‘Mrs Thatcher’s Favourite Economist’ Short Version

This is the short version of ‘Mrs Thatcher’s Favourite Economist’…a mere 3 pages instead of 12….having said that the programme was so packed full of things you could object to it had to be done.  However many may not want to read that much…..

Stephanie Flanders looks at the economic theories of three economists in the ‘Masters Of Money’.

Keynes, Hayek and Marx.

Why those three?

If she reduces the selection to them only one is left in her opinion who is ‘respectable’…conveniently the one her ex-boyfriends, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, look to for inspiration…..Keynes.

Hayek is presented in a negative light, an oddball extremist that only fellow oddball extremists would follow….Flanders tells us he was a favourite of Mrs Thatcher and therefore Flanders is saying Thatcher and her policies must be oddball and extreme.

Marx of course, no one can take seriously in the economic sense…..he is  used as an ideological inspiration for revolution and so produces wars, terror and tyranny if not economic prudence…and so is influential in that sense.

So that of course leaves Keynes, who is the harbinger of the bright and sunny uplands, of a prosperous future that means we can borrow what we like today because tomorrow we’re all going to be millionaires, you’ve got to speculate to accumulate, kushty.

Her programme on Keynes was upbeat and enthusiastic about him and his theory.

However she missed off that Roosevelt’s New Deal ruined the US economy in 1938 and she claimed Hoover was a ‘tax and cut’ man when he clearly wasn’t.

Flanders claimed Roosevelt built the Hoover Dam….clue is in the name!, and claimed it as a victory for Keynesianism (though no one listened to Keynes then)…‘A celebrated example of how to boost an economy…no more iconic example than the Hoover Dam.’ ….no figures to prove that….so nothing to do with Keynes or Roosevelt…good skills!

She claims the command economy of the war shows us how such planning, government control and massive investment can produce growth.

The war was a finite event the spending on which ended as soon as the war ended…unlike welfare or the NHS or policing etc. She never told us how the US paid off its massive war costs. High taxes might have something to do with it.


So Keynes is the chosen One…..however one ‘giant’ at least is missing from her modern pantheon of economic Masters….Milton Friedman.

“Mrs Thatcher’s favourite economist”

If as some suggest of Mrs Thatcher that …‘No one can seriously dispute that she mattered – more so than any other twentieth-century politician with the exception of Winston Churchill and , perhaps, Lloyd George.’ then surely her ‘favourite economist’ must merit a mention, a whole programme to himself?

Lady Thatcher said: “Milton Friedman revived the economics of liberty when it had been all but forgotten. He was an intellectual freedom fighter. Never was there a less dismal practitioner of a dismal science.”

Over half a century, Mr Friedman, established himself as arguably the most influential economic thinker of his time. Over that post-war period, “Friedmanism supplanted Keynesianism as the dominant economic philosophy of the industrial world.”

“It’s hard to think of anyone who’s had more of a direct influence on social and economic policy in this generation,” Professor Allan H Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon University.”


And look….

Milton Friedman, is now a hero of the Chinese Republic, not Marx, not Keynes:

‘On reaching retirement age in 1976, he joined Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and from there he continued to campaign for economic freedoms worldwide. This mission took him to China months before the Tiananmen Square massacres. As one observer recalled, the young Chinese “followed Milton around like he was a god”.’


and not only Friedman…..

Thatcher is now a hero in China…….

‘The former British Prime Minister is now being held up as an inspiration for future leaders of the People’s Republic of China…Professor Li Min, a lecturer at the institution, said when it came to crisis management Britain’s former prime minister was a model of behaviour.’




So Friedman totally eclipsed Hayek and has sidelined Keynes for decades…..and yet he is almost totally ignored by Flanders.

You can only conclude that is a political decision by Flanders…..Friedman was Thatcher’s favourite and the man who influenced her policies most….the policies that eventually brought stability and prosperity to Britain.

If Friedman is the ‘good’ economist embracing both the free market and some government ‘investment’ when necessary then Thatcher and her policies must have been ‘good’.

Not something perhaps Labour would like to hear the BBC endorsing? And so it doesn’t.


