Mrs Thatcher's two governments have each managed one unequivocal triumph. Her first administration saw off General Galtieri and his miscalculated assault on the Falklands, while her second saw off Arthur Scargill and his equally miscalculated assault on the National Coal Board. The triumphs were, of course, triumphs only in terms of the Government's immediate aims - to throw out the occupying forces in the one case, and to avoid any concessions about the way the coal industry was to be restructured in the other. Moreover, the electorate was much more impressed by the Falklands campaign than by the coal strike: for all the talk of 'the enemy within', the citizenry distinguishes fairly accurately between Argentine soldiers and British mineworkers. Moreover, the electorate takes a much closer and more sustained interest in prices and employment than it does in foreign policy. We can all see that the economy grows no faster and that unemployment is as bad as it was before the NUM was reduced to impotence: but most of us hardly care that the expulsion of the Argentine forces from the Falklands leaves us with Fortress Albatross and unresolved diplomatic problems all over Latin America.
LRB 6 November 1986 | PDF Download