Some people just don’t understand, do they?

Rents were controlled, public transport was cheap and plentiful and work was more secure, with the employer shouldering more of the national insurance costs.

NI is incident where?

Before Mrs Thatcher, many middle-class couples existed on one income, the women not working or only going back when their children were older, while many working-class women put in five half-days a week.

And it’s interesting to see someone supposedly on the left reviving the Kinder, Küche, Kirche idea, isn’t it?

51 comments on “Some people just don’t understand, do they?

  1. And in the 60s–before socialist bungling really took hold, lots of working families did alright on one wage. And much better with the kids having a full-time mother in the home.

  2. I had a quick read of some of the other letters, took one for the team so to speak, they really are barking aren’t they?

  3. I don’t get this whole ‘families could exist on one income in the good old days’ thing.

    They still can. And just like back then, one income families scrimped and saved. Hand-me-downs and lots of beans for supper, meat on special days.

    But when your expectations include multiple large tvs, a cable subscription, internet, a smart phone for everyone, 2+ cars, a goodly amount of nice clothes, central air – well that stuff adds up and you can’t do that unless that one income is yuge or you have two parents bringing money in from outside.

  4. But when your expectations include multiple large tvs, a cable subscription, internet, a smart phone for everyone, 2+ cars, a goodly amount of nice clothes, central air

    And a foreign holiday.

  5. Exactly, Agammamon. They’re comparing 1970s living standards and expectations with 40 years later, and they’re apparently surprised things have changed.

    Sure, live in a world with no CD player, no mobile phone. a tiny TV, a car that by today’s standards is a polluting deathtrap… when I was a nipper we didn’t even have our own phone line – it was shared with a neighbour (the State ran the phone network).

    I guess property and petrol were cheaper then (although perhaps not that much relative to incomes)… but then the UK was less crowded and petrol is bloody cheap before all the tax gets added. Leftists ought to consider those last two points.

    “public transport was cheap”

    Was it, really? Or was it cheap like the NHS is free?

  6. Dad used to wipe his arse with old newspaper in a hut at the end of the garden. I’ve got two toilets inside the house and triple-quilted bogrole.

    Thanks Maggie!

  7. New Zealand had no Thatcher, yet we have the same issues the Guardian says is due to Thatcher.

    Perhaps it wasn’t her after all.

    (Our “Thatcher”, such that it was, was a Labour government. Oooops!)

  8. Rents were controlled

    The Leftist dream. They get to live in a big posh house in North London and pay peanuts for it.

    Do they ever get embarrassed that most of their political philosophy involves taking money from other people to fund their own lifestyle?

  9. when I was a nipper we didn’t even have our own phone line – it was shared with a neighbour (the State ran the phone network).

    We got our own phone line when I was about 10, I think. Bought the house from the council at about the same timem co-incidentally just after the Thatchercaust began. A car when I was 16.

    ‘Abroad’ was somewhere you saw on the news or learned about at school. Actually, ‘England’ was abroad and somewhere exotic to go on holidays (Devon and Dorset). Dining out was so rare that it is hard to remember actual occasions.

    Oh yes, it was a paradise alright.

    Your average middle-class Lefty who dreams misty-eyed of the 1970s would be in tears within ten minutes if they had to live like that.

  10. I was watching a YouTube video of Milton Friedman explaining negatives income taxes, the interview was in 1968. He makes an aside where he says its really difficult in the modern world as parents still have to contribute to helping out their grown up children. (start at 2 minutes)

    And anyone who thinks that there were better days than now needs beating over the head with with Johan Norberg’s Progress. The introduction is titled “The Good Old Days Are Now” and starts with the Franklin Pierce Adams quote “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory”.

  11. Rob: don’t forget what passed for coffee! No self respecting contemporary lefty would make it past wakeup call. The horror! The horror!

  12. Do they ever get embarrassed that most of their political philosophy involves taking money from other people to fund their own lifestyle?

