July 23, 2012

PRESCIENCE CAN NEVER BE FORGIVEN, IT SHOWS UP YOUR PEERS:

How Thatcher Came to Be Euroskeptic : The Iron Lady was lukewarm on the EU before she was against it. (Charles C. W. Cooke, 7/22/12, National Review)

In her opposition to the European single currency and the ERM, history has confirmed a remarkable prescience. Mrs. Thatcher correctly predicted that a single currency could not simultaneously accommodate the likes of Germany and Greece -- countries she specifically named -- and that attempting to reconcile the two would lead to disaster for smaller nations: It will "devastate their inefficient economies," she warned a tentatively pro-euro chancellor, John Major, in 1990. Her staunch opposition within a divided party and her peremptory rejection of the views of those who disagreed with her cost her dearly politically, contributing to her downfall in 1990.

Her unilateral opposition to British involvement with the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, too, helped to end her premiership. But on this question, as on so many others, history has been kinder to her than her party was. In 1992, as she was gearing up to give a speech to the Economic Club of New York that recommended Britain leave the ERM, the ERM collapsed and Britain withdrew. This rendered her remarks a victorious post-mortem. By chance, former chancellor Nigel Lawson's memoirs were released at around the same time and were being serialized in the Times. The memoirs contained a passage explaining how Mrs. Thatcher's opposition to the ERM had contributed to her downfall. At the time of her dramatic ouster in 1990, the conventional wisdom had been that her "obstinacy" and unwillingness to accommodate the views of her colleagues on matters European had done her in. Now her "poor judgment" looks like great wisdom.

Posted by at July 23, 2012 5:37 AM
  

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