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[personal profile] peterbirks
It isn't looking to be a good year for ex-prime ministers. Considering the fact that Tony had ruled the roost for nearly eight years, the survival on January 1 of Callaghan, Heath, Thatcher, and Major was a major blow to annuity providers. But by the end of the year there are likely to be but two ex-prime ministers alive, and Margaret is looking dodgier on her pins every day.

Heath will probably go down as the man whose commitment to Europe got us in in the first place, although of more interest to macro-economists would be his "drive for growth" from 1970 to 1973. The great "what if" here is, would it have worked had the oil crisis not blown it off the rails? The probable answer is, no, if only because Tony Barber, nominally Heath's Chancellor, but probably little more than a gopher, was renowned for his hopelessness at economics.

And now it looks like we will be getting "Thatcher Lite" in Germany before the end of the year. Angela Merkl, definitely a better choice than the quixotically selected Edmund Stoiber for the last CDU/CSU vs SPD battle, seems to be putting forward reform proposals that could have been stolen from the Thatcher 1979 manifesto (with the exception of the real vote winner -- sell the council houses off at a knock down price). The funny thing about many Germans is that they spend most of their time reflecting on how miserable they are, and yet as a nation they have roads that work, public transport that works, and the most amazing amount of free time -- well, those employed in the state sector or within the financial sector do. Now they want to get rid of that and become more like us and the Americans, with no free time, no job security and a public transport infrastructure creaking at the knees.

Sometimes it seems an odd world.
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