Internationally, [Margaret Thatcher’s] kindred spirit with Ronald Reagan and what became known as the New Enlightenment, gave the impression of value-driven policies, in tune with the modern era. However, look more closely for the truth. After all, Thatcher voted against Britain withdrawing from Europe, signed the Single European Act in 1986 and, despite her undoubted commitment to democracy, was prepared to aid and abet General Augusto Pinochet in Chile – not only in the aftermath of the overthrow of a democratically elected president, but also in the suppression of opposition in that country. We might also remember that under her leadership Britain, to its dying shame, continued to back the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Undoubtedly helped enormously by the decision of President Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina to invade the Falkland Islands, the bellicose and, in the end, inept leadership of Arthur Scargill of the miners, and a divided opposition, Thatcher was able to present herself to the world as an undisputed ideologue, transforming Britain’s economic and social policy. However, this hid the fact that North Sea oil was squandered on a far too rapid restructuring of the economy. This led to three and a half million people unemployed, incapacity benefit used as a tool to dampen revolt and the near collapse of key manufacturing parts of the British economy, including in my home city of Sheffield, as well as the demise of the mining industry.