Viewpoint: Thatcher’s Legacy on Merseyside


Dr Diane Frost is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool’s School of Law and Social Justice

“Margaret Thatcher’s funeral this week will not be the end of her enduring legacy.

“Already in the short time since her death an increasing number of canonised accounts from an array of supporters hail her achievements – from the ‘taming of the unions’ to the freeing of the market from stifling regulation and state control.

Opportunity to celebrate

“Others will see her forthcoming funeral as an opportunity to celebrate as they reflect on the social fallout in northern cities like Liverpool. The breaking of the unions for example, built by workers, forged to protect their conditions and rights went hand in hand with the decimation of Britain’s industrial base, including Liverpool’s.

“Public sector cuts combined with mass job losses saw Liverpool being branded as the ‘Bermuda Triangle of British Capitalism’ as thousands were laid off  following the collapse of local industries like Meccano, Taverner-Rutledge and  Tate and Lyle to name but a few.

”The regeneration and reinvention of Liverpool in more recent years had little to do with a Thatcher legacy, many would argue”

“Such policies were divisive as both workers and the electorate responded through industrial action and made their allegiances clear in forthcoming national and local elections. The regeneration and reinvention of Liverpool in more recent years had little to do with a Thatcher legacy, many would argue.

“Indeed, government papers at the time and recently released showed there was support for the ‘managed decline’ of Liverpool.

“Today, Liverpool has now thrown off its negative image that was partly constructed through its resistance to the 1980s Conservative government, symbolized by the industrial unrest, the left Labour council and later seen at its worse in 1998 in the denigration of the now vindicated victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Re-run of public sector cuts

“As the funeral approaches and ordinary Liverpudlians go about their daily lives, a re-run of public sector cuts, increasing levels of inequality and hardship, and the greater marketisation of Britain’s welfare state continues.

“It is this that many in Liverpool will feel despondent about as they will not only remember but will continue to experience the enduring and continuing legacy of the Thatcher era today.”

Dr Diane Frost is co-author (with Peter North) of Militant Liverpool: A City on the Edge (April 2013) published by Liverpool University Press and co-editor (with Richard Phillips) of Liverpool ’81: remembering the riots (2011) published by Liverpool University Press.


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