Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister Indomitable

By Juliet S. Thompson; Wayne C. Thompson | Go to book overview

12
Britain's Economic Problems:
Roots and Solutions
Speeches Delivered in the United States,
September 15-16, 1975

Let the Children Grow Tall1.

Vermont Royster wrote that: " Britain today offers a textbook ease on how to ruin a country." I do take some consolation that there is only one vowel sound difference between "ruin" and "run" a country. That small vowel sound is "I." However, the rather morbid and fatalistic tone of much of what is written about Britain by commentators on both sides of the Atlantic is misplaced.

I think most outside observers have not noticed that amidst our well- published difficulties a new debate is beginning--or perhaps I should say an old debate is being renewed--about the proper role of government, the welfare state and the attitudes on which it rests. May I stress that the attitudes are extremely important. Of course, many of the issues at stake have been debated on countless occasions in the last century or two, and some are as old as philosophy itself. But, the welfare state in Britain is now at least thirty years old. So after a long period in which it was unquestionably accepted by the whole society, we can now do more than discuss its strengths and weaknesses in the hackneyed, abstract language of moral and political principles. We can depart from theory and actually look at the

____________________
1.
This was the title of a speech, a lengthy extract of which follows, delivered to the Institute for Economic Studies, New York, September 15, 1975.

-183-

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