05/26/17

Thatcher 1979, May 2017?

Excellent analysis by Professor Michael Thrasher, Sky News Election Analyst, in a post, “Thatcher-style landslide ‘a big ask’ for Theresa May at General Election” (read here). The Thatcher-style landslide referenced was in 1979, and brought to power Margaret Thatcher for the first time and launched the Thatcher Revolution. Professor Thrasher also discusses how many seats in Parliament Theresa May will need to withstand the stiff headwinds ahead in Brexit negotiations. Regarding a Thatcher-style landslide, Professor Thrasher considers any approximation of it by Theresa May a British election for the history books.

Margaret Thatcher secured a 5.3% swing in 1979, but she was in opposition and Jim Callaghan’s government was spent. Achieving that feat whilst in government would secure Theresa May’s name in the record books.

05/18/17

Donald Trump & Andrew Jackson

Robert W. Merry has an excellent article today in The American Conservative, “Removing Trump Won’t Solve America’s Crisis: The elites are the problem.” In it, he describes a fascinating comparison between sanctuary cities today and the nullification crisis of the 1830s; in other words, a new nullification. I would add, in both instances the Democrat Party was involved, trying to nullify the Constitution and federal laws. It is an ironic twist that Democrats would resort to defending again the capacity of States and localities to violate federal authority, long ago abandoning States’ Rights as a political position. Merry also says the current political turmoil in America is second only to the Civil War in terms of upheaval. Regarding the nullification issue, Merry writes:

Meanwhile, we have “sanctuary cities” throughout Blue State America that are refusing to cooperate with federal officials seeking to enforce the immigration laws—the closest we have come as a nation to “nullification” since the actual nullification crisis of the 1830s, when South Carolina declared its right to ignore federal legislation it didn’t like. (Andrew Jackson scotched the movement by threatening to hang from the nearest tree anyone involved in violence stemming from the crisis.)

In another interesting twist, President Trump’s favorite predecessor is Andrew Jackson, another President not known for pleasantries when confronting his political opponents (My only two regrets in life are that I did not hang Calhoun and shoot Clay.) And like Jackson, he has to confront new nullification adherents.

(Source: USA Today)

 

05/12/17

Should President Trump Listen to Oscar Wilde?

Oscar Wilde wrote in The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891): “In America the President reigns for four years, and journalism governs for ever and ever.”

Even the most presidential of President Trump’s tweets from the sanctity of the Oval Office may not overcome the myriad forms of communications today that parade around as journalism.

 

05/11/17

Members of the House of Representatives and War of 1812

The House of Representatives’ website reports, “According to the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, nearly 300 House Members served in the War of 1812.” In the 13th Congress (1813–1815), there were 182 Representatives and 4 Delegates, so some third of Members enlisting to fight were former Members of Congress. A tremendous measure of American patriotism.

A view of the U.S. Capitol after British forces set fire to it on 24 August 1814

05/10/17

British Lessons of the 1970s

I enjoyed reading this (humorous) reference to Britain in the 1970s entitled, “Plan to cap energy prices smacks of 1970s madness” by Iain Martin in the Times today — and how Margaret Thatcher reversed the economic policies that led to Britain being labelled the “sick man of Europe.” I will ignore the larger discussion of whether the current Conservative government is ignoring the “lessons of the 1970s” to court Labour voters. I do believe, however, that any attempt by British governments to intercede in markets to stabilise prices should be subjected to a “lessons of the 1970s” test. It is also worth remembering how politicians can make themselves an object of humour when their actions to manipulate markets are reported by the media — another history lesson from the 1970s.

Some time in the late 1970s, the press spokesman to the then minister of consumer protection, Roy Hattersley, made a series of phone calls to members of the press. One of those on the receiving end recalls to this day the excitement. I have good news for your readers, he was told: Roy has managed to hold down the prices of shirts and underwear.

This was Britain before the dawn of Margaret Thatcher, when governments attempted to run a protectionist policy controlling prices and incomes, and ministers sat in judgment on the minutiae. A daft economic experiment distorted incentives and gummed up the workings of the UK economy to a calamitous extent….

Difficult and painful work was undertaken in the 1980s to wean the British off the notion that the government should control the economy.

05/8/17

The Special Relationship through constitutional and legal history

Sir Robert Worcester delivered an address to the 28th International Churchill Conference in London in October 2011. Sir Robert is Anglo-American (originally a Kansas City native), and founder of MORI polling in the U.K. You can read a copy of his address here. One quote from his address demonstrates the long constitutional and legal history — the rule of law — which defines the Special Relationship between the United States and Britain. For me, one way of viewing the Special Relationship is that American history did not begin, or a period of British colonial history end, in 1776. Sir Robert mentions some very interesting historical references, which demonstrate the long constitutional and legal history America and Britain share:

Constitutional and Legal: The Rule of Law, the cusp between retributive justice and codified justice, was first expressed in England during the rule of King Æthelbert of Kent, c . 604, recorded in the Textus Roffensus; in the Coronation Oath of Henry I in 1100; and in Magna Carta of 1215, wherein the Rule of Law and Human Rights, if not universal, became, in 1297, the law of the land.

05/4/17

What Margaret Thatcher said about May 4th

As we remember, and celebrate, today the 38th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it is worth quoting from one of her 1979 campaign speeches delivered on April 16th 1979 to a Conservative Party Rally in Cardiff, Wales.  She said at the City Hall, the reversal of socialism in Britain would begin on May 4th. A campaign promise, which was prophetic: a rare occurrence among many politicians. But few politicians act or sound like the Iron Lady:

Change is coming. The slither and slide to the socialist state is going to be stopped in this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, stopped, halted and turned back [applause]. It can be done, it will be done, and we intend to make a start on the 4th May.

Margaret Thatcher campaigning in 1979

 

05/3/17

Ronald Reagan Defines the Special Relationship

Ronald Reagan wrote to Margaret Thatcher on 2 February 1981 in regards the Prime Minister’s speech at the Pilgrims’ Dinner held at the Savoy Hotel in London on 29 January 1981.

“You are indeed right that we share a very special concern for democracy and for liberty. That is the essence of the special relationship between our two countries ….”

This is still one of the best, and shortest, definitions you will encounter of the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom.

05/2/17

What Ronald Reagan Understood

At the Heritage Foundation today, Lee Edwards spoke to Craig Shirley about his latest book on Ronald Reagan (Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980). One description Shirley had of Reagan was that he was a successful politician who mixed populism, American conservatism, and libertarianism.

This description is key because voters will reject policies and politicians that get the mixture wrong. Patriotism, tolerance, and limited government are what binds Americans. If these are lacking, populism can become intolerant, American conservatism too radical, and libertarianism too chaotic for average Americans. At the same time, ignoring the patriotism or social conservatism of a majority of Americans also leads to a revolt at the polls.

Reagan got the mixture right, elected twice with huge majorities, and the world is a better place for it. It is also incumbent on Donald Trump to get the mixture right for the sake of his Presidency, and the future of the country.