anti - democratic monarchism and recidivist anglo - suprematism fomented by the likes of Alastair Cooke ) to turn the UK economy as a post - Industial Parasite feeding off the still thriving US. The outcome has been good for the UK ( obsolete coal mines & even electronics Co. like RACAL etc. now replaced by "purely white collar" Cambridge based ARM & the reinvigorated & scam prone City of London ). But the consequences for the US has been disastrous - not just in the 2008 Meltdown where many of the principal players were glib punters from across the pond who used their toff accent to give cover to our own local crooks, but also in the growing UK influence / manipulation to milk these once lost Colonies made prosperous by the hard work of generations of Germans & Scandinavians of the Mid West. Blair lying about Saddam's non existent Yellow Cake to justify W invading Iraq is an outcome of the post - industrial Artful Dodger Fagin like UK created by Thatcher.
Sad to hear this news.
Margaret Thatcher's strident tone might have offended the faint of heart, but it is essentially her legacy that has kept the UK out of the Eurozone, and somewhat protected from the welfare state mentality that is bringing down so many in that Eurozone (if not ultimately the Euro itself).
You will note that many of the same industrial changes that have occurred in the US have also occurred in the UK and many other European countries. Many, many old-time company names have vanished or are in the process. Pretending that artificially propping them up with taxpayers' Pounds will restore vitality is a losing proposition. The current UK government knows this too, but it was not well appreciated before the Iron Lady.
As to the Falklands, how ironic that they are in the news again. We are in the 21st Century. If "self determination" was not utterly well understood by the latter part of the 20th Century, it SHOULD be understood by now. The long-term residents of these islands associate themselves with the UK, not with Argentina. Too bad, so sad, it was even true in 1982. No conceivable reason to reopen this fiasco. So, end of discussion. Doesn't matter what the school children in Argentina are "taught."
As to the US economy meltdown of 2008, I think it's a heck of a stretch to put that on the UK. Rather, look at the housing industry that precipitated it, the misguided government programs to force houses on those who could not afford them, and how government eliminated the safeguards the lending institutions had, with promises of "guarantees." Always good to look within first, before blaming the other guy. I know this may not be politic.
When the dust settles, she will be considered one of the top leaders on the world stage. She understood the fundamental need to stop going down the easy paths to destruction and to take on the true task of leading a country forward.
She had the guts to look people in the eye and tell them they were wrong!
We could use more people like her.
Just my opinion.
The tone of the message is a bit harsh, but I agree with most of the points. UK seems to have bailed out of manufacturing, not because it lacks the knowledge, but because the society does not value technical profession. Britons have grown lazy. It is far more prestigious to be an investment banker in the City moving $$$ from one corner to another, or else a member of outdated aristocracy living off hereditary estates. Perhaps Thatcher saw it more clearly than most, and decided not to fight a losing battle trying to rescue what was already lost. I also agree on the negative influence of the "City" culture in the US, which had traditionally been a great manufacturing and technological power.
I'm an outsider, not being from the UK, and I understand how polarizing many political figures are, so I'm always hesitant to comment on political matters, but I do have comments here.
I always had an incredible amount of respect for Margaret Thatcher. She stood shoulder to shoulder with Reagan, toe to toe with Mikhail Gorbachev. The three of them ended the cold war peacefully. Anyone who can do that is a great leader in my book. I understand that a lot of people don't see it that way, but I do. As someone who grew up always 30 minutes from potential nuclear annihilation, I will be ever grateful.
In terms of the economic fall-out, my belief is that we are in the middle of a period of change every bit as dramatic and disruptive to the world economy as was the industrial revolution. It's just all happening a lot faster this time. I think we have even more change coming up over the next thirty years.
When that sort of thing happens, holding on to the old way of doing things will not help you. It may delay the inevitable a bit, but not for long.