    Another in the series “Questions to which we know the answer” 🙂

  13. Ah, the 1970s lifestyle. I remember it well (as a kid). No central heating, one old car for a family of 4, all food cooked at home (no eating out or takeaways), one holiday per year (a week or two in the UK), home entertainment consisted of a radio (we had no TV until the 80s), clothes came from jumble sales, nothing was bought new and everything was used until it fell apart and was no longer repairable. I think a bike I got one birthday was 4th hand (which incidentally ties in well with what I saw just the other day driving through a village close to me – two bikes, one adult, one kids, propped against a fence with a sign Free to Collector). We are so wealthy now as a society that charity shops are inundated with goods that no-one wants, the local tip will be used to dispose of unwanted items as opposed to ones that don’t work or are broken.

  14. We are so wealthy now as a society that charity shops are inundated with goods that no-one wants, the local tip will be used to dispose of unwanted items as opposed to ones that don’t work or are broken.

    Yes. Somehow the 1970s were better for everyone YET we are a shamelessly materialistic culture which consumes too much.

    Another of the ludicrous contradictions the Left manages to handle.

  15. I remember in the 1980s I had a bus pass that allowed me to travel to Fleetwood or Lytham from Blackpool. Cost was around half the cost of a bus pass in 2013 – 26 years later and in a different region but still allowing a lot of distance to be covered- basically west midlands.
    So for me as an adult compared to me as a child the bus fares are cheaper now.

    My wife and I both work, we have one income. Hers.
    Strangely enough we manage. Perhaps we simply don’t have the massive outgoings some choose to have.
    Came across a lady recently complaining she was paying £200 a month for a mobile phone bill, that’s not travelling overseas that’s in the UK. My bill is £10.

  16. Public transport might have been cheap(er) but the commuting journeys were much shorter. People bought cars because tickets for a family to go anywhere cost a lot more.Those cars often had no heating let alone no radio. A 1969 Ford Cortina with no frills would struggle to do 30 mpg. Foreign holidays now are usually cheaper than holidaying in the UK, and taking into account the weather here, are better value for money anyway.

    Sure, with a lower middle class income a house purchase was affordable, but you didn’t get much for your money: one open fire,, single glazing, one bathroom/toilet – and in the first half of the century, no bathroom and an outside toilet.

  17. ” Somehow the 1970s were better for everyone YET we are a shamelessly materialistic culture which consumes too much. Another of the ludicrous contradictions the Left manages to handle.”

    I’m beginning to think that the Lefts mental gyrations boil down to the principle that they ( the Left being largely middle class now) can no longer differentiate themselves from the masses like they used to be able to, and make themselves feel superior. So the fact the masses can now afford the same holidays, the same cars, the same electronic goods, even things that used to be the preserve of the well to do middle classes such as owning horses and boats and leisure vehicles, means that the only way your middle class State employed white collar worker can show he’s ‘better’ than the blue collar masses is by the house he lives in, and thus has to shell out a fortune to live in an upscale area. And moans bitterly about this, while at the same time wishing the masses didn’t have the ability to afford all the same consumer goods he does.

  18. Danny Dorling actually wrote a whole book about how the rage is really driven by the 1% realising that they’re not comparable to the 0.1% any more.

    You know, newly appointed Professors of Social Geography at Oxford can no longer afford those nice large houses in North Oxford because banking and industry now pay so much better.

  19. @Jim

    Indeed. I’ve mentioned before that the worst snobbery I’ve experienced has been from middle-class people that don’t like being overtaken by the oiks.

    These people hate Thatcher (and think “working class” should rhyme with “arse”, which sounds funny as fuck to a northerner.)

    Having been left behind materially, they rely instead on a superior attitude (racist, sexist, bigot, xenophobe etc etc).

  20. A small bit of anecdata in the amount of wealth growth just in my lifetime – when I started playing club cricket in the late 80s every club had a club kit bag. That is to say a bag of pads, bats, gloves etc that were for communal use. Players would turn up with their whites and boots in a small bag, change, and play using the club kit. I spent a good part of the nineties lugging the club kit bag around in my car.

    Nowadays every player, even the smallest child, has his own massive kit bag, stuffed full of the latest bats, pad, boots (two sorts, spikes and non-spikes), helmets, thigh pads, every conceivable piece of kit you would need to play in a Test match. Changing rooms are rammed to the gunnels with kit. No adult team has a club kit bag any more, they might still exist for the youngest age groups when kids are first introduced to cricket. Once they get to mid teens, they have all the kit.

