Friday, 10 May 2013

Thatcher, Thatcher, truth snatcher

I tried to send the letter below to the  left wing  fortnightly, Tribune. Unfortunately, for a publication that purports to provide information and comment amongst left-leaning readers, it has neither a working phone nor a working e-mail system, nor has had for weeks. Revolution postponed....... due to technical difficulties!

So I am posting the letter on my blog instead.

To The Editor, Tribune:

Your extensive coverage of the damage caused by Mrs Thatcher overlooked two scandalously salient acts of political recklessness she perpetrated.(April 19- May 2)

Mrs Thatcher used the nuclear industry to undermine the miners in the dispute in the early 1980s. She planned it  over four years earlier, something we  know from the minutes of the Cabinet ministerial Committee on Economic Strategy (E(79) held on 23 October 1979, barely a few months into Mrs Thatcher’s first term in power, initially leaked, and now  posted on the Thatcher Foundation web site.

They  record: “… a nuclear [energy]  programme would have the advantage of removing a substantial portion of electricity production from the dangers of disruption by industrial action by coal miners or transport workers.” (

The nuclear industry trades unions were complicit in Thatcher’s attack on the mineworkers, by running the Magnox reactors to their rattling  limits, and exacerbated a radioactive waste management  problem by creating wastes for which no proper storage had been prepared. The payback for today’s taxpayers is a bill of £70 billion - and rising -  for the  clean-up, a substantial proportion of which was due to Thatcher's action in 1984.

In Thatcher’s own memoirs, The Downing Street Years , a 915-page volume covering her time as prime minister, Thatcher does not even once mention her government’s sales of arms and military equipment to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

As the 1992-93 Scott Inquiry into arms-to-Iraq uncovered, until the time Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Baghdad had been a profitable recipient of U.K. arms for over a decade.

From 1980 to 1990 under Thatcher’s Cabinet, the United Kingdom provided £3.5 billion in trade credits to Iraq. This support continued on either side of Saddam’s ordering the poison gassing of Iranian conscript troops in 1983-84, and of his own people in Halabja, Kurdistan, in 1988, killing 5,000 innocent civilians.

Trade export credits to Iraq rose from £175 million in 1987 (before Halabja) to £340 million after Halabja, according to a press release from the then Department for Trade and Industry. Five months after the Halabja massacre, Thatcher’s foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey (now Lord) Howe, noted in a report to Thatcher that with the August 1988 Iran-Iraq peace deal agreed, “opportunities for sales of defence equipment to Iran and Iraq will be considerable.”

In the months running up to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and with his record of poison gas use publicly known, Thatcher’s government sold Iraq three tons of sodium cyanide and sodium sulphide (used as nerve-gas antidotes), dual-use civilian-military equipment including Matrix Churchill.

I was seriously  shocked to read - in Tribune of all magazines -  a special pleading by Hugh Scallion, general secretary  of the shipbuilding and engineering  unions,  that £100 billion of taxpayers’ money be devoted to replacing the Trident  nuclear WMD system – when there are  huge social priorities for public investment, and Trident undermines not  enhances our  national security, as well as being illegal.

They would join the nuclear industry  unions in ignominy in their backing of Thatcher if they succeed in  getting Trident investment ahead of schools, hospitals, housing, skills training and environmental  improvement.

Thatcher also replaced Polaris with Trident in 1980. 


Dr David Lowry

[former director of the European Proliferation Information Centre (EPIC), London]

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