Monday, 8 April 2013
Margaret, The Baroness Thatcher LG, OM, PC, FRS
I have occasionally thought how I would react when I heard today's inevitable news.
Now I know. I am sitting in my office, numb, and typing this with tears in my eyes. Jon, who was born in 1987, has no recollection of her leadership and probably has little understanding why I am reacting like this. Nor, I suspect, will most of my friends. Baroness Thatcher was, after all, an elderly lady, and death comes to us all.
For me, however, she was and remains so much more than any Prime Minister since.
In 1979 I was a young boy of 13 years of age, living on a council estate on the outskirts of Merseyside. Her inspiration and leadership changed not only the nation, but gave me, and millions of children like me, hope and aspiration.
The dead hand of Socialism, condemning each of us to the life of the lowest common denominator, whether in education, housing, wealth or opportunity, was no longer the only option. Mrs Thatcher really did give us the audacity to hope. I have no doubt that her leadership, her personal courage and her policies provided opportunity for me and millions of others.
No longer must we accept the hand we were dealt. No longer must we face a future of municipal do-goodery with cradle to the grave Socialism. Prosperity, opportunity and ownership were not the for the privileged few, but through hard work could be obtained by all.
And yes, she made me so very proud to be British.
No Prime Minister is perfect and no government free from errors; and Mrs Thatcher was no exception. The language was harsh and too many people were left behind. Towards the end, she stopped listening and lost her touch. An inevitable consequence of power.
She left office, however, undefeated. Following her very early failure to win Dartford, she was to never lose an election again, be it as Member of Parliament for Finchley & Friern Barnett, a General Election as Prime Minister or an election for leadership of the Party. It should never be forgotten that she polled more votes against Michael Heseltine when she lost the leadership than John Major polled when he won it. She was never defeated, by any electorate.
With her friend and political soul mate, President Reagan, they really did change the world. They proved that the ratchet effect of Socialism could be reversed, their policies of sound money and strong defence saw off the Soviet Union, defended the Falklands and liberated hundreds of millions of people from oppressive Communism.
It will be a long time, if ever, before we see the likes of her again.