An Historian

historical stuff by Gareth Millward


Looking Through Ian Gilmour’s Eyes


Trying to enhance individual freedom and responsibility by constricting government intervention is in itself wholly defensible. But the rigid application of dogma with scant regard to practicalities, or to clearly foreseeable consequences, resulted in precisely the opposite of what was intended: increased dependency on state welfare benefits. In accordance with their dogma, the anti-public-expenditure brigade regarded tax allowances as benign and public spending as malignant. The consequence of this convenient differentiation was that tax and benefit changes channelled a much greater share of resources to the rich at the expense of the poor and, in particular, the near-poor. Overall, the doctrine of targeting combined with tax cuts resulted in more money for those least in want while neglecting to safeguard, let alone improve, the circumstances of many of those most in need.

Ian Gilmour, Dancing With Dogma (London : Pocket Books, 1992)

Gilmour was a minister in Lady Thatcher’s first government, but was one of the “wets” who got sacked in 1981. He may be slightly salty about it.

This comes from a chapter I read the other day on “poverty” under Thatcher, and is certainly worth a read if you have a copy within easy access. It’s very interesting how the current rhetoric from the current liberal (neo and classical in coalition) government sounds familiar. Familiarly scary.

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