Why we remember Margaret Thatcher

To be the first woman Prime Minister would be achievement enough for many women, but not for Margaret. She didn’t just want to hold the office, but to use it to improve and change the country she loved.

She won three elections, a rare achievement in modern UK democratic politics. Even rarer that she won a larger majority on the second and third occasions than on the first, showing that she could win and hold support in office for what she did as well as from opposition for what she promised.

These are good reasons to remember her, but not the main reason why the nation has never stopped talking about her from the day she first won office at Number 10. The country senses that she was a different kind of politician to many that have followed since. She did not ask how something would play in the polls, or how something should be spun. She wanted to know what was the problem and did your idea offer a solution. Would it make things better for people, even if it might make it tougher for the government in short term. Only once the policy had been settled did she invite in press and media specialists to deal with the second order question of how could you best persuade people that the decision was right.

I first took the idea of equity for everyone to her in opposition. I told how how she could offer shares and property for the many, from a large privatisaiton programme. It could include employee ownership and employee buy outs, as well as the big show privatisations. After a lively argument at one of her issue lunches she told me “They won’t let me do that”. It was a very revealing answer. She was all too conscious of the power of the state establishment, and of the dangers of sounding too radical, but she did not rule it out for later.

Some of us built the case through think tanks and the press during her first Parliament as Prime Minister. After the 1983 election victory she was ready to take on one of the big battles of her Premiership, the battle to return the family silver to the family, the battle to let many more people participate in the wealth of the nation through share and property owning. I was invited in to Downing Street and recommended setting up the first large privatisation programme. The memo came back with no objections to the strategic sweep of the policy, nor to its aims. It had instead the question “how do we do that?

She threw herself into understanding the challenges and techniques needed to transform loss making job shedding state monopolies into modern competitive industries. It became one of the dominant themes of her period in office.

Her energy and determination was such that she still had plenty of time to help an American President win the Cold war, to offer freedom and enterprise to the long suffering victims of communism in Eastern Europe, to begin the opposition to the Euro and a centralised EU, and to negotiate a free enterprise future for Hong Kong at the end of its lease.

She inherited a strike ridden and poor country with high inflation and too much debt. She passed on a country of good repute, She showed courage, dignity and honesty in equal measure as she sought to slay the dragons that she felt had damaged Britain.

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88 Comments

  1. Barry Sheridan
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    RIP Baroness Thatcher. Britain owes you more than it will ever concede.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.
      It was sad to see Lady Thatchers decline, both phsically and mentally, in recent years: may she find peace now.

      I do hope the hard left allow Baroness Thatcher’s funeral to go off without any political protests….Let’s hope for once they show some decurum and grace.

      If Mr Cameron was half the PM our Maggie was, then he’d be twice the PM he is now.

      RIP Maggie. XXX

      • ChrisS
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Hear, Hear but all current politicians are mere pygmies by comparison to Mrs Thatcher.

        If Mr Cameron was even one tenth of the PM Mrs Thatcher was, he would be twice the PM he is now.

        We have lost our greatest post war politician.

        • ChrisS
          Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Sorry John

          I would exempt yourself, Dan Hannan and very few others from my criticism.

          • APL
            Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            ChrisS: “I would exempt yourself, Dan Hannan and very few others from my criticism.”

            There you have the quantity of actual conservatives in the Tory party. It’s what we used to laugh at the Liberals – you could get the whole parliamentary party in the back of a London Cab.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

      I cannot listen to any more of the absurd BBC slant and back handed complements from all the bitter lefties. Perhaps even worse is listening to people, like John Major, who did so much to destroy her legacy paying tributes.

      Then we have Cameron saying:- “She did not just lead out country she saved our country”. If he thinks that why is his government doing the exact opposite what is needed and what she would have done? Still I suppose it gives him an excuse to cut short his EU, heart and sole, re-negotiation pretense.

      • Disaffected
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree with JR’s comments, and yours Lifelogic. A fantastic woman who had the country’s interest at heart first and foremost. What a loss to her family and country.

        Cranmer’s blog equally compelling to read: her politics had a foundation in the Christian faith, family etc. Who knows what Cameron stands for? And what right minded person would believe him on his track record?

  2. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Very sad news. It has always annoyed me how Labour parrots repeat their little ‘no such thing as society’ phrase. They took it completely out of context. If you read the full text of the interview with Women’s Own, during which that phrase was used, it is clear she was a througly decent and compassionate woman. She almost sounds like a saint at times.

