I am, possibly, the definitive Thatcher’s Child. Well, me and all those of my age. Margaret Thatcher won the first General Election I remember, when I just just six years old and about to enter education proper. She was still PM when I hit the age of 18. I grew up in a Britain that was riven with division, evolving from a manufacturing economy into a services based economy, and those my age finished our education having known no other leader.
Some will tell you that she saved Britain, transforming a bankrupt state in decline into a prosperous world power once more. Others will decry her tenure as one that destroyed our industries, sold off our assets and threw millions onto the scrap heap. Both sides are quite correct. I’d offer counters to both sides. Our national prosperity was created at huge human cost, based on unfair and short term deregulation, funded by credit that laid the foundations for our current economic malaise. On the other hand, the unions had become so powerful, so militant, so detached from reality that they were destroying the very industries they were supposed to be trying to safeguard – someone had to stop them. They made quite clear that it was death or victory, comrades. Thatcher heard the cry, and obliged.
I sometimes enjoy sitting on the fence. As I’ve made obvious in some of my recent posts, I don’t believe that anything is black or white. I neither think of Thatcher as a savior or a monster. She was, very clearly, one of the most important Prime Ministers of the last, or any, century. I’ll jump off the fence for a moment. Despite my reservations, I’d rather have had her win the 79 and 83 elections than someone else. She served a purpose. It would have been an idea if she’d stepped aside in 87. Eight years was enough. On the other hand…maybe not. She is everything that the current incumbent at No 10 is not.
Britain is better off today for her having triumphed. I admire any politician whose policies I believe to be a product of their convictions rather than a product of a popularity contest. Even when I don’t agree with them. Margaret Thatcher most certainly did not sit on the fence. She was certainly easy to look up to. Especially for a six year old boy curiously observing electoral history being made. I liked, and still like, Margaret Thatcher. I wish her well, wherever she is going now. She was never one for turning. If she can see a white light, I might suggest that now is not the best time to start…