Margaret Thatcher RIP

Everyone knew the day would come eventually.  But when the death of Margaret Thatcher was announced it didn’t lessen the impact of the moment.

I wasn’t always a fan.  When I was young, being conditioned by the prevailing attitudes in the solidly socialist Labour area where I was being brought up, to denigrate Maggie Thatcher was not only the norm, it was expected.  ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher’ was a familiar refrain in my school when she took office in 1979.

My mother was a Labour borough and county councillor and my father was an engineer at British Airways and senior trade union official in the TGWU as it then was.  There was little love for Maggie, but my parents were old school and despite their absolute rejection and dislike of Thatcher and the Conservatives they didn’t resort to name calling, abuse or vitriol.

The turning point for me was when as a teenager my class won a competition at school and the reward was a trip to the Houses of Parliament.  Coming from a political family I relished the trip, which was taking part on a Tuesday – Prime Minister’s Questions day.  The trip around the Palace of Westminster was led by the Conservative MP for the constituency in which my school was.

For me the visit was magical.  The history of the place and the events that had occured there, the sense of power that filled the corridors and meeting rooms, seeing famous faces of senior politicians walking past, entering the House of Commons from behind the Speaker’s Chair (and sneaking a quick sit down on the government’s front bench right in front of the dispatch box, just so I could say I had sat on a seat of power), and seeing just how small the chamber was compared to the impression pictures have constantly given.

But the highlight of my day was when the MP secured several tickets for the public gallery and I was given one.  When Parliament convened and Prayers were being said I raced up the stairwell as fast as I could.  I still remember the frustration as security checks delayed me getting into the gallery.  But eventually I was in and took a seat just as Neil Kinnock rose from his to ask his first supplementary question of the session.  He was on the attack about defence and Thatcher, in characteristic fashion tore him to pieces.  For a young teenager this was exciting, heady stuff in a rarefied atmosphere in a forum that mattered.

Rather than find myself in agreement with Kinnock’s argument, I found myself agreeing with Thatcher’s position.  I could not fault her logic, reasoning or the force of her argument.  That was the day when I learned to evaluate an argument on its merits, not assume a tribalist position just because that’s what my side’s position happened to be.  Mum and Dad were delighted that I started to debate them and challenge their thinking, and respond to their challenges with reasoned thinking of my own.  I’ll never forget that day; Mum said to me that she would respect any viewpoint I held, including and especially those that opposed hers, so long as it was an informed one that had been developed by carefully examining the arguments on both sides.

As years passed my dislike of Margaret Thatcher was replaced with respect and admiration for her.  Some people, those who detest Thatcher, wonder why. So I’ll explain.

My East End family lived on an urban council estate, tenants in a council house.  While honest, loving and hard working, the pay wasn’t great and Mum and Dad sometimes struggled to make ends meet.  As good parents do, Mum and Dad went without to ensure me and my siblings had what we needed.  My earliest memories were of power cuts and the excitement of having candles lighting the house.  Two things in my youth transformed our fortunes.  Council house right to buy and privatisation.

Thanks to her principles and convictions – two things the preening, identikit lightweights that have infested Parliament since do not possess – Margaret Thatcher saw to it my family was able to climb out of reliance on the state and become stakeholders instead of clients.  Mum left the Labour Party, having been sickened by policies that trapped people in dependency.  Dad too left the party, and the union, but went further and switched his vote too.  At last, hard work started to be rewarded in a way it hadn’t been before.  Aspiration was no longer something to be sneered at or viewed with suspicion, it was something shared by many.

I saw and experienced how my family was presented with the opportunity to take personal responsibility and enjoy the freedom to better ourselves.  My parents found they could do so much better with the state off our backs and more of their money in their pockets to spend as they saw fit.  Labour resented it and opposed it at every turn, desperate to re-apply the stranglehold that had kept us down for so long.

Margaret Thatcher’s policies contributed directly to my family’s emancipation from the waste, spitefulness and harm inflicted by socialism.  What she put in place has directly influenced my life and career.  For that I will always be grateful.

It’s no surprise seeing the hatred and bile now being hurled by those whose viewpoint is the opposite of mine.  Maggie did more than any other British leader to liberate this country from the socialist mentality that smashed our economy, saw the population held to ransom by unions, and was characterised by the demand for subsidies by (at that time) inefficient industries still wedded to socialist ideals despite overseas industries embracing efficiency and tackling costs to be more competitive.

Socialism is a vicious ideology, so naturally it follows the behaviour of its supporters can be relied upon to be equally hateful.  The sickening glee with which the death of an aged woman who transformed this country for the better wouldn’t be any surprise to the Iron Lady.  It would simply reinforce and evidence everything she said about socialism.  No doubt she would dismiss their behaviour with the contempt it deserves and simply point out they don’t know any better.