A continuous thread throughout the programme is that free markets and austerity bring Fascists in jackboots onto the streets….look at history again and it is Keynesian type economic stimulation which brought Hitler to power as the US ‘stimulated’ its economy and caused the Great Depression (Ben Bernanke…‘We did it!’)…..and now who is on the streets? The left wing agitators, the unions, the students……it’s not Hitler’s Stormtroopers, it’s Marxist revolutionaries.

And finally something odd:

As Flanders went on, apart from the expected upbeat cheerleading of a Keynesian approach to running the economy, I noticed something…I know that the Party conference season is upon us but as she talked I realised I’d heard or read much of the same lines she spouted as coming from Ed Miliband….is she just doing the warm up act for him?

She told us that Keynes saved capitalism from the capitalists, what is Miliband’s latest line? ‘I’m going to save Capitalism from itself’.

Another phrase that kept popping up…‘we’re all in this together’…..a Tory phrase that Miliband has tried to co-opt as his own recently…and now repeatedly echoed by Flanders.

Or Miliband’s ‘We want a market economy not a market society’…….Flanders told us a Keynesian policy was to suggest ‘If we can tame capitalism we can shape our destiny.’…also an echo of Miliband’s ‘predators and producers’ sound bite?

And of course Keynes is just Plan B with a moustache.



So to sum Flanders up….Keynes theory of spending massively to promote growth is good.

Austerity and Hayek can only bring fascism and war to our streets.


And Milton Friedman was….. who?

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21 Responses to ‘Mrs Thatcher’s Favourite Economist’ Short Version

  1. john in cheshire says:

    I thought Alan Walters was Margaret’s favoured economist. I’m not sure what school he followed but he certainly helped Margaret to restore credibility and prosperity to our nation during her terms in office. And that’s more than can be said for any, any, any of the socialists who have been forced upon us during the past 60 or so years. Some of us remember the 1970s and it’s to the utter disgrace of the sodding bbc that they never once reflect upon what a complete and utter mess the socialists (backed by the soviet union and its fifth column in our country) produced. I actually remember the strikes, the foul language, the threats and intimidation, the filth and the utter callousness of those who were supposedly paid by the rest of us to provide public services. I absolutely hate socialism and socialists and wouldn’t shed one tear to learn that some form of infection had eradicated them from this earth.


    • Span Ows says:

      Well said John. You are right about the 70s, many today simply don’t know: others are quickly forgetting; you fail to mention the oft forgot but true actual soviet connections with several unions and Labour people, these are traitors…had they been Nazis they would have been hunted down and pilloried/executed.


      • Dysgwr_Cymraeg says:

        King amongst the trots was one A Scargill, and then he met his nemesis:
        Maggie Thatcher!
        Game over.


  2. hippiepooter says:

    I remember at the time the BBC obsessing with Mrs Thatcher’s adherence to Milton Friedman’s advice.

    It turned out to be a great success, so of course now it is airbrushed out of history.

    How is IDS’ complaint going against Stephanie Flander’s for bias?


  3. MartinW says:

    Alan, I’m grateful for your work in producing those 12 pages of interesting and informative reading. The Thatcher years were intermittently turbulent, and not every policy decision was correct (notoriously on Europe thanks to the baleful influence of Howe, Heseltine, Hurd and Clarke). However, the economic policies were right, and Hayek were both key. Alan Walters was certainly very influential, and for me, one of the delightful things about him was that he got up the nose of Geoffrey Howe in a big way!


  4. Alexander Galt says:

    Stephanie has form.

    Here’s another look at the child of privilege who has no idea where the money comes in “Almost Perfect”at:



    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Thanks, I enjoyed that. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Except there’s one flaw in Moloney’s thinking:

      If somebody of Stephanie’s background and education can’t see how…

      Substitute “credentials” for “education”, and things become more clear. “Two Eds” has loads of credentials, but there’s precious little evidence that she’s actually learned anything outside of the information she’s amassed to earn them.


  5. Umbongo says:

    The BBC’s obit of Friedman admits that Friedman was a “giant in the world of economics”. It also reminds us that the Friedman presented a TV series on the BBC in 1980.
    However, this being the BBC, the obit gives him a quite unjustified posthumous kicking by stating that “a series of economic crises in the region [South America] in the 1990s led to an attack on the approach of the “Chicago School”, especially towards privatisation”. Thus the BBC smears Friedman for somehow being responsible for the overthrow of Allende and the atrocities committed under Pinochet because the so-called “Chicago Boys” adopted Friedmanite policies to restore (successfully and thus unforgiveably for the left) the economy of Chile ruined by Allende and his Cuban friends. The other “economic crises” were mostly connected with the lunacies of military figures (and others) for which South America is deservedly notorious.


