Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher kept her feet dry

When King Canute of England was carried down to the beach at Southampton by his loyal courtiers to prove that the King’s will could prevail over the incoming tide; I am sure the King was expecting to get his feet wet.  1,000 years later the daughter of a grocer from Grantham turned the tide of social and economic history without the support of powerful courtiers.  Her name was Margaret Thatcher and she never expected to get her feet wet.

After winning a scholarship to Oxford, Margaret Roberts became absorbed by politics, and she determined to become a Conservative MP. After two careers, marriage to Dennis Thatcher and motherhood she won the seat of Finchley in the 1959 election. She held the seat until her retirement from the Commons in 1992. She soon impressed, but her early showing gave few clues to the ‘force of nature’ that she would become.

Britain has been lucky that our geographic isolation and stable economy have allowed us to develop without great upheavals, unlike our continental neighbors we have evolved gently into the country we are today.  Only very occasionally is a more robust approach required to correct dangerous influences before we return again to our preferred evolutionary approach: Henry ii, Elizabeth i, Oliver Cromwell are examples of strong leaders who have been required to get us back on course.  There is no doubt that Margaret Thatcher stands alongside these standard bearers of British leadership.
Mrs T - one of the big shots of British history

In 1979 Britain was a broken and bankrupt.  Having lost both the status of a superpower and our financial reserves thanks to the First and Second World Wars; we were hell bent self-destruction.  Britain had been in social and economic decline for years, we even had the French lecturing us on how to run our country.  Against this back drop, Margaret Thatcher waded into the surf and commanded the tide of socialist dogma and moral bankruptcy to abate.  How exciting and nerve-racking it was!

She was undoubtedly a gambler – she risked all (on our behalf) time and time again – Monetary and Fiscal Controls, Trade Union legislation, the Falklands Island, the coal miners, the privatisation’s, the IRA, the deregulations, the EU budget and finally and fatally the Poll Tax.  The historians can pour over the details and make their own judgments but it’s clear to me, and I suspect most of the country, that without her we would now be in a similar position to Greece only without their good weather.  

So for those of us who remember what it was like before the Iron Lady turned the tide the news that Mrs Thatcher died of a stoke earlier today is really very sadly – God bless you and your dry feet!

The economist has much more:

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