All In   |  April 08, 2013

Margaret Thatcher hated feminism and workers, says critics

Margaret Thatcher died Monday at 87 amid wildly different assessments of her legacy. MSNBC's Martin Bashir and former White House administrator Cass Sunstein join Chris Hayes to talk about the effect Thatcher had on liberalism and government today.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> former prime minister margaret thatcher died today at 87 and there is an understandable instinct to be charitable upon someone's death. the death of public figures is an incredibly important occasion to wrestle with their legacy and the wrong message can be destructive. it tends to establish what the consensus position is, what we've all collectively learned from the person's life. president obama 's statement read in part the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty. america has lost a true friend. as a grocer's daughter who rose to become print's first female prime minister she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered. yet a former adviser said thatcher said the feminists hate me and i don't blame them because i hate fem nichl. it is poison. out of deference to her legacy, we should pull no punches. here are some of the hallmarks as britain's prime minister. she opposed economic sanctions against south africa 's apartheid government. she referred to nelson mandela 's congress as a typical terrorist organization . when arrested for war crimes including the widespread capture, torture and murder of political dissidents she called for his release and he served house arrest in london. thatcher's victory ushered in lower inflation but sent inflation past 10%. she decided when she wrote off our manufacturing industry that she could live with two or three million unemployed. even as the economy improved, it came with an immediate and long-term costs. child poverty rose with nearly one-third of children living in poverty by the time she left office. her tax policy shifted the burden from the wealthy to those at the bottom, reaching its most audacious peak with a 1990 poll tax so severe on the poor to the benefit of the wealthy there were wight spread riots. -- widespread riots. recent documents show thatcher was scheming to privatize a national health system that has provided universal health care for brits regardless of means or class since the end of world war ii and may well be one of the great hall marks of western social democracy . in the face of popular opposition she retreated from plans to privatize the water industry and national health service . replaced college grants from the student loan program and revamped the social security system . she supported section 28 which said local authorities shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school the acceptability of homosexuality. that is talked in conjunction with president ronald reagan as the conservative fairy tale goes because they both came into office during periods of malaise caused by leftist overreach and eviscerated their left opposition and permanently altered the trajectory of politics in their countries. thatcher once said there is no such thing as society. there are individual men and women, there are families. no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. david hopper, general secretary of the durham miners association who were crushed by thatcher in a series of violent strikes said she destroyed our community, our villages and our people. she absolutely hated working people and i've got very bitter memories of what she did. we live now still today on the reagan -thatcher access, their legacies reaching forward through the years this their shared contempt, they be kwooeted massive inquality. if you comparin equality, england and the u.s. are at the top. this is the society that thatcher and reagan gave us. societies of shrinking middle classes and tremendously high levels of inequality. if you do not like that vision, you have little occasion to celebrate margaret thatcher today. joining me, cass sunstein and author of "simpler" and martin bashir . it's a great pleasure to have you both here. cass, i'll begin with you. i have now given a rip-roaring leftist attack on margaret thatcher . partly as a useful corrective to the quite understandable desire to speak graciously, and i obviously wish her family no ill and it's sad when people pass. is there anything salvageable for liberals, for people who ascribe to the left about the thatcher legacy or as i just intimated, it's all essentially our enemy?

>> well, one of the most serious environmental problems of the last 40 or 50 years, maybe more, is the destruction of the ozone layer . that was something where a lot of conservatives in the united states in the '80s were ridiculing, saying it wasn't a problem, the world shouldn't do anything about it. there were two big heroes of largely successful efforts to protect the ozone layer . one was margaret thatcher , who gave an extremely powerful speech testifying to the urgency of protecting against that environmental threat. another hero by the way was ronald reagan , not known as the environmental president, but who worked very closely with margaret thatcher to try to protect against that environmental risk.

>> the role of government, there's a story about how the role of government has been viewed in particularly the u.s. and england, but broadly in the western world about the thatcher- reagan era as this useful corrective to the overreach of labor or overreach of --

>> overend.

>> you lived through that.

>> i did, i did.

>> you did there. does that square with the reality?

>> no. i think that when margaret thatcher was elected prime minister in 1979 , there were a series of global forces that had produced an economic malaise . some of those were domestic and caused by british unions. and remember, this was a nation that had staggered out of empire and out of the second world war . these were major seismic changes to the culture of a nation. as a result of that, she ushered in things like privatization, denationalization of industries. but underneath it all was the elevation of selfishness which became the predominant political domestic dogma and the consequence was felt by very many people, like my own family, because i had a brother who had severe muscular dystrophy and we were reliant on certain support mechanisms from the government. but within three years of her election, many of those support stems began to be cutaway. and so that was just one personal anecdote, but that was the feeling across the country. and as her confidence grew, she took on the miners, then she took on the print unions, and she saw an improving economy after the first five years when things were difficult. that added wind to her sails so it didn't stop. it continued. and what we then had was her so-called big bang in 1986 when she totally deregulated the financial markets .

>> i want to hold your thought there because you have just come from four years of being one of the chief regulators in the obama white house and i want to talk about that regulatory legacy and also about what the fight over the size of government does and doesn't say, because i think if you scratch the thatcher legacy, you learn something very, very interesting about what the fights between the left and right both here and in britain are really about, right after about. -- after this. you