We have lost our last principled conviction politician, a Parliamentarian who had a guiding philosophy and who was motivated by a desire to improve this country rather than service a narrow self interested agenda.  We will never see her like again, much to the detriment of this country.

Thank you, Margaret.  Rest in peace.

18 Responses to “Margaret Thatcher RIP”

  1. 1 dellwilson 10/04/2013 at 10:53 pm

    Amen. Many American conservatives hold Thatcher dear to our hearts as we do Reagan.

  2. 2 blackswansblog 11/04/2013 at 4:25 am

    Wonderful words, AM. And a great pity these are not the sentiments that flow from our current Cabinet, & the bureaucrats in Brussels. What a different country ours could be with such a right-thinking Cabinet, & what a different – & even tolerable – organization the EU could be if it thought the same way as you & Maggie.

  3. 3 Scrobs... 11/04/2013 at 7:09 am

    Well written and thoughtful piece, AN.

  4. 4 The Gray Monk 11/04/2013 at 8:09 am

    Well said, AM. I agree with every word.

  5. 5 Andy Baxter 11/04/2013 at 8:22 am

    Now that was an eulogy…..

    If I may add my own…?

    I grew up in a North Durham pit community, experienced the hardship of the 70’s and remember so vividly the miners strike and the hardship it brought to my family. I remember so vividly hearing the dogma of “Layburrrss Farrr Tha Wurkin MAN” so many times I started to parody it just to cheer myself up when I needed a chuckle.

    Fortunately I was privileged, nay earned through merit the opportunity to be grammar school educated along with a selected few others from within the community based on the simple fact I had a brain, said brain was educated and taught to think and reason and question for its own (the reason socialism destroyed grammar schools without doubt) not propagandised with dogma and I too emerged with the ability to be reasoned into and out of opinions based on the strength and merit of the argument.

    My mother had an identical attitude and outlook to your own AM, but alas my stepfather was mired in dogma and I suffered a few beatings from time to time for daring to challenge his dogma with reasoned thought and intelligent argument, resulting in a profound lesson that spite, hatred violence and personal attacks are the only things socialism can respond to when their arguments are challenged and shown to be lacking in evidence and conviction.

    I eventually “escaped” as I like to put it from the pit community, alas I still have a friend who still lives in the same house he was born in, would be working down the pit his father and grandfather before him worked in (if it was still open) and whose sum knowledge of the world outside of the geography betwixt Newcastle to Scarborough is the same fortnight to the same place in Majorca once a year with his family…..thankfully I saw service in the armed forces, travelled and broadened my experience and have come out with an open mind.

    If it hadn’t been for Thatcher the council house I grew up in would never have been bought by my mother, a battle of Titan proportions she fought with my stepfather for ages as he refused on principles based on dogma whilst (ironically) his work mates bought theirs! if not for Thatcher I and my brother would never have been the beneficiaries of such hard worked for wealth when she eventually died allowing him to emigrate to Australia and me to set up in business and if wasn’t for Thatcher I’d never have had some of the experiences in my military life I was privileged to have done.

    I was fortunate enough to have met her twice whilst she was PM: and on both occasions I found her charming but strong, forceful but feminine, tenacious and genuinely interested in us (unlike Blair whom I met twice also and instantly disliked from the off due to his ‘plastic’ feel) and she seemed to be so at ease in the company of men but commanded a natural respect one could not help but feel she earned and deserved.

    She was what we would have called in the military a ‘natural leader’ someone you would have followed ‘over the top’ because she would have been the first to go herself.

    She had ‘huebos’ as they say in Mexico, more ‘huebos’ than the whole shabby lot of self centred shysters in Westminster put together and having ‘huebos’ commands respect no matter who you are.

    She is a great loss and I fear we will never see her likes again.

    My favourite quote from her is this:

    “To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.”

    You could be forgiven for thinking she’d said this just for Cameron and those of his ilk!

    You are missed Lady Thatcher, I thank you and may your faith in Christianity have brought you the rewards in heaven you never received on earth.

  6. 6 Jeremy Bridges 11/04/2013 at 10:26 am

    AM and Andy Baxter. Thank you both. Two splendid pieces of writing. Yes she freed us from socialist dogma and gave back our self respect, and a special kind of freedom. However we now have an even greater fight on our hands. The EU and its socialist agenda for Europe. In this respect, I distrust Cameron and his clan, even more than the Labour Party. Her achievements were monumental. History will judge her so. Rest in peace Margaret
    and thank you and God Bless you.


  7. 7 Flyinthesky 11/04/2013 at 11:29 am

    Some fine and heartening words here.

  8. 8 David Jones 11/04/2013 at 12:19 pm

    I lived in Japan during the 70’s and heard dreadful stories of what was happening in Britain, “the sick man of Europe”. It was embarrassing to discuss with my Japanese students how low my country had fallen. They couldn’t understand it. I could; socialism, Heath and the BBC (yes, even back then).

