Why Margaret Thatcher is to Blame For Our Current Banking Problems
I remember when I was growing up in the 80s it seemed that the Tories would blame absolutely everything on James Callaghan’s Labour Government and the Winter of Discontent. Nowadays the tables have turned and it is now fashionable to blame the woes of the world on Maggie Thatcher. Being a left wing sympathiser I tend to take the latter view.
One scenario where the Maggie-phobes may have a point is in the reviews of the current credit crisis. For a second, let’s ignore the Right to Buy policy (which I could slur all day) and the impact of the USA on all this, and go back to a gentler banking age. In fact, let’s go back to 1984, when my parent’s first set foot on the housing ladder. At that time they bought a flat for £14,000 and put down a 10% place. My father would’ve been earning about £10,000 per year as a Coal Miner at the time so saving £1400 would have been comparatively simple compared to the £26,000 that the great and the good say you need today. In those days it was necessary to not only put down a place but also have a savings account with the Building Society making the loan. In my parent’s case it was the Alloa branch of the Yorkshire Building Society. The scenario described had worked very well for decades but it all came to a stop in the late 80s when Maggie Thatcher clouded the dividing lines between edges and building societies. Since then, Woolwich have been bought out by Barclays, Halifax and Birmingham Midshires were engulfed by the Bank of Scotland (which has since been eaten up by LTSB), Cheltenham and Gloucester were taken ove by Lloyds, and finally, both Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley have been nationalised.
This “shake-out” has meant that the values of these organisations have been cast aside as the office tower blocks have became higher and higher and further away from their grass roots.
The UK public liked the simple concept of Building Societies but it seems that Maggie herself might outlast the few remaining on our High Streets.