Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Voice From The Past

The back to the 1970's post on Monday, "Memories Are Made Of This" told of the troubled times in that period arising from upheavals in local government and central government problems.  Then on Tuesday in The Telegraph there was the obituary of a key player in that period.

Sir Jasper Hollom was the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England then.  This was a time when the BoE Quarterly Bulletin was part of my evening relaxed reading telling me stories of strange lives in faraway place of which we knew or understood little.

This was because not much of it was talked about publicly in order to avoid frightening people and causing them to doubt the infinite wisdom of their masters in Whitehall.  Having met some of these their lack of insight into basic statistics never mind monetary economics never failed to astonish.

Which is why the BoE kept its cards close to its chest and ensured there were only a few trusted people in whom it could confide what was really happening and why. Sir Jasper and his colleagues had to be left with it because they were the only kids on the block who knew how to play the game.

But having saved the UK from self inflicted mutual destruction he retired in 1980, although playing a major role for a little time after.  This period was important to the formative thinking of Mrs. Thatcher as to how to deal with The City.  This was conditioned by husband's role as a major figure in the oil industry.  The two did not fit together.

Again, I point out that Mrs. Thatcher was not just a shop keeper's daughter with pretensions to lower middle class status the reality of her family was in the shoe trade as workers and shoemakers.  So when she achieved the status of Token Woman in the Conservative government she was known variously as "That woman over the river" to the more accepting of her colleagues and "That bxxxxy woman" by both Heath and his cronies and the aristo's who had to deal with her.

Her being voted Leader when Heath left because the men could not organise themselves and too many of them had been too involved one way or another in the financial disasters at the time was thought to be a stop gap, but she had other ideas.

It is possible that in the early part of her time as Prime Minister she was inclined to listen to men like Hollom and take notice, but as time wore on she came under the influence of too many of her husband's friends and their City associates in Parliament and the media.

But when she did become PM in 1979 the changes under way in the British economy and the restructuring entailed was well advanced almost wherever you look.  What was not seen was all the chances and opportunities we had missed in new and growing fields of activity in the years before.

While the Tory media message was progress, in effect she was managing a difficult retreat across most fronts in the economy that somehow had to be covered and patched up.  The trouble was that many of the power bases were of the declining past.

Now in 2014 going on into 2015 there are still people prattling on about Mrs. Thatcher who left office a generation ago in a very different world.  It is rather like blaming Herbert Hoover for the USA's disasters in Vietnam or Clement Attlee's 1950's defeat on Ramsay Macdonald.

The obituary of Sir Jasper Hollom is a welcome reminder of what was going on of which little was known then and less now.

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