Margaret Thatcher

The Thatcher legacy
The past week in Britain has been a reminder of the bitterness of the politics of the 1980s as a vehement debate has broken out about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher since her death last week. For Conservatives, she remains a hero who rescued the British economy and helped to win the Cold War. But for the left, she was a villain who provoked social division and wrecked Britain’s relations with the European Union. Chris Giles, economics editor, and Philip Stephens, chief political commentator, join Gideon Rachman to attempt to arrive at a more nuanced verdict on the Iron Lady’s legacy — for Britain and the world.

♦ Kenya’s new leader Uhuru Kenyatta is proving deft at politics even with a charge for crimes against humanity hanging over his head.

♦ Jonathan Soble looks at the dilemma that Haruhiko Kuroda faces over the next two years – “How do you convince markets and consumers that you are serious about raising prices, without being so dogmatic that you risk the central bank’s credibility – and your job – if you fail?”

♦ Margaret Thatcher’s death has prompted a wave of nostalgia among US conservatives.

♦ Sarah Neville, the FT’s public policy editor, thinks welfare reforms in the UK are likely to test the resolve of the middle class. (You can find out more about the reforms in today’s additions to the FT Austerity Audit.)

♦ Nicolás Maduro summons the ghost of Hugo Chávez in the final days of his campaign, a move he is counting on to propel him to victory at Sunday’s presidential elections.

♦ Hugo Chávez may have made himself enormously popular by subsidising fuel, but his policy has damaged long-term prospects for Venezuela’s economy.

♦ Jon Lee Anderson recalls his earliest memories of living in Seoul when his father was working in the Korean demilitarised zone.

♦ Jack Goldstone at Foreign Policy thinks there “is a real risk that the Korean Peninsula will follow Syria’s descent into war”. (Although you might not have to worry. The military’s planned missile test has been “put on hold because of “problems with Windows 8”, according to the Borowitz Report.)  Read more

♦ “There is no such thing as good timing for a government when political scandal erupts,” says Hugh Carnegy, “but the tax fraud affair that has brought low François Hollande has hit the French president at a moment of severe economic difficulty.” Dominique Moïsi thinks Hollande must heed the lessons of Louis XVI: “in the wake of the Cahuzac scandal, France’s president looks ever more like a modern Louis XVI – the king guillotined by revolutionaries.”

♦ The FT looks at how Taiwan needs sweeping reform to preserve its status as one of Asia’s great successes.

♦ A recording of a private meeting between Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, and his campaign aides shows how they considered using Ashley Judd’s mental health and religion against her as political ammunition. Mother Jones, who published it, is also looking at the ethical questions it raises about McConnell’s staff.

♦ Sri Srinivasan, the Obama administration’s principal deputy solicitor general, is a candidate for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. According to Jeffrey Toobin, “if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he’ll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama’s term ends.”

Jon Lee Anderson at the New Yorker looks back at the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet. On the basis of that he argues that, “In a country where, for decades, history was buried, it is fitting for Chileans to dig up [Pablo] Neruda to find out the truth of what happened to him.” Comedian Russell Brand recalls a chance encounter with Margaret Thatcher and the less coincidental legacy she left: “She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.”

♦ The BBC has been looking at the changing state of modern journalism. Frank Rich, writing for New York magazine, thinks when it comes to journalism, “the last thing the news business needs is a case of nostalgia.”  Read more

Esther Bintliff

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

1) ECONOMICS The FT’s chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, evaluates the impact of Baroness Thatcher on Britain’s economic performance both during her time in power and afterwards.

“For the UK, the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s did mark the first sustained period since the 19th century when GDP per head rose more than in the other large European economies. Unfortunately, the post-crisis economic malaise, the high inequality, the persistent regional imbalances and the over-reliance on an unstable financial sector mar this success.”

2) SOCIETY Hugo Young was a political columnist for the Guardian from 1984 until 2003, and wrote a biography of Margaret Thatcher, One of Us. Two weeks before he died, in 2003, he wrote this piece about Thatcher and her legacy. The Guardian published it on Monday. Young praises Thatcher’s self-confidence, and how little she cared if people liked her – a quality he notes is markedly lacking in today’s politicians. But he worries about the change in British social attitudes that she fostered: Read more

Coming up We’re pulling together some of the best reads on the “Iron Lady”. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
Margaret Thatcher had an impact on the global scene that is still playing out today. The three most important aspects of her legacy were her impact on globalisation, on the EU and on the cold war. Of the three, only the debates surrounding the cold war are now safely consigned to the past.

 Read more

Esther Bintliff

Margaret Thatcher in June 2010 (AFP/Getty)

Baroness Thatcher in June 2010 (AFP/Getty)

Baroness Thatcher, the former UK prime minister, has died at age 87. Read more