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.
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 $$$ from one corner to another, or else a member of outdated aristocracy living off hereditary estates. Perhaps Thatcher saw it more clearly than most, and decided not to fight a losing battle trying to rescue what was already lost. I also agree on the negative influence of the "City" culture in the US, which had traditionally been a great manufacturing and technological power.
"UK seems to have bailed out of manufacturing, not because it lacks the knowledge, but because the society does not value technical profession. Britons have grown lazy. It is far more prestigious to be an investment banker in the City moving $$$ from one corner to another, or else a member of outdated aristocracy living off hereditary estates"
If you look at the manufacturing base of most "Western" countries you will find they have been in decline over the last 30+ years and are now a much lower percentage of GDP than previously. I think you'll find that's because we've found it cheaper (at least for now) to have manfactured in other countries (e.g. China)
The mistake made by the Argentinians was assuming Britain *wouldn't* fight over the Falklands. Do you suggest it *shouldn't* have? Say so to the people living in the Falklands who identify with the UK. Don't expect a polite response.
And the problem was less the obsolete Sidewinders than the fact that the air defense systems were programmed to recognize the Exocet as a "friendly" missile. and could not respond in time.
Blaming Thatcher for the US woes is stretching a point, even for hyperbole. and betrays a misunderstanding of how the US (and world, for that matter) financial system works.
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.
Don't be so hard on Bubba. The new definition of "is" is right next to the definition of "fathful".
Besides, I find compliment in herr resistion's dirision. Take what he said and it follows that heavy use of the brain in the younger years leads to breakdown in the latter years.
The opposite could also be true too. Think about that next time you meet one of those sharp-as-a-tack liberal septegenarians. Like Bob Woodward. (Oops! He dissed BHO, so he's dumb and senile now.)
I didn't mean to be deriding or disrespectful. To me, it really is an uncanny coincidence. The other commonality is their conservative leadership.
Maybe this would be a good justification for term limits?
Thank you for the clarification. On this we will agree: there are any number of sound justifactions for term limits. But specific to those two, both of thier positions were/are already term limited and their contributions had been well made before they reached that stage.
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.
I totally agree with you about the "Information Revolution" which is going on around us.
And with your comment that sticking to old methods will not help.
However, there are some truths, rights, wrongs, ways of behaving that do persist and will persist.
It is necessary to be able to understand how implemement the long-lasting moral certainties within the revolutionary technical framework.
"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."
Exactly right. The world is increasingly flat, and the economy is increasingly global.
We are all in favor of competition when it benefits us in terms of more choice and lower prices. We are less happy when *we* are the ones who must compete.
Information technology is fueling an increasing rate of change, and making whole classes of jobs obsolete, because a machine *can* now do them.
In the world we are increasingly living in, you can't be ignorant, and you can't be stupid. You must know how to do things, and be able to constantly learn to do new things, to have skills anyone will pay for.
There will be large numbers of people who simply won't *get* jobs because thre will be none for them to do. The challenge is what they do instead, and everyone is grappling with it.
Duane, you are correct in noting that there were three people who ended the cold war, but you err in identifying one of them. The Cold War was ended by Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul 2. Gorby was a bystander.
C VanDorne - you've given me a bit of a research project. I hadn't thought of Pope John Paul playing a role, but I'm certainly going to read up on it. I was a young adult while all of that was going on and it was an exciting, fascinating and frightening time. I'll keep my opinion of Gorbachev's role, but I want to hear more on the Pope's role.
Read John O'Sullivan's "The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World". Not a weekend read, but the rewards are worth the effort. And God help us if we don't elect more leaders like them.
Peter Clarke should have published his obituary somewhere else and not in a reputable trade magazine at which he works.
His was an insulting misuse of his editorial position and requires reprimand.
Regarding all these glorifications of little UK -- let's remember who first used chemical WMD weapons in Iraq -- another "giant" Winston Churchil...
I am not sure where else Peter should/could have published his obituary of Baroness Thatcher -- he is a staff editor responsible for contributing both comments and news. While I do not share all his political allegiances --as became obvious during the first editorial conference we held on Electronics Times , many years back -- his commentary was absolutely balanced .
"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.""
Yep. I once worked for a bank, qand the area I was in did mortgage lending among other things, so I got a good view of the process.
Home ownership is one of the cherished notions in the US. The savings and loan industry essentially existed to assist home ownership: it took in funds in the form of savings deposits, and lent it out as mortgages, making a living off the difference in what it paid for funds and what it got for loans. It began to stagnate and die as people started getting other, higher yielding places to put their funds.
