The Facts About Margaret Thatcher You Can’t See on Her Wikipedia Entry

Around May 12th I tried to add some facts about Margaret Thatcher on her Wikipedia entry. It took me a couple of days to enter all the laborious citations and references required.

Sadly, it was all removed a week later by a Wikipedia editor on grounds that I was coatracking, ie “entering a Wikipedia article that ostensibly discusses the nominal subject, but in reality is a cover for a tangentially related biased subject”. I asked them on the Discussion page how I should enter these facts, but I’ve not had an answer yet.

So Margaret Thatcher’s Wikipedia entry still does not contain these four basic facts about Margaret Thatcher PM:

  1. That she instigated sudden financial deregulation (the 1986 Big Bang)
  2. That she deindustrialised the UK by suddenly cutting subsidies to industry
  3. That she let investment capital flood out of Britain by abolishing UK exchange controls
  4. That she abandoned regional economic development (the 1983 Regional Economic Development white paper)

A Wikipedia editor, in deleting all my additions, simply said: “A white paper on industrial development is not sufficiently notable for that”.

Notable for what? The north/south divide maybe? So the 1983 Regional Economic Development white paper which suddenly removed all regional economic development established by the Wilson government of 1964 isn’t “sufficiently notable”. Maybe the ’83 white paper didn’t lead to the north/south divide and it isn’t “sufficiently notable” and not worthy of a Wikipedia entry. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the two events are linked, but the fact is in 1983 there was a white paper that abandoned regional economic development and you wouldn’t know that looking at Wikipedia.

You might think that Margaret Thatcher changed Britain forever when she abandoned UK exchange controls.

“A comparison of data in the six quarters before abolition in June 1979 with those for the subsequent two quarters reveals a total effect of £638m a quarter on foreign currency borrowing to finance direct investment.”

So £638 million was taken out of the UK in 6 months for investment abroad. Surely that would make it worthy of a Wikipedia entry, but the editor would say,  “it’s not sufficiently notable for that”.

You might think that Margaret Thatcher changed Britain forever when she deindustrialised the UK by suddenly cutting subsidies to industry. 100000 jobs were lost every month in the 1980s. Surely that would make it worthy of a Wikipedia entry, but “it’s not sufficiently notable for that”.

You might think that Margaret Thatcher’s sudden financial deregulation in 1986, the so-called Big Bang, changed Britain forever. Maybe financial deregulation didn’t lead to the 2007 credit crunch, but surely it’s worth a Wikipedia entry. Unless, of course, “it’s not sufficiently notable for that”.

I wonder why there are no references to these key areas on Margaret Thatcher’s Wikipedia entry. I’d like Wikipedia to be relevant, and not look as though it’s airbrushing history. The ‘Legacy’ section has the critics’ view of Thatcher, and is balanced. It’s just woefully lacking in facts.

References

Cambridge Histories online, The Cambridge Economic History of Great Britain.

http://www.cepr.org/pubs/bulletin/dps/dp294.htm

http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/changhyun/NSthatcher.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/blog/2008/oct/14/creditcrunch-thatcher-reagan

Economy: 1979 Budget (Exchange Control), publisher=Margaret Thatcher Foundation,  http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/109497

“In the June 1979 budget, along with chancellor Geoffrey Howe, she immediately started dismantling the apparatus of exchange controls on outward capital flows from the UK despite warnings from Labour members that this would threaten jobs in theUnited Kingdom.”

Trends in unemployment and earnings: http://www.jstor.org/pss/20002215

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