Having spent last year studying in Britain at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, I feel I have to respond to Roger Scruton’s column (“Her Virtue Was Thatcher’s Downfall,” Column Right, Commentary, Nov. 25).
I will offer a few reflections of my time spent in Thatcher’s Britain. The London of 1990, after 10 years of Thatcherism, was a much different place than the London I remembered in 1980. Last year in London for the first time I encountered large numbers of homeless people shuffling through the streets. Many were poor Northern England lads who came south in search of work. Indeed, in Fife, the county in Scotland where St. Andrews is located, the unemployment rate was 17%.
The morning after Thanksgiving last year was cold, cold enough to freeze the Serpentine (a pond in Hyde Park), yet I saw about 60 people in cardboard boxes sleeping in the underpass on the way to the park.
I was also in London in the spring when the riots took place. The devastation that occurred was enormous, but interestingly the great majority of it was directed at objects of wealth--posh cars and stores. The riots were in protest to Thatcher’s incredibly regressive (even by our standard) poll tax, in which the Queen of England, Britain’s richest person, pays the same rate as a poor mother of three children. Thatcher’s policy’s had indeed created a new prosperity and a new elite--but at what price?
I believe that most of Britain will rightfully rejoice in Thatcher’s exit. Scruton’s real gripe seems to be with democracy itself where “inferior people have power.” His kind should be watched with suspicion in Britain and America.