RICK JACKSON: Look around you... and say thank you to the 1980s

The former prime minister, the late Margaret Thatcher
The former prime minister, the late Margaret Thatcher
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Apart from the Olympics, the best thing on TV for me this month was The 1980s on BBC2, written and presented by historian Dominic Sandbrook.

Like me, he was a child of the 1980s, so they are a decade I always see through rose-tinted glasses. I loved the music, fashions, movies, TV, in fact everything about it.

On the last day of 1989, I was 16 years old. The UK was a very different place from my memories of 1980 – power cuts and travelling by bus. Those from 1989 are of home computers and a new car!

We had to change. We were a tired old industrial nation, living at the hands of the unions in flabby, top-heavy industries.

We had to wait three months to get our first telephone installed back in 1981!

I suppose Margaret Thatcher’s dream was for all these nationalised companies to be owned by and answerable to its shareholders… us. Competition with rival companies as deregulation took place, would drive down prices and increase choice.

Sadly, this hasn’t happened quite the way she wanted. You have limited choice but to catch a train to London with South West Trains or take your car to the island with Wightlink. We still use only the Royal Mail to post letters and who owns it these days? Not us.

Maybe Maggie was wrong to sell off everything?

Dominic was right though. It wasn’t Margaret Thatcher who shaped the country we are in today, it was us.

We looked across at the America’s huge shopping malls, wearing designer clothes, enjoying all the latest gadgets from mobile phones to home computers.

Here, we wanted less Tricorn and more Gunwharf Quays.

And that was the will of the people. All Maggie did was facilitate that. Open the country up and make us more ready for business.

It’s a shame we no longer build ships like QE2 or trains like Mallard.

But we now make wings for the Airbus A380 and cars for Nissan at its Sunderland plant, which outperforms those back in Japan.

We are still very much Great Britain, thanks to the 1980s.