Independence from the state

From 1968:

To return to the personal theme, if we accept the need for increasing responsibility for self and family it means that we must stop approaching things in an atmosphere of restriction. There is nothing wrong in people wanting larger incomes. It would seem a worthy objective for men and women to wish to raise the standard of living for their families and to give them greater opportunities than they themselves had. I wish more people would do it. We should then have fewer saying ‘the state must do it.’ What is wrong is that people should want more without giving anything in return. The condition precedent to high wages and high salaries is hard work. This is a quite different and much more stimulating approach than one of keeping down incomes.

Doubtless there will be accusers that we are only interested in more money. This just is not so. Money is not an end in itself. It enables one to live the kind of life of one’s own choosing. Some will prefer to put a large amount to raising material standards, others will pursue music, the arts, the cultures, others will use their money to help those here and overseas about whose needs they feel strongly and do not let us underestimate the amount of hard earned cash that this nation gives voluntarily to worthy causes. The point is that even the Good Samaritan had to have the money to help, otherwise he too would have had to pass on the other side. In choice of way of life J. S. Mill’s views are as relevant as ever.

‘The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way so long as we do not deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it … Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.’

These policies have one further important implication. Together they succeed at the same time in giving people a measure of independence from the state—and who wants a people dependent on the state and turning to the state for their every need—also they succeed in drawing power away from governments and diffusing it more widely among people and non-governmented institutions.

— Margaret Thatcher, “What’s wrong with politics?”.

Who wants a people dependent on the state for their every need? New Labour.

It appears New Labour have supported people in their struggle for larger incomes only so that the state can have more extensive and intrusive programmes. They have not encouraged people to earn more so that they can personally give more; they have encouraged people to earn more and think only of themselves, carelessly transferring altruism to the state. And yet the left have the bare-faced audacity to hate a woman who believes we should be altruists and who remains generous about her opponents.

In 1968, Mrs Thatcher concluded:

A short time ago when speaking to a university audience and stressing the theme of second responsibility and independence a young undergraduate came to me and said ‘I had no idea there was such a clear alternative.’ He found the idea challenging and infinitely more effective than one in which everyone virtually expects their MP or the government to solve their problems. The Conservative creed has never offered a life of ease without effort. Democracy is not for such people. Self-government is for those men and women who have learned to govern themselves.

No great party can survive except on the basis of firm beliefs about what it wants to do. It is not enough to have reluctant support. We want people’s enthusiasm as well.

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