Was it fair for this blog to compare Caroline Flint’s comments yesterday with the Tories (eg Tebbit) of the 1980s? Not necessarily.
I’ve gone back to Margaret Thatcher’s famous "no such thing as society" (20 years ago now) and there are clear parallels with Flint’s nowt for owt speech to the Fabian Society on Tuesday.
This is what Thatcher told Women’s Own in October 1987.
- I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, 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 to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation
Perhaps Baroness Thatcher’s views are due for a degree of revisionism. One Labour backbencher told me the other day that the former Tory leader’s greatest regret was that she had expected the entrepreneurs of the 1980s – who had benefited from her policies – to give back more to charity/society. The Iron Lady told him, apparently, that she was surprised that the newly-created rich had not been more philanthropic; as was the case in the US.