    • Alexander Galt says:

      That Friedman series was called “Free to Choose”.


    • Wild says:

      In 1977 the BBC commissioned a series about the history of economics written and presented (yes you guessed it) a socialist – his name was John Galbraith.

      In 1985 the BBC commissioned a series about the history of economics written and presented (yes you guessed it) by a socialist – his name was John Eatwell. He went onto to advise the Labour Party.

      In 2001 the BBC commissioned a series about the history of economics written and presented by Peter Jay.

      Jay has impeccable Labour Party credentials. Both his parents were Labour Party politicians, and he married the daughter of a Labour Prime Minister, to whom he was an economic adviser and speech writer.

      Stephenie Flanders is just the latest Labour Party supporter to be commissioned by the BBC to write and present a series about the history of economics.

      Does this tell us something about the BBC? Maybe the Labour Party supporting (Conservative Party hating) defenders of the BBC on here could tell us.


      • lojolondon says:

        Thanks for doing the research – I have taken the liberty of copying your hard work and including it in a letter of complaint to the BBC – the Bastards!!


      • David Preiser (USA) says:

        Good finds. Add to your list the economics editor for Newsnight.


  6. +james says:

    Did the BBC mention that Mr Keynes borrowed Heir Hitler’s ideas on economics and Eugenics? Mr Keynes being the director of the British Eugenics Society from 1937-44, Which he stated that Eugenics was “the most important, significant and, I would add, genuine branch of sociology which exists.”


    • John Brown says:

      There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea of Eugenics – to encourage those with ‘good characteristsics’ to breed and to discourage those with poor characteristics e.g. haemophilia etc to refrain from passing those characteristics on.
      In the past those with poor phenotypic characteristics would not ‘fit’ into the environment (society) and thus not reproduce. Now our society looks after them and actively encourages them to do so.


  7. Umbongo says:

    Apparently Keynes shared a bed with a (male) German economist which, apparently, influenced his attitude to the post WW1 peace settlement. Analogously, since Flanders was personally close to – perhaps shared a bed with (I don’t know) – Ed Miliband (and Ed Balls) we shouldn’t be too surprised that Steph’s economics are . . er . . friendly to Ed’s politics.


  8. rob says:

    “She claims the command economy of the war shows us how such planning, government control and massive investment can produce growth.”

    I seem to remember that the war debt that Britain owed to the USA was eventually paid off in the 1990s and that loan was at an extremely beneficial (to Britain) interest rate. Anyway, I’m not sure that building ships which are then sunk by Germans really constitutes growth (has she never heard of the “Broken Window Fallacy”.

    If her Ms Flanders and her ex-boyfriends had their way Britain would be borrowing at cripplingly high interest rates and the damage to the British economy would be every bit as long lasting as the effect the Nazis had.


    • Alan says:

      Yep….the debts were only finally paid off in 2006…and only 1/10th of the value of goods we actually received was repaid…at 2% interest….and we still owe an estimated £225 billion to the US for WWI and we had rationing until the 1950′s imposed upon us.

      No wonder she thinks the war was good…it was a bargain!


  9. Richard Pinder says:

    No mention of the British civil servant John Cowperthwaite who put the ideas of the free market economy into practice in the British colony of Hong Kong in 1971, which then ultimately lead to the communist Chinese adopting for present day China. If it was the Chinese Broadcasting Corporation, the three would have been Friedman Hayek and Cowperthwaite.


  10. imaynotalwaysloveyou says:

    Don’t forget the ultimate aim is to ruin the Western capitalist economies. Even if the BBC apparatchiks may not individually actively propose it it in this generation, the project has been germinating for 50 odd years.


  11. Jim Dandy says:

    The IEA whose Phillip Booth appearedpraised the programme. See here fir a balanced review.


    I think Alan, having argued that Flanders used the term “Austrian” to imply Hayek was linked to Hitler, should retire from his parlous attempts to see bias in this programme.