Thatcher on Socialism

A few weeks ago while on my mid-year break, I engaged in debate with a cousin on Socialism. And again this weekend, while with a group of lady friends, the topic came up again, although I can’t quite remember why.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the merits, virtues or otherwise of Socialism, but let it be known that I’m no great admirer of this economic system/ideology/philosophy. The reason I bring it up is because I’ve come across this quotation on several occasions, attributed to Margaret Thatcher, the late British Prime Minister, and wondered if she really did say that:

The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

This witty quote appears to be very apt when applied to the travesty that masquerades as the current government in South Africa, namely the ANC. The majority of these politicians in power, who are indistinguishable from common thugs, are on a mission to spend our taxes with outrageous extravagance on the most absurd of “needs,” not to mention siphoning off a significant amount into their own back pockets.

But all of this, I’ve written about before. Back to Thatcher…

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

Today I did a wee bit of research on the quote above, and discovered that it has been simplified somewhat, but it does encapsulate what she did actually say. Apparently while responding to questions in 1976 by Llew Gardner, a television journalist, about the Conservative Party’s plans to bring down the Labour Party who were the majority party at the time, Thatcher responded:

I would much prefer to bring them down as soon as possible. I think they’ve made the biggest financial mess that any government’s ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.

So there you have it, the short history of a misquote with a little venting of my own thrown in.