1. Margaret Thatcher for weakening the regulations on British banking. This worked really well during her lifetime in its own terms. It brought a lot of banking activity to London. Unfortunately it also brought a culture of reckless gambling with other people's money that gave us the 2008 crash. Almost ten years later we are still suffering the after effects of a naive belief that free markets always work. Unless of course you are a deregulated banker with a specialist interest in making money from manipulating rates and selling complex packages of loans. For them it is back to making good money safe in the knowledge that the taxpayer will be forced to help out if their gambles go wrong provided that they are large enough.
2. Margaret Thatcher for selling off council houses too cheaply and not replacing them. She was right to let people buy the home they lived in. She was wrong to give them a subsidy and spend the receipts instead of investing them back on building new homes. As a result she has wrecked all serious chance of young people today participating in a home buyer democracy. Unless of course they have access to inherited wealth. A policy sold as allowing people to climb the ladder has now produced a society where your parents wealth matters a lot more than your own hard work. The ladder has been pulled up and the modern Conservative Party doesn't have the faintest idea of how to fix the damage so instead it keeps on introducing cosmetic quick fixes that don't work.
3. Top EU officials for inventing the Euro without thinking through the consequences. It should have been a great idea to begin to let people use the same money in different parts of Europe without having to worry about paying bankers commission every time they moved across a land border. It was considerably less clever to do this across quite so many nations quite so quickly with quite so little thought. Once the 2008 crash came it left European nations with no ability to devalue their currency to deal with the consequences and paved the way for the return of long term mass unemployment across much of Europe. Those of us who wish to stay in the EU need to be honest about its mistakes. This was a big one.
4. Chancellor Merkel for imposing austerity on Europe in the middle of an economic downturn. When people are in debt they are unlikely to get out of it if they are unemployed. When a nation is in debt they are going to find it every bit as hard to recover if too many of their citizens are unemployed. 25% unemployment is a really bad way to equip a country to service its debts and 50% youth unemployment that lasts for close to a decade is a dreadful punishment inflicted on people who played no part in the banking crisis that caused so many of our problems. Austerity has ruined the lives of millions of people without fixing any of the budget crises and given a powerful propaganda present to enemies of the EU.
5. Tony Blair for taking us into the Iraq war and all the politicians in the Conservative and Labour Party who backed him.
6. Boris Johnson for believing he could make himself Prime Minister by puffing up Brexit. Or Michael Gove for believing he could make himself Prime Minister by stabbing Johnson in the back. Or David Cameron for thinking he could indulge his right wing and attack the EU for five and a half years and then win a referendum by saying the opposite for a few weeks.
Every one of these bad decisions has one feature in common. It is that the politician making the decision believed in their own propaganda so much that they were willing to ignore the advice of those who pointed out at the time that their decisions were flawed. Put simply it is arrogance that is the common factor. Politicians make their worst decisions when they refuse to listen to sensible advice that runs counter to their pet ideas.
That is what is so staggeringly stupid about May's determination to force out the Senior Civil Servant who was trying to lead the UK's Brexit negotiations. You don't make good policy by telling senior civil servants that you don't want to hear any of the awkward truths. Advisors are no use at all if they just shut up and agree with you. Any good leader knows that the most valuable person in your team is the one who will stand up to you occasionally when you really need to hear about some hard realities that you are missing. The most useless member of your team is the one who always says yes. The next person appointed to lead the Brexit negotiations now knows the score. Theresa May only wants to hear naive optimism.
This should worry everyone in the country deeply. It isn't good news to discover that your country is being led by a Prime Minister who is naive, stubborn and bullying. I can think of only one reason for optimism about this. The thought that this might mean she is heading for a fall quickly enough to limit the damage.