Monday, April 08, 2013

Lady Thatcher RIP

I'll now be able to watch the film - having steadfastly refused to watch 'The Iron Lady' while Lady Thatcher lived. My tweet on hearing the news was "Like Denis Thatcher, I married an attractive Miss Roberts. My wife changed me. His wife transformed the world. Irresistable woman power". Because Lady Thatcher had reached the good age of 87yrs, and had been reported to be in poor health for a long time, I don't feel an emotional sense of sadness. Its more a question of acknowledging and celebrating the life of one of the world's greatest politicians of the 20th century.

She changed the Conservative Party. No longer to be the unconfident compromiser it had become. When Edward Heath's time as leader was up, it was only Margaret Thatcher who had the gonads to take him on. That was probably because she was an 'outsider' - not part of any political elite. At the time I expected Willie Whitelaw to become leader, and he probably would have done if he'd been equipped with Mrs T's ruthless streak. Instead he became her greatest support - and much admired for it. It was also quite a thing for the Conservative Party to elect a woman as its leader. Always been a party of surprises.

She changed Great Britain. Many of us think she saved it from a spiral of decline. I remember the 1970s, when most of us assumed we could not go on without compromising with the unions. Britain was an economic 'basket case'. Of all the transformative changes Mrs Thatcher drove through, her confrontation with and comprehensive defeat of trade union power was the most important. She was fortunate to have the strategically inept Arthur Scargill as her opponent - but it still needed steel and vision to succeed. She created a new generation of property owners by selling tenants their council houses. And she showed the world that Britain was not going to be walked on by retaking the Falkland Islands after the outrageous invasion by Argentina. Like many at the time I thought that was a very risky venture, and would have chickened out. No-one but 'The Iron Lady'. I recall having the radio with me in the garden every evening, listening for latest developments. Its easy to forget now, but when the Sheffield and Glamorgan were hit by Exocets, things were not looking good. Again she showed that she was the only one with the necessary gonads.  She showed us her "lion-hearted love for her country".

She also played a big part in changing the world. Through the personal relationships she developed with the hugely under-rated (in the UK at least)  Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, she helped defeat the dangerous Soviet communist threat to world peace and prosperity.  And that, above all else is why history will be very kind to Margaret Hilda Thatcher.

Mrs Thatcher was brought down by her own party - which used the EU as its weapon. But even here Mrs Thatcher was right. She was always supportive of an extended EU, bringing in a wide range of countries into a trading relationship - and more. But she suspected that France and Germany were intent on creating a federal Europe, diminishing the role of nation states. She was not supportive of that. She would have been a passionate opponent of the madness of the Euro, which will some day create serious conflict in Europe. Today, the people of Britain, in my opinion, share the view she had of the EU at the time that she was ousted. The truth is she never lost a General Election, and the brutality of her ousting continues to discomfort the Conservative Party today - though diminished by time.

There will be many who take a very different view from mine. It's simply is not possible to tear apart old orthodoxies and vested interests as she did, and not create enemies. And there were failures, notably the Community Charge. But the reality is that almost all of the changes she presided over have not been reversed by successive Gov'ts including 13 yrs of Labour dominance. She was one the four greatest Prime Ministers of the 20th Century - a truly great politician. Lady Thatcher RIP.


bonetired said...

Glyn ... I have spent today reminding people, not of the 1970's, but how in the 1980's Labour was completely unelectable. Gerald Kaufman's comment on the Labour parties manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history" was bang on the mark. Her mistake was to carry on a couple of years too long. Enoch Powell's phrase that "all political careers end in failure" was just so accurate in her case.

Glyn Davies said...

bonetired - I sort of agree with you. Certainly did so at the time. Thought she should have retired after 10 yrs. But today, I feelits right that she shouldhave been toppled in Shakespeare-esque tragedy involving skullduggery. It justs seems right today

Anonymous said...

Will miss her - knowing she was still alive gave me comfort - Margaret Thatcher had well deserved iconic status. With her in power the country stood tall. Speaking now with my American hat on; Margaret Thatcher was a dear friend of America - as somebody else once said: we will not see her like again. A great leader in troubled times - she oozed confidence and surety, Margaret Thatcher was a rock. RIP Margaret.

Anonymous said...

^ Christopher Wood (I'm having trouble identifying myself in posts to Blogger so I have to post as 'anonymous')

streets585 said...

I to am a great admirer of Thatcher as I believe that she did what was needed at that particular time to put things right in a country where things were going very wrong. Yes, very sadly, some got left behind, yes others took advantage in a quite unpleasant and uncaring way, and yes her eventual downfall was due to her 'believing her own press' about being tbe Iron Lady etc etc...but she was a 'conviction politician' who did what she thought was right....there is a very distinct lack of her kind in politics these days and we are seeing people just not caring about it any more....not sure we will ever see her like again..certainly the greatest PM in my lifetime (so far!)