Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Thatcher was a typical woman leader: untypical of women

Margaret Thatcher was not typical of women. They don't say! Of course, as a leader, how could she be typical of women? Women typically of all things do not want to join men in climbing a male dominance-hierarchy; even if this is just to ape men in climbing a corporate (or other organisational) male-styled greasy pole. They do not do so for the obvious reason that there is nothing in it for them. Rank in a hierarchy confers status on men, which is mate-value in male terms -- what makes men attractive to women. There is no such thing as female mate-value in status terms. Female attractiveness is fertility – youth and 'beauty'. Female sociality is not dominance-hierarchy but personal-network – an extension from family/friends in a linear chain of association. So a woman who feels driven to be 'top dog' beyond following a keen interest with a great conscientiousness, understandably is questioned.

As for the 'queen bee' pulling up the ladder behind her: yes, and it's also other women pulling the ladder down. Plenty of survey research shows a deep antipathy of women to women bosses. Through female sociality being personal-networking, then female in-grouping psychology correspondingly is very different from the all-inclusive nature of the male equivalent. It includes those belonging to the woman boss' chain of the personal-network but excludes others – most of those within the work-group. These women 'underlings' are bound to feel resentment towards a woman boss who nepotistically excludes them. They may well view the woman boss as playing an 'unfair' double sexual game of not just displaying fertility but also aping men (in climbing the amorphous version of male dominance-hierarchy that is the corporate ladder) so as to cross paths with high-status men.

Female leaders throughout history, just like Margaret Thatcher, have been uncompromising, war-mongering, and non-empathetic. Why was anyone surprised? As pointed out by the author of the book, 'Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology' (Irene Claremont de Castillejo): a woman leader combines the worst of both sexes in her un-caring ruthlessness, displaying the ultimate nepotistic self-interested nature of the mother with children.

I live in Sheffield, the capital of the UK steel industry – still today, with its high-spec world-beating facilities. Back in the early 1980s it was the first target of Margaret Thatcher's confrontation with union power. At that time, every job in British Steel was subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £100 per week – similar to the median weekly wage back then. Clearly unsustainable as a mass 'clog iron' producer for an over-supplied world market, the UK steel industry was (as was all too apparent from the ancient restrictive practices) grossly over-manned. But as with Thatcher's way of dealing with the similarly nationalised and union-hobbled coal industry, instead of a rational rationalisation to retain a necessary strategic large rump, the policy was to eliminate all but a tiny portion that could survive de-nationalisation.

The former finance director of Sheffield Forgemasters, my uncle, Alan Moxon, would tell you in forceful terms that a necessarily capital-intensive industry like steel requires levels of investment that private capital is always unwilling to gamble. Government partnership is crucial, whether or not it's in the form of full-blown nationalisation. So while it's true that Thatcher was right to take on the far too powerful union vested interest, the way she went about it destroyed vital principal parts of the UK's manufacturing base; the dire consequences of which we continue to suffer. Principled action can be noble, but it can also lead to a blindness to proper concerns of strategic value, let alone tactical advantage; with the result of missed opportunities to constructively compromise. 

The great myth of the Thatcher era is that the reversal of state power was to save money, but public spending actually increased during Margaret Thatcher's premiership. So a balanced assessment of Margaret Thatcher hardly can be reverential. Perhaps the destruction of an essential section of our manufacturing future along with the 'rust-bucket' manufacturing past would have been justifiable if it had put us on the path of a truly financially sustainable future, but it did not.

No thanks, then, are due to female leadership. And if anyone is in doubt about this, just take a look at the most prominent women politicians in the Labour and Conservative parties: respectively Harriet Harman and Theresa May. Just imagine either of those horror-stories as prime minister.

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