In May 1979 Maggie Thatcher stood outside 10 Downing Street and said: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.“
Her premiership brought riots, the destruction of industries, mass unemployment and a deeply divided Britain.
Thirty-seven years later Theresa May stood outside 10 Downing Street and said: “The Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by you. We won’t entrench advantages of the fortunate few. We will do everything to help you go as far as your talents can take you. We must fight the burning injustices. We must make Britain a country that works for everyone.”
And if you believe that, you probably think that Maggie turned Britain for the better.
The new prime minister may promise a fairer country which helps ordinary working people and cracks down on fat cats, but her track record suggests the opposite.
She backed the Tory-led coalition government’s decision to cut the 50p rate of tax for the richest earners (giving someone earning £1m a tax cut of more than £42,000) while hiking up VAT to 20 per cent – a move that costs a couple with children £450 a year.
Just last September she voted in favour of cutting tax credits for working people – a move that would have left more than three million working families an average of £1,300 worse off this year.
She consistently opposed, and voted against, Labour’s policy to freeze energy bills.
She has been at the heart of the government that has presided over an explosion in zero-hours contracts and watered down working people’s rights through the unfair Trade Union Act. There are currently just over 800,000 people on a zero-hours contract, up 15 per cent on the previous year.
Despite calling for greater transparency on banking bonuses, she was part of a government that refused to enact legislation which the last Labour Government had put on the statute book requiring banks to disclose the number of employees earning more than £1m. She says she wants to tackle corporate tax avoidance, but in February she voted against a motion calling on the government to achieve a swift international agreement to implement country-by-country reporting of company accounts.
And she also said the National Minimum Wage would cost jobs and that employers should be able to dodge it.
We’re going to get a lot more spin in coming weeks about her One Nation agenda. The truth is that she and her new Cabinet are just the same old Tories.
Blyth Valley MP