Thatcher’s Child

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…

5 thoughts on “Thatcher’s Child

    1. Her popularity and reputation have always been greater when viewed from the outside.

      I was surprised to see such big crowds at her funeral, and so few of them protesters. Although those who weren’t fond of her were vocal, applause largely drowned them out. Mrs P and her dad happened to be in London, and got views right from the front outside St Clement Danes.

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  1. I have a lot of admiration for Margaret Thatcher. I vividly recall flying through Heathrow in the early 70’s as a small boy with my mother. Everyone was on strike, and we had to lug our very heavy bags across the miles of terminals ourselves, as the baggage handlers weren’t there to do it.

    Later, I remember London always suffering from one strike or other. Thatcher put an end to that and got everyone back to work, which is of course what you need to have a functioning society.

    As for whether she killed British manufacturing and mining, I suspect that the relative weakness of those industries in places like Continental Europe and the USA over the same time frame suggests that those industries were doomed to fall in the face of Asian and third-world competitors anyway. And the British auto industry fell on its own face through its own fault, something I lament. I’ve always loved the concepts put forth by the British car industry, but the execution (to put it politely) always sucked.

    I certainly miss Thatcher’s conviction and determination. I think she was an amazing leader and the world is poorer for her passing.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we could stand a Thatcher or two stateside to straighten out the mess we’re in.

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    1. I make the argument, usually a futile one in the face of those who simply dislike her, that our industries were killed by the militant unions and weak governments over the course of two or three decades before Thatcher came to power.

      My grandfather worked for BA at Heathrow for 30 years, as a baggage supervisor/manager. He was a decent sort, who’d have no pilfering from suitcases on his shift. That, for a while, made him a bit unpopular I believe. A sense of entitlement comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

      She fixed an awful lot. That what was salvageable anyway. The car industry, alas, was not. Not in British ownership anyway. It’s doing just fine now, albeit in a smaller form. Quality has, you’ll be delighted to hear, improved.

      I’m not sure I’d agree that we could use a Thatcher or two nowadays though. She’d be as steadfast on the austerity track as our current incumbents. She was, very much an answer to a different set of problems. And truth be told, she did overstay her welcome. She should probably have called it a day in ’87.

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