The sight on yesterday evening’s television news of unkempt hooligans celebrating the death of an 87 year old woman prompted an immediate reaction of disgust amongst most, even those who opposed Mrs Thatcher during her time in office. On further reflection, however, it is quite probable that Margaret Thatcher would have smiled if she had known. It proved her point.
Margaret Thatcher was a rarity, a conviction politician. Whilst still in power she joked, “When I’m out of politics I’m going to run a business, it’ll be called Rent-a-Spine.”
She had no interest in being liked in order to gain power for the sake of having power. She sought to gain power in order to use it to make things right. That she made enemies was axiomatic. That she prompted loathing in the hearts of those who danced in Glasgow and Brixton last night would merely have indicated to her that she was on the right track. With enemies like those you must be doing something right.
The cavorting of the spiteful narcissists was an open demonstration of her victory then and their irrelevance today. Back in the seventies when the Militant Tendency was hugely influential in the Labour Party and the trades union movement the unreconstructed left, of which I was one, was bringing the country to its knees. Thankfully today they are pretty much confined to the Socialist Workers Party and Ken Loach films.
In the 70’s Britain’s politicians were unable even to manage decline. For those who can remember inflation of 24.2%, daily audit by the IMF, three day working weeks, the dead lying unburied, and power cuts a regular occurrence the irresponsible far left will always be anathema. The role of the prime minister of “the sick man of Europe” appeared to be limited to hosting “beer and sandwiches” for union leaders whenever they appeared at No 10 to tell the PM what he had to give them not to go on strike.
Many of us lament the decline of British manufacturing industry, we should remember that it was destroyed by incompetent management, lack of investment and undemocratic unions. Margaret Thatcher would have been unable to do what she did without the active aid of Arthur Scargill, Derek Robinson and other long discarded Luddite union bosses. She famously said, “If you want to cut your own throat don’t come to me for a bandage.” They cut their own throat.
The far left and the chattering classes hate her, not because she broke the glass ceiling but because she broke the class ceiling. She was provincial lower middle class, and thankful that she was neither a Tory grandee or pretentious intellectual. She won three elections with clear majorities, something which would be impossible without the backing of a majority of working class voters. For this the left will never forgive her. She was able to connect with working people in a way which is beyond the abilities of the bien-pensant commentariat. This is why she is hated by the intellectual elites and other lefties nostalgic for chaos, as well as the wets in the Conservative Party.
Although the first woman to lead a major political party in Britain and the first woman prime minister Margaret Thatcher is loathed by feminists. Mainly because she ignored them and in doing so demonstrated their redundancy. As she remarked “I owe nothing to women’s lib.”
She became the first PM with a science degree, something she thought as significant as being first woman PM. At university she didn’t do ‘gender studies’ or some other traditionally feminine soft science, but the hard science chemistry when this was still rare, and became a working research chemist in industry. Later she became a lawyer, an MP and eventually a major political figure, all without the help of quotas, affirmative action, special interest groups or the feminist establishment. Margaret Thatcher actually believed in and practised equality, that a woman could do any job in industry or politics, and she proved it.
Just as that other conservative Dr Martin Luther King Jnr believed in a society in which skin colour did not matter, unlike today’s race relations industry; so Margaret Thatcher believed in a society in which a person’s sex did not matter but rather their ability, unlike today’s feminists. She would have felt insulted by special pleading.
It was not just structures which Margaret Thatcher challenged, it was attitudes, she despised a view of life which demanded that others bear the responsibility when the individual was able to bear it him or her self. As she famously remarked “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” This was based on her Methodist upbringing with a strong Protestant work ethic and acceptance of personal responsibility. In the early 30’s at a prize giving in a Grantham primary school the lady presenting the prizes remarked to one winner “You are lucky.” “I’m not lucky”, replied the eight year old Margaret Roberts, “I deserve this.”
Years later in her ‘Sermon on the Mound’ to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1988 she said, ‘we must not profess the Christian faith and go to Church simply because we want social reforms and benefits or a better standard of behaviour; but because we accept the sanctity of life, the responsibility that comes with freedom and the supreme sacrifice of Christ’.
Margaret Thatcher saw the Christian faith has implications beyond the distribution of charity but that it is, “difficult to imagine that anything other than Christianity is likely to resupply most people in the West with the virtues necessary to remoralise society in the very practical ways which the solution of many present problems require.” The outworking of Christianity is more than providing help for those hit by the misfortunes of life, it is about the creation of a society in which men and women are free to become the people God created them to be.
The principal lesson of her life is that the ordinary is extraordinary. The world is not made by the great and the good. Rather it is made by ordinary folk striving to be better.
The day after her resignation the hard-left Labour MP Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover and an honest man, loudly said in the House of Commons, “You can wipe the floor with this lot, Margaret,” referring to those who would succeed her in both parties. He was right.