Why has no Thatcher or Reagan emerged for our troubled times?

What does surprise me, though, is how the Thatcher example is not well used by current politicians. For a long time after her fall in 1990, this was understandable. She cast a long shadow from which younger leaders wished to escape. And the politics of the Tony Blair era (though Mr Blair himself was clever enough to learn a great deal from her) were the politics of plenty. The Thatcher example is not so relevant to such times: she would never have become Tory leader, or prime minister, without a crisis. But from the moment in August 2007 when the interbank markets froze up, the Western world has been in a financial crisis – and hence, after a bit, an economic and political crisis – from which it has still not emerged.

Debate rages about Mrs Thatcher’s role in all of this. Was it her liberalisations, such as the Big Bang in the City of London, which contributed to the eventual disaster? Or was it a global deviation from her belief that the market must punish failure as well as reward success that brought catastrophe?

Whatever the answer, the odd thing is that this extremely troubled time has brought forth no Thatcher equivalent. No new leader has “kitchen-sinked” the problem, boldly analysing what is wrong and forthrightly expounding what to do about it. It seemed, for a time, as if Barack Obama might answer this need, but it turns out that he is not really interested in economic questions.

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