Margaret Thatcher understood value of Mondeo Man

Margaret Thatcher understood something most of our modern day politicians have either forgotten or never understood to start with: people love to be inspired, and they love to strive for self-improvement

Maggie knew something...
Robin Mitchinson
On 20 November 2014 12:12

Maggie Thatcher had it just right; she knew exactly the voter that she should appeal to. He was dubbed ‘Mondeo man’, typified by the Essex diamond geezer who had set up his own business, and did well under the Tories.

Another phenomenon was the ‘barrow boy’, the young guy from East London, Basildon, Southend who became a dealer in the City after the ‘big-bang’ (another Maggie revolution) sent the 3-hour lunch traditional city-types into history.

Their standard tipple was champagne instead of lager. They drove Beemers. They were working class, sons and daughters of dockers and Dagenham wage-slaves. But they had ambition, drive, guts, and a risk-taking mentality.

Two Thatcherite measures were revolutionary in that they created a new class of proletarian capitalists, the ‘property owning democracy’.

The first was the sale of council houses at heavily discounted prices. It brought home-ownership to millions who earlier could only have dreamt of it. The economic effect was immeasurable, giving a valuable asset to people who formerly had none.

It slashed the deficits on Councils’ housing revenue accounts. Many sold expensive inner-city properties when the moratoria on re-sale expired, and bought nicer houses in the suburbs; social mobility in action!

Now first-time buyers have been virtually forced out of the market by the failure of Government housing policies leading to rapid price-inflation.

The second was the opportunity for ordinary people to become small shareholders when they got preferential treatment in the ‘Tell Sid’ privatisation of nationalised industries. It’s a mystery why Cameron failed to do this with Royal Mail.

1980 to 1990 was a golden, exciting age. ‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; but to be young was very heaven’.

But more than 20 years ago I predicted that a political vacuum was being created post-Maggie by the abandonment by all parties of the great mass of predominantly white, working-class people. The emphasis switched to the rights – real or imagined – of minorities ((a former Mayor of London vouchsafed that if you bribed enough minorities with council grants you ended up with a majority).

By 2,000 or thereabouts politicians with working class backgrounds were becoming an endangered species. The old sons-of-toil who had worked on the factory floor or down the pit, and had served during the war, were the victims of change and time and were mostly displaced by college boys.

Middle-class Labour councillors would prescribe all-in wrestling as the entertainment of choice at the local theatre for ‘our people’, when actually the man from the Ford Tractor factory wanted something rather more cerebral and his little daughter wanted the ballet.

(Incidentally the Essex Farmers Hunt was heavily biased towards second-hand car salesmen made-good, people in ‘tyres’, small builders and so on. The wrong target for the class-warriors).

Under Brown, when regulation of the City was almost scrapped, the professional spivs moved in from around the globe and we went into freefall in 2008.

Governments have pursued causes fashionable amongst the Notting Hill elites, such as banning fox hunting, and  smoking just about everywhere, gay ‘marriage’, whilst the economy went to hell in a handcart, unemployment rose uncontrollably, retirees saw their investment incomes collapse when interest rates went south, pitiful educational standards produced a generation of illiterates, and the NHS veered between crisis and scandal.

They fostered the great myth of the ‘multicultural society’. We will long suffer the consequences of that misguided price of social engineering.

And they involved Britain in a pointless war in Afghanistan, the longest continuous conflict ever whilst slashing the defence budget to pay for a 37 percent increase in foreign aid.

Immigration has only recently become a respectable topic of conversation amongst the chattering classes, who have belatedly woken up to the fact that it has become a major political issue, especially amongst those who, unlike the elite, have to live with the consequences of a flood of aliens.

The Tories must appeal to ‘white van-man’.

Too many politicians are recruited from people of the wrong sort. They represent a class that has no means of understanding the concerns of what used to be known as ‘People of the middling-sort’, the aspirational working-class family who want to get on.

Today, politicians of all stripes are almost wholly alienated from the people. They have no idea whatsoever what it is like trying to bring up a family when jobs are uncertain, education is questionable, law-and-order tends to fix on criminalising ordinary folk with a whole spate of new offences that would have been regarded as either risible or oppressive a decade earlier. Hate speech, indeed. Smoking in the pub.

The Westminster village where the political elite lives – not just politicians but their camp-followers in the media, lobbyists, PR hacks and the rest -- is like a US ‘gated community’. Its denizens know little and care less about what happens outside the gates.

But, as the old cliché would have it, ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. UKIP is filling it.

Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world

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