Taking full advantage, as one does, of modern technology I recorded the whole broadcast of the Baroness Thatcher funeral for two reasons; I was unable to be home for the first sector, and I wished a permanent reminder of the ceremony afforded my long-time political heroine. We are not often able to claim that we lived through a defining change in the history of this Nation of ours, but with those eleven years in which she bestrode the Westminster and indeed the World stages, I reckon that it is indeed a justified claim. She was a strange mix; a scientist, a deeply religious person, heavily involved in politics from a comparatively early age; and of course the largest handicap of all, for most people who have been involved in either local or national politics: she was, obviously, a woman.
Many people danced and sang as she was slowly carried onwards to Wren’s masterpiece for a final farewell, and they expressed hatred for both the woman and her politics, and I regard them with a quiet pity, mainly because it is obvious; to myself at least, that they refuse to simply take one step back, and view her policies, politics, actions and beliefs with a dispassionate gaze.
Yes, her economic policies and ‘who governs’ approach to the stranglehold held on the British economy by the Unions generated massive antipathy, but she was supported in her endeavours by the ordinary working-class voters who saw, in her and her approach to the ‘British disease’, possibly the only saviour of a once-proud Nation slowly sinking into decay. Remember, she won three General Elections in a row after winning the Tory leadership from a moribund crew of no-hopers who had not an original idea between them.
When she was told of the invasion of the Falkland Islands by the Argentinian General’s forces, her immediate response; after ensuring that the Armed Forces were ready and available, was to order a Taskforce south to re-establish the right of the Falklanders to choose their own Government; nothing more and nothing less. The rights of that issue can be tested by viewing the results of an Island-wide Referendum held on March 10-11 this year, where the replies were an overwhelming 99.8% in favour of remaining a British Overseas Territory.
In the decade of Thatcher’s domination of British politics, she oversaw changes to many things which we, today, consider normality. Imagine a country where, if you wanted a telephone with a private line, you went on a six-month waiting list; and if you simply agreed to a ‘party’ or shared line, you maybe got a phone after three months. Imagine a country where the majority of the trucks and cars were built by a State-run organisation; and most products were so badly made that the call went out, ‘please ensure my car is made on a Wednesday’. Also imagine a car industry virtually run by its Unions, with feather-bedding rampant, quality control non-existent, management useless; and where a delivery date was routinely scheduled ‘give-or-take a month’, due to the strikes which were routinely scheduled. Imagine a shipbuilding industry where the agreement and presence of eight different types of artisans had to be arranged before a single weld, hole or bolt could be made, burnt or tightened; and where a six-week strike was called over a disagreement as to which type of artisan plucked the string of a chalk line marking a steel plate.
We have maybe lost some of the fires which were lit in the heady days of Thatcherism, but we are considerably free-er in a thousand different ways. The world is different because of Baroness Thatcher, and we should be proud of her achievements. As I have noted before, she was not perfect; with her negotiations which became the Anglo-Irish Treaty, she began the disgraceful process which resulted in murderers and their lackeys sitting in Stormont; she pushed through acceptance of the Single European Act without understanding the implications of that devious document, which resulted in the various Treaties which have removed so much of our National Sovereignty and handed to Brussels, but as a Leader, as a Conviction Politician and a Prime Minister, she was, simply, without peer!