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August 17, 2011


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If you want to be partisan about it, you could equally claim it's Thatcher who started and Tony just carried the torch.

"There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then to look after our neighbour." (M. Thatcher, Woman’s Own, October 31, 1987)

James Hamilton

Actually, that line runs "It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour"

Given that this Woman's Own interview from 1987 is source for probably the most taken-out-of-context quotation in recent British political history, it's surely worth getting it right if possible. She goes on to say

"There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."

Larger extract here: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689

It's a political interview, and so there'll be plenty to disagree with in it, but I don't find in it what many think is there to disagree with.


"bemoan...state of the poor or the state of the rich". Do you think it's partly because of what seems to motivate a lot of people's politics? It seems to me that - depressingly- if you talk to a certain percentage of people who claim to have a political philosophy, they don't. They just hate/dislike a section of society, and then feel that section is getting too much money (from somewhere).
So for some tories, it's the poor getting too much from the state. for some labourites, it's the rich getting too much money from anywhere.


Sorry for the inaccuracy, I copied the quote off another webpage and didn't check the primary source. Also, I prefaced it with "If you want to be partisan about it". In my experience, when you're being partisan clipping quotes is a major part of the game. :)

Personally I don't have an issue with Thatcher. I think the direction she aimed for was right. Better long term growth in Britain requires greater social mobility which in turn requires a more self-interested population. However, the down side of more self-interested population is going to be less social stability. Saying that, I do think it's the right long term change for Britain and as I understand it, Thatcher started it going.

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