Nigel Lawson

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Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby PC (born 11 March 1932) is a British politician. Originally a financial journalist, he was editor of The Spectator from 1966 to 1970. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer between June 1983 and October 1989 during the government of Margaret Thatcher and oversaw a sizable reduction in taxes as well as the privatization of many state-owned companies. He fell out with Mrs Thatcher over the issue of European monetary co-operation and resigned suddenly over her having supplanted him with one of her own advisers.

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  • The successful sale of British Telecom...reveals a vast and untapped yearning among ordinary people for a direct stake in the ownership of British enterprise. Investment in shares has begun to take its place, with ownership of a home and either a bank or building society deposit, as a way for ordinary people to participate in enterprise and wealth creation. We are seeing the birth of people's capitalism.
    • On the privatisation of BT (November 1984).
  • Those who, in the nineteenth century, argued the dangers of a mass democracy in which a majority of the voters would have no stake in the country at all, had reason to be fearful. But the remedy is not to restrict the franchise to those who own property: it is to extend the ownership of property to the largest possible majority of those who have the vote. The widespread ownership of private property gives is crucial to the survival of freedom and democracy. It gives the citizen a vital sense of identification with the society of which he is a part. It gives him a stake in the future—and indeed, equally important, in the present. It creates a society with an inbuilt resistance to revolutionary change.
    • Maurice Macmillan Memorial Lecture (June 1985).
  • The acid test of monetary policy is its record in reducing inflation. Those who wish to join the debate about the intricacies of different measures of money and the implications they may have for the future are welcome to do so. But at the end of the day the position is clear and unambiguous. The inflation rate is judge and jury.
    • Mansion House Speech (17 October, 1985).
  • Nothing could be further from the truth than the claim that we have a choice between cutting tax and cutting unemployment, for the two go hand in hand.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (Hansard, 18 March, 1986, Col. 182).
  • During the 1960s, and again in the 1970s, growth in manufacturing productivity in the United Kingdom was the lowest of all the seven major industrial countries in the world. During the 1980s, our annual rate of growth of output per head in manufacturing has been the highest of all the seven major industrial countries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (Hansard, 17 March, 1987, Col. 816).
  • We had to dispel the notion that the way to economic success lies through a sort of fiscal levitation. That was the abiding post-war delusion—that governments could spend and borrow their way to prosperity, and fine-tune the performance of the economy through something known pretentiously as demand management...It used to be an establishment nostrum that you need a budget deficit to get economic growth. That was the belief which lay behind the notorious letter by 364 economists in March 1981. We have given the lie to that, decisively. There can no longer be any argument about it. Everyone—or almost everyone—now accepts that the proper role of macro-economic policy is to keep downward pressure on inflation and to maintain a stable framework in which the private sector can expand.
    • Nigel Lawson, Tax Reform: The Government's Record (Conservative Political Centre, June 1988).
  • Our achievement...has been to show that you can build far greater, and far more lasting, prosperity by letting people co-operate in the freedom of the market place than by making them submit to the coercion of Government regulations and state bureaucracy. If you look around the world today, East and West, even in Soviet Russia and Communist China, you will see that lesson being taken to heart...The truth is that a prosperous world based on free and open markets is a world of co-operation and interdependence between the people of all nations. By contrast, a world of closed, State controlled economies is a world disposed towards confrontation and conflict.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (13 October, 1988).
  • The fears of recession in the aftermath of Black Monday have turned to fears of the economy racing ahead too fast, with inflation edging up and a substantial current account deficit...people understandably feel more confident about their future than they've done for decades, but as a result they have been borrowing more and saving less...coming on top of a massive income investment boom, it's all been just a bit too much of a good thing.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (13 October, 1988).
  • If I really believed in Friedman's economic theory, then I'd be quite satisfied to spend the rest of my life with a garden hose shoved down my throat, being filled with custard by representatives of the people of China.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (13 October, 1988).
  • Economic and monetary union...is incompatible with independent sovereign states with control over their own fiscal and monetary policies. It would be impossible...to have irrevocably fixed exchange rates while individual countries retained independent monetary policies...such a system could never have the credibility necessary to persuade the market that there was no risk of realignment. Thus EMU inevitably implies a single European currency, with monetary decisions...taken not by national Governments and/or central banks, but by a European Central Bank. Nor would individual countries be able to retain responsibility for fiscal policy. With a single European monetary policy there would need to be central control over the size of budget deficits and, particularly, over their financing. New European institutions would be required, to determine overall Community fiscal policy and agree the distribution of deficits between individual Member States...It is clear that Economic and Monetary Union implies nothing less than European Government...and political union: the United States of Europe. That is simply not on the agenda now, nor will it be for the forseeable future.
    • Speech to the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House (25 January, 1989).

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