  21. We rented our TV from Radio Rentals. When it broke then sent a one-armed repair man to come and fix it. He had a set of tool attachments he could add to his stump. Interesting to watch him at work.

  22. A national coach holiday company will take you from Gateshead to a Gatwick airport hotel for 3 nights, with 1 excursion day in London ( several highly rated tax payer funded free museums alert ) and 1 in Windsor. Dinner bed and breakfast included. The cost is £129 a head!
    The tripadvisor reviews number above 2,000 for this ‘holiday’ and average 2* because it’s basic stuff. This reflects the collective attitude of the reviewing community that they judge a place on what they get, not the ratio of what they are getting to what they paid out.

  23. “public transport was cheap and plentiful”

    And it isn’t today?

    I can travel on Stagecoach anywhere in the South of England for a day for about £7. I sometimes use it to go to the JR Hospital from my house: bus to Swindon station, bus to Oxford, bus to the JR and back again (I have eye tests and can’t drive home).

    Family day out to Bath from Swindon with a family railcard is about £10. I struggle to do that by car with parking.

    Even commuter fares aren’t too bad. Swindon to Bristol is £21. But you’ll spend £15 on petrol by car, let alone parking and hassle.

    The only fares that are really expensive are commutes into London. And that’s simply about demand. Swindon to London is full after Didcot. So, what the hell are railways supposed to do? Charge less for a seat?

  24. Incomes have been stagnant for a decade (2006-2016), in nominal terms. Train fares have risen at RPI each year. Yes, public transport etc is more affordable than in the 1970s; but it’s dearer than 2006. Given that the average Guardian writer seems to be under 35, they’re only talking about what they know.

  25. Bongo,

    Surely Heathrow if Windsor’s on the itinerary? But yeah, I can see how they do it: fill a coach (very cheap per person if you can fill one), group booking airport hotels (almost giving away rooms at weekends), bit of profit on top. But only a bit.

    Who’s the company?

  26. A small bit of anecdata in the amount of wealth growth just in my lifetime – when I started playing club cricket in the late 80s every club had a club kit bag. That is to say a bag of pads, bats, gloves etc that were for communal use. Players would turn up with their whites and boots in a small bag, change, and play using the club kit. I spent a good part of the nineties lugging the club kit bag around in my car.

    Nowadays every player, even the smallest child, has his own massive kit bag, stuffed full of the latest bats, pad, boots (two sorts, spikes and non-spikes), helmets, thigh pads, every conceivable piece of kit you would need to play in a Test match. Changing rooms are rammed to the gunnels with kit. No adult team has a club kit bag any more, they might still exist for the youngest age groups when kids are first introduced to cricket. Once they get to mid teens, they have all the kit.

    +1 to this. I too had to lug the fucking mouldering kit bag around in my car, and no other fucker would bother to pack it at the end of the game. I had to ask someone, every time.

    I now have two bats, and I’m shit with both of them.

  27. @Bloke in Wiltshire
    It’s National coach holidays. I made a couple of slight errors in the earlier post – it’s Sunderland rather than Gateshead, and it’s £119 rather than £129.
    There are people whinging in the reviews, but at those prices you can knock yourself out on ahem ‘accessories’.

  28. “Incomes have been stagnant for a decade (2006-2016), in nominal terms. ”

    But that’s the the whole story. Chris Snowden has a good post up this morning.

    As the ONS notes, median incomes are already £1,000 higher than they were before the crash :

    ‘After taking account of inflation and changes in household structures over time, the median disposable income has increased by £600 (or 2.2%) since 2014/15 and is £1,000 higher than the pre-economic downturn level observed in 2007/08.’

    It seems to me that Office for National Statistics data should be more prominent in public debate than speculation from think tanks, but that is not how it works.

  29. Andrew M,

    That train fare rise is almost entirely about supply and demand. Trains to London are rammed. What is a train company to do but try to maximise the value of the seats? Cutting prices won’t carry more passengers.