Many folks want to get a mortgage and own a home. For a lot of the folks getting "sub-prime" mortgages, owning their own home was a critical step in moving from "lower class" to "middle class" status, as home ownership is a miffle class attribute.
Many folks who wanted mortgages couldn't get them from a regular lender, as they weren't
credit worthy by bank standards, and a class of lender arose to serve them, offering "sub-prime" mortgages. Like traditional mortgage lenders, sub-prime mortgage lenders packaged loans they originated and sold them on the secondary market, using the proceeds to fund more loans.
The institutions that bought the packages saw triple A ratings on them, because the loans were backed by real property, and added them to their portfolio. Because of teh triple A ratings, they didn't examine the value of the underlying assets.
Everybody screwed up by the numbers, and the bubble burst when the economy took a turn and there was sudden realization that no one really knew what those packages of sub-prime loans were worth.
I saw a lot of commentary back when it first happened suggesting that the bankers in question should be jailed. The only problem was that they hadn't broken any laws. Greedy? Yes. Short-sighted? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Alas, none of those things are illegal and carry jail sentences.
EE Times is a trade publication covering the electronics industry. Government policies affect the industry and are legitimate items to cover. National leaders who designed and implemented those policies are also legitimate things to cover. An obituary for a national leader whose policies had a profound effect on the electronics industry in Britain is quite appropriate, especially since it concentrates on the effect on the industry. How you feel about the leader in question is quite irrelevant.
OK - I will then suffer reading all these economic pontifications and lectures, which I still think are a misuse of my favorite trade magazine, in silence. I just hope that the wave of glorification of a right-wing politician and all things UK will soon pass.
I would rather read, for example, about process technologies used in PMUs for mobile processors. Apparently BCD technology is in big time.
In case you have forgotten your favorite trade magazine ( EE Times ) is now owned by UBM Tech, a UK Co. That should explain sme of the editorial policies and the gradual deviation from hardcore EE topics.
The Falkland Islands have been British for about the same length of time that Texas has belonged to the USA.
Tell you what, when you return Texas to the Mexicans, we will give the Falkland Islands to the Argentinians. Seems fair to me.
Watch what you wish for, Mr Lee. At this stage of the game, Texas would probably take that deal. But they'd tell you to keep your Falklands and before the ink dried they'd proudly declair independence from Mexico and go back to being the independent soveriegnty they once were. (Recall that we didn't get them from Mexico. Texas is the only state in the union to have once been its own country.)
Texas want to secede? Go, go, go! Take please Kansas, Missisipi etc etc (all the Stars-n-Bars, disbelief in evolution and global warning, pro-life, family values with the high teen pregnancy and divorce rates, obesity and all the other good things you have got there...).
We will set up ourselves up North pretty, cozy, rich and sofisticated American counterpart to Switzerlad or something like that ...
Ask yourselves if the UK can maintain a 1st world lifestyle and a "Disneyland" Monarchy / Aristocracy w/o the very one - way "special relationship" w/ the US, that has been the cornerstone of British policy ever since Churchill. No more easy War Profits from playing the Camp Follower, no more Cigars & Champagne, not even Top Hats !
Nothing wrong with the special relationship, for countries that have such similar roots. Ditto with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I'm all for it, even though my own family roots are NOT from that same tree. It's still a tree that I like very much.
My suspicion is that if the UK didn't have that "special relationship," perhaps it would have joined the Eurozone. No reason to think it would be less than it is. There are plenty of other monarchies in the Eurozone, right? Doesn't make much difference what title the head of state holds, seems to me.
Are you perhaps familiar with the well deserved term "perfidious Albion " coined by Napoleon ? The UK has always tried to turn the US against its continental competitors like France or Germany by using vile, insidious propaganda and Churchill was the principal practitioner of that. The two world wars of the last century were nothing more than wars of British jealousy against a superior Germany ( from which country the "Windsors", their own closet - German Monarchy is derived ) by recruiting US resources using vile propaganda since WW I ( "Belgian children bayoneted and thrown into wells", carrying munitions in the Lusitania, the fake Zimmerman telegram,.. ). Branding France a nation of " cheese eating surrender - monkeys " when Chirac resisted joining the invaion of Iraq under false pretexts was only the latest instalment of that perfidy.
Oh come now. WWII was about "British jealousy against superior Germany?" Give me a freakin' break.