    And then Maggie. We were lucky to have her. But she was a one-off and Blair/Brown have dragged us down again.

    We don’t need a saviour this time; we need to take back power for ourselves. Last chance.

  9. 9 BulloPill 11/04/2013 at 2:35 pm

    I posted the few lines below on my Facebook, as a bit of an antidote to the surprising comments of some people who posted, frankly revolting remarks. I simply cannot believe how the lefty ideas and lies have become so entrenched. Mention “Free Enterprise” and near-enough everyone thinks you’re talking about a licence to rip others off.

    Those of us who remember a country on its knees during the Wilson, Heath and Callaghan years, in hock to The IMF, Trades Unions and Industrial Relations generally from the dinosaur age, a six month wait to get a phone installed, knew that a whirlwind of change direction was just about the only thing that would save us from becoming like East Germany. That whirlwind was Margaret Thatcher. Disliked, hated even, by Establishment figures and The Left, for not being one of them and not bending. But a heroine to those of us who believe in Free Enterprise, equality of opportunity and small government. I know several folks from Eastern European countries who will for ever be grateful for a woman who contributed so much to a change in their lives.

    There has been no better PM since Margaret Thatcher, and there’s unlikely to be one such anytime soon.

  10. 10 mike fowle 11/04/2013 at 7:19 pm

    Very well said, AM. I was a very junior civil servant when Maggie became PM and I was deeply resentful when she said that the civil service were not up to the job. Later I realised that she was right in that as in so much else. The outpouring of bile and hate we are seeing now is like a reverse of the Di effect – irrational and rather childish over emotion.

  11. 12 Delphius 12/04/2013 at 2:05 am

    I’ve said much the same on my blog. If you embraced change and took advantages of the opportunities her government made available, you prospered. If you stayed stuck in the past you were left behind. The UK of the 70s needed to change and she was fair enough to provide opportunities for those affected to make best use of that change.
    Compare that with governments since then: all promises and no delivery, spin and no substance. Promoting corporate greed at the expense of the small guy. I’ve yet to see a government since hers that has produced the same level of enablement, opportunity and social mobility.

  12. 13 Furor Teutonicus 12/04/2013 at 8:56 am

    I will never forgive her GOVERNMENT, for the “Agency worker”, and “short term contract” culture. But other than that; GREAT WOMAN!

  13. 14 ansel61 12/04/2013 at 9:30 am

    Thanks AM. If you think some of the bile from your English countrymen is bad you should see what it’s like being a Thatcher fan in Scotland. I’m ashamed and disgusted that Scots would dance on her grave, regardless of how they felt about her. Not being a socialist, my personal hate levels are pretty puny by comparison but I can tell you now that when Gordon Brown snuffs it (my own “hate figure”) I certainly wont celebrate his death.

  14. 15 Robert 12/04/2013 at 6:52 pm

    Thatcher became the milk snatcher when she was Education Secretary in the Heath government of the early seventies. She took away the free milk for school children in secondary schools as part of cutbacks.

    During the same period the government subsidy for milk generally was increased. I remember buying milk at 6d per pint in 1971/72 from the newsagent next to our university campus.

  15. 16 ansel61 12/04/2013 at 9:35 pm

    Tebbit said, with hindsight, that the Thatcher govenment didn’t anticipate the devastation that pit closures would have on local communities and that they should have done it differently. Strange to think, though, that had they not shut the pits then the libtards celebrating Maggie’s death in the streets would now have been clamouring to have the same mines closed because of the alleged threat to global warming from coal’s CO2. What a bunch of simpletons.

  16. 17 penseiveat 13/04/2013 at 12:36 pm

    Robert, you mentioned your university campus in your comment. Would this be the university you attended for free and received a grant for (unlike the new rules under the Blair/Brown regime)? Also, one of the reasons milk in schools was discontinued was because rationing and post war austerity had ended and milk was freely available, rather than being earmarked for the children’s health.
    ansel61, despite Thatcher being blamed for the death of the mining industry, more pits were closed under Wilson and Benn than under Thatcher, and more than 12,000 miners, my uncle included, made redundant by these pit closures (as a young boy, it was the first time I saw a grown man crying). For some reason, these facts seem to be forgotten in the Workmen’s Clubs and (Northern) council offices.

  17. 18 thespecialone 14/04/2013 at 12:57 am

    One of the best pieces you have ever written AM. I too, am from a council estate with the deprivation that went with it if you didn’t work in the 60s and 70s. By the time I was 16 I needed to get out and joined the navy. As an adult I was a conservative and loved the 80s with Maggie in charge. The current leftards in the Tory party are pretty pathetic and as for the Labour party with the likes of rich, privilieged Milliaband, Harman, Balls etc I love the lot of them.

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