    And I suspect a lot of it is being kept up by the public sector who don’t try and work on ways to avoid costs, but just pay them and demand more money from the taxpayer. Look at Abbey Road Studios. That was going to get turned into flats because it’s just too expensive. You can pay studio engineers a lot less money if they’re living in Wiltshire.

  30. The only cricket that I had that was my own up until about 1990 was a box, and I started playing at school in the ’60s.

    I was then allowed to treat myself to pads with Velcro straps (what a boon they were), gloves and a bat. I didn’t get any better.

  31. I still wear the old style ‘sunday best’ type button up white shirt to play cricket, the sort that you can see England players before the 90s playing in. Ian Botham charging in to the wicket, his shirt flapping loose in the breeze. I also have a pair of buckle up pads, because the modern ones are so huge they get in the way of your bat, and a pair of old school bowling boots, that go up over the ankle, and have the flat leather spiked sole. Far better to keep your ankles protected.

    As a result of all this I’m known as the 1920s cricketer in my team.

  32. When I was a kid, a milkshake was 25¢. My mother would sometimes give me a quarter so I could get one as a special treat while I waited for her to pick me up after my music lesson.

    Milkshakes are about $2.50 now. Ten times as much. Yet I can get all I want. You can keep the good ol’ days.

  33. Ah yes the good old days. Basic tax 35%, mortgage rate 16%, double-digit inflation, daily strikes.

    “Before Mrs Thatcher, many middle-class couples existed on one income…”

    That’s because there was nothing much to buy beyond essentials, and what there was was not affordable to most.

    Those of us old enough and with memories can point out, for example, that in the 1950s, 60s, 70s few had fridges or phones or cars or holidays, and since most people could not afford to buy a TV set, they were rented.

  34. I grew up in a one income household in the 80s and early 90s. Dad earnt the money, mum spent some of it on looking after the kids. Safe to say that dad did quite well for himself because we did go on at least one foreign holiday a year, had at least one car (back in the days when company cars were a thing) and updated the electronics every so often.

    And, in reference to the previous thread, my parents are not likely to need financial support from their sprogs either since dad’s final salary pension will see them both out unless social care becomes a requirement.

  35. Jim,

    That’s an excellent point about the cricket kit: I certainly remember the club kit bag. The only thing you’d really buy for yourself was a box.

  36. If you want to see how much wealthier we are now, look at the paraphernalia parents need to take their kids anywhere: car seats, push chairs, prams, etc. Somehow my parents made do with a VW beetle and 4 kids. Sure, regulation is driving the car seat thing but parents who have more than 2 kids now go and buy a fucking Range Rover.

  37. Another thing is the amount of money people spend on their pets nowadays – my friend has a memory foam bed for her dog for example. They also pay a fortune on pet insurance (but if you said they’d have to pay £20 to see the GP would go through the roof of course). Massive retail chains now exist to provide for this huge pet market, that never existed 30 years ago. Plus vets in those days stuck their hands up cows bums for a living, now thats probably less than 10% of their trade, the rest is all small animal work, plus horses, which are just very big pets.

  38. Agammamon,


    I don’t get this whole ‘families could exist on one income in the good old days’ thing.

    They still can. And just like back then, one income families scrimped and saved. Hand-me-downs and lots of beans for supper, meat on special days.

    But when your expectations include multiple large tvs, a cable subscription, internet, a smart phone for everyone, 2+ cars, a goodly amount of nice clothes, central air – well that stuff adds up and you can’t do that unless that one income is yuge or you have two parents bringing money in from outside.”

    It’s not even all that. We have one income, and a large TV, internet, smartphone for all, 2 cars, nice clothes, foreign holiday.

    But there’s ways of doing it. A friend of mine seems to change his large TV almost every year for this year’s model. I don’t. I bought a 32″ set when our CRT died, and I will replace it when it dies. My phone replaced a 3 year old one that died and I spent £160 on it. So, nothing fruity. Our cars are beaters that work. The kids have nice clothes, but they don’t have designer labels. Foreign holidays? You can actually do France pretty cheaply. Take the short crossing to Calais, avoid staying in the most touristy areas.

