The ears of ‘Thatcherites’ across the country must be ringing after hearing of the recent actions taken by President Trump, that some might suggest having been taken from the Thatcherism handbook. Margaret Thatcher was a conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, and who led the free-market revolution that steered her country away from its socialist decline, and defended democratic principles alongside our beloved President Reagan.
Within the past two weeks, President Trump has executed both domestic and foreign policy that remind us of the glorious Thatcher era. Last week during President Trump’s visit to Europe he confronted NATO member leaders with a strong suggestion that they pay up to their fair share and contribute the minimum two percent of GDP to the NATO budget; which currently less than a handful, of the 28 members, do. Recent numbers show the United States paying upward of two-thirds of the entire budget.
Critics of the president have berated him for what they say was a breach of diplomacy, but it does evoke images of the 1980 European Economic Community (Now the European Union) meeting where then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a similar confrontation. Thatcher had just become prime minister at the time and held the main objective of standing up for Britain on the world stage, and so came the E.E.C. meeting. At this time the U.K., which had been a financially struggling member of the community, was forced to be one of the larger net contributors when other countries failed to pay up. A very displeased Thatcher set out to the meeting to get “my money back” as the United Kingdom was paying too much into a system and receiving not nearly as much back- tax dollars at waste. The prime minister was not leaving until a good deal was made.
While some of her foreign policy advisers suggested she remain quiet for the sake of community coherence, Mrs. Thatcher saw this as weak valuing more a better deal for Britain. At the end of the talks, she had secured a permanent rebate for the United Kingdom at roughly one billion pounds and an investigative review into future amounts paid. For Margaret, her forthright defense of her country placed it better off.
Now another staple of Thatcherism is her record of privatization; which defined her era. While in office, Mrs. Thatcher privatized over 50 state-owned industries including British Petroleum, British Aerospace, Cable and Wireless, Britoil, British Telecom, British Airways, British Gas, British Steel, British Shipbuilders, Water, Electricity etc.
Ms. Thatcher become synonymous with the word “privatized” saving an estimated 2 billion pounds to the British taxpayer and generating roughly 35 billion pounds in sales. (Ring a bell?) It was just yesterday where President Trump announced his plans to privatize the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Thus releasing another burden off the taxpayer and generating what some suggest a possible multi-billion-dollar deal, all at the same time carrying on the legacy of Thatcherism.
Many debate whether or not the conservative prime minister would have been a fan of Mr. Trump. However, Trump’s actions mirror Prime Minister Thatcher’s in more ways than one.