I meant what I said. My own upbringing, education until college, and parents, are Italian and French. But when I came to the US, it was not IN SPITE OF the roots of the US culture. It was instead because of.
Nothing wrong with that. No reason to deny cultural roots, or to chant mea culpa about everything that's yours.
Branding France a nation of " cheese eating surrender - monkeys " when Chirac resisted joining the invaion of Iraq under false pretexts was only the latest instalment of that perfidy.
That's very funny, blaming the UK for that. It was first used in "The Simpsons"
I could tear apart your other blatant nonsense but what's the point? I will, however, remember it's all the UK's fault next time I visit Auschwitz
Being born and grown up in a communist country I certainly can appreciate some quite shrewd political deeds of Margie (and Ronnie, and lets not forget John Paul II...). However their economic legacy is less clear and quite qustionable. At least it would be fair to suggest that the current malignant simplistic conservative ecomics are NOT delivering what had been promised, if not ruining both US and UK ...
A friend who is politically to the left of me asked me once, "What did Reagan ever do for the common man?" To which I replied without hesitation, "He deregulated oil in 1981, which ended the recurring energy crises tout de suite."
I'm old enough to remember that oil was supposedly an exception to the rule, according to the common wisdom of that time. No way could oil be deregulated, we were told. Reagan wasn't listening, apparently, and made it happen based only on gut instinct or principle. At least in that one example, he was right on the money.
It's true that no extreme ever works right, but you will note what is happening now in the Eurozone, or even within Germany itself, between the ex-East Germany and ex-West Germany. The national economies/societies more heavily biased to public distribution of wealth are hurting badly. Those more like the US (or at least what I hope the US will remain), are recovering or even doing reasonably well.
I actually think that Mikhail Gorbachev was most instrumental in ending the Cold War. He saw that the Soviet Union could simply not afford to outspend the West in the arms race, and pull itself out economic stagnation at the same time. It was an incredible period of history to live through. The Polish rebellion, the Romanian overthrow of Nikolae Ceausesku, and the Strategic Defense Initiative, no doubt all contributed to his sense that something had to change drastically.
And durned if it didn't do just that.
Bert : at last you are right in one aspect ! Gorby deserves as much credit as anyone else for ending the Cold War. Last year I paid good money to attend a talk given by him and asked why he co-operated with Ray Gun and his side kick Maggie. Gorby's answer was " he wanted to end the sham that the USSR had become and let his people live the way a resource rich nation like Russia could afford to "
Speaking of sham, I was a fairly regular listener of Radio Moscow at the time. And one journalist in particular really really blew me away. Vladimir Posner.
Until Gorbachev, he was all strict party line. When Gorbachev came to power, it was like a breath of fresh air. He, Posner, was suddenly explaining on the radio how they had been made to spout the party rhetoric until then. Wow. Is this the same guy?
Such a weird time to live through.
So, what Gorbachev said to you makes perfect sense to me. But what you seem to miss is, Gorbachev was moving the USSR in the direction of the West -- openness, free markets, democracy -- just what Reagan and Thatcher stood for. He was NOT heading the USSR someplace different.
Whatever Gorbachev was trying to attempt was doomed to fail because he never attempted to address what eventually made Russia such sorry state as of now (and again...). Namely he did not try to destroy the security apparatus. Therfore he is still a mystery to me, because he should have well knonw that any westernization of Russia would fail ...
What's happening in Europe is much simpler: Germany loved its currency (euro) underappreciated (DM certainly was not!) and its exports cheaper, the EU South loved its access to North's (==Germany's) credits, everybody else loved being in the club, and by the way, apart from the treaty (which I bet some were signing with their fingers crossed) there is nothing to tell the govs about the fiscal policy. Now the party ended and everybody is waiting for the good times to start magically again. Redistribution, socialism etc is not a problem: Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Shweiz, EStonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Chechy are doing fine considering the state ofthe global economy. BTW: these are the countries whether in euro or not have more or less financial goevernance idependent bodies. Independent not only from goverments (we have that) but also from the business lobbies (we do NOT). As for the "Polish Rebellion": I think I need to thank CIA for all the printing supplies :-)
Looks like we have digressed a lot. Maggie was a great leader, who, I think, even many men of power cannot match. Sure she had her failures, but now that is called hind sight. I bet we all agree that she made a difference and a positive one at that.
I still remember that lady with a shock of curled hair, an unsmiling veneer and exuberance of toughness.