    There’s also other things you observe, like women who work like to spend a lot of it on themselves. They nearly always have new shiny cars. They spend a lot on clothes (for the office). They have spa weekends. And they eat out a whole lot. This is the big way people burn through money – they eat out a hell of a lot more than people of my parent’s generation. To be honest, I don’t get that at all. I get eating out at Le Manoir, but just going out to Pizza Express? Might as well buy Pizzas in from Tesco for £15. Same thing for a lot less money.

  39. @TimW,

    Is it “banking and industry pay so much better”?

    A person in industry, on about 3x current professor’s salary (hmm, can’t hazard a guess who I might thinking about) still wouldn’t be buying a landed pad in north Oxford. Still less the staff that would have gone with it back in the day. The professors I know in Manchester live in Moss Side Victorian terraced houses much like the one I owned as a doctoral student (and could pay the mortgage out of a research council grant and some careful juggling of credit cards). In fact I sold mine to one of them for 4 times what I paid for it.

    That was, and continues to be, a completely fucked up property market.

    And yes, the points about bigger TVs, foreign holidays, mobile phones, internet, satellite, and so on are well taken. But elsewhere they are called “consumer surplus” on the right, and used to defend the concept of relative poverty by everyone to the left of Adam Smith.

  40. BiG,

    It’s OK, but I don’t get why people go out for it. Even if you’re a lazy fucker, you can buy pizzas in supermarkets that are as good and slam them in the oven.

  41. “I don’t get why people go out for it. Even if you’re a lazy fucker, you can buy pizzas in supermarkets that are as good and slam them in the oven.”

    Simple – you don’t get to get dolled up and pretend you’re someone fashionable and trendy and loaded if you buy cheap (but better) frozen pizza and bottles of cheap (but better) wine and invite your mates round your place for a chin wag.

    Vast swathes of consumer spending are zero to do with nominal utility (the utility of what they are buying – food/cars/electronic goods/clothes) and everything to do with status signalling.

    I’m looking around my living room right now and I have virtually nothing new. I’ve got a Cambridge amp I bought new 20 years ago, and the monitor and printer for my PC. PC – secondhand. Speakers – secondhand. Chair I’m sitting in – secondhand. Log burner thats kept me warm for 10 years – secondhand. Proper rug/carpet – secondhand. Bits of furniture – secondhand. Sofa and armchairs – secondhand (belonged to my late grandmother). Desk I’m tapping away at – secondhand. I tell a lie, I’ve got two expensive glass lamps in here that were new, and a log basket too, although I have repaired that a couple of times to prolong its life.

    If you want to you can live extremely comfortably nowadays, just as long as you’re not trying to give the impression you’re some sort of millionaire jet setter. Sadly many are not prepared to do that.

  42. @Rob,

    We had a phone-line in first house in 1963 from day one. Moved in 1966 and had a phone-line with three phones in house less than one week after moving in.

    However, this was only possible as my father’s brother worked for GPO as a telephone engineer.

  43. I’ve been trying to find a list of items that carried a “wealth” tax in 1970 but to no avail. Cars were definitely on the list.

    That would give us a good insight into how wealthy we are now by comparison.

    And if we want snowflakes to understand how difficult life was take away their Internet and phones and make them write to each other using pen and paper and post it via snail mail.

  44. And if we want snowflakes to understand how difficult life was take away their Internet and phones and make them write to each other using pen and paper and post it via snail mail.

    Back in those bad old days, we did have the option of, you know, actually meeting people and talking to them rather than sending a text. I barely remember the 70s, but most of the times I do remember were either us out visiting relatives, me out playing in the park with my friends, or my mother’s friends coming around for a natter and a few cups of tea in the afternoon.

  45. pads with Velcro straps

    I hated the pads with buckles. The straps were either too lose and flapped about or too tight they cut the blood off to your foot. Agree about modern pads being big – I actually bought a youth size pair. They also tend to be wide, and I remember once playing straight down the line of the ball, the bat flicked the edge of the pad, moved sideways leaving a nice gap for the ball to squeeze through. I have been out in all the bizarrely unlucky ways you can think of, including on a hard pitch playing an immaculate forward defensive shot to an off-spinner, the ball bouncing up past my head, landing on my back and rolling down it onto the stumps.

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