    And, of course, she was a great leader. Today is a sad day. No chance of her coming to our rescue again now.

    May she rest in peace.

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    At present I am listening to all the tributes and all agree that she had presence, courage and changed politics.
    No one really knows anyone until they have been close and then, well?
    You probably feel emotional about this death and in some way mourn the passing of your boss.
    As far as feminism is concerned ..she certainly stands high in my estimation.
    I would be interested to know your views on the EU when other members of the T Party disagreed with her views.

    Reply I was urging her to a more Eurosceptic position, in a party in those days that had many more EEC supporters in it.EU matters used to be divisive in the Conservative party, but not anymore now we are a Eurosceptic party.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      “in a party in those days that had many more EEC supporters in it”

      JR The party now has very, very many EU supporters now, and is led by a “heart and sole” EU supporter in his actions. Anyway the party is clearly gone in two years time.

    • zorro
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      John, you need more than 100 votes in Parliament to be able to say that convincingly…..

      zorro

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Indeed just 100 who are not, toe the line, pathetic, career politicians is rather sad. What chance has the country got? It will surely be subsumed into the non democratic, bank deposit stealing EU with appalling consequences.

  4. Monty
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    To remember the full scope of her achievements in any sphere, it helps to recall the state we were in pre-Thatcher, with the progress and radical improvements she pushed through. And just to take a single example- telecommunications. I remember the pre-Thatcher British Telecomms dinosaur that made customers join a waiting to get a landline ‘phone installed, and even then it would be shared with another subscriber.
    She was so very good at demolishing roadblocks, so that innovative people could bring their bright new ideas to fruition.

  5. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    One of our greatest Prime Ministers. She backed the people and trusted them. The country has missed her greatly in so many ways. When you compare her to todays politiacl leaders you can see just how good she was. She told people the truth and they did not like it.

  6. Cheshire girl
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I was so sorry to hear the sad news today. I was a great fan of Margaret Thatcher from the time she first became Prime Minister. In fact I wrote and told her so! Her PPS replied to that letter thanking me for my kind comments.

    I always felt that the country, with all it’s troubles, was in safe hands when she has in charge. I so admired her courage and conviction. As has been said, she didn’t just make policy that would have gained her some votes, but did what she felt was right for this country. I will be very surprised if we ever see her like again. It’s a sad day for her family and for the United Kingdom.

  7. Peter Stroud
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    As a Tory supporter I welcomed Mrs Thatcher’s entering Number 10. I found little to criticise for most of her tenure. However, I thought, at the time, she had gone too far with privatisation. Now I realise I was wrong and she could have gone further. I still think the poll tax was a great mistake, that did her and the party great damage, for some time. However, her legacy is far greater than any other PM since, regardless of party.

    • APL
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Peter Stroud: “I still think the poll tax was a great mistake, that did her and the party great damage, for some time.”

      I disagree, the problem with the poll tax was it didn’t go far enough. As implemented it tried to supplement the local authority income stream by casting the LA income net wider.

      What the poll tax should have done was invert the funding model of government entirely. More tax raised locally – including cuts to income tax, with grants being paid to central government for certain prescribed functions. Instead of the current model where most of the money is raised through central taxes and grants are paid out from Central government to the LAs mostly to do things the central government tells the LA to do.

      Of course with hindsight that was politically impossible with all the looney Labour town halls.

      • Bert Young
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        Quite agree .

  8. backofanenvelope
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I reached voting age in 1954. Before Margaret Thatcher we had a long line of incompetent male plonkers. After her we had more of them.

    She was an aberration as well as a great Prime Minister.

  9. Yaroslav Kozak
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I write to you from Ukraine. I have always been a great admirer of hers and now this news… I wrote a little modest poem to express what I feel about this most inspirational figure. I want only to share my feelings and cannot imagine a better place than this wonderful blog which I follow quite closely and where visitors will surely understand what I am feeling. Sorry for my English and poor quality of the poem unworthy of this great woman.

    The clock is ticking. It knows of no remorse.
    They say a story has its proper course
    And every start should meet its end one day
    And what must come must come they say.

    They say it’s vain to fight against the fate,
    But it is this that makes a person great
    For in this fight the history is born.
    One fight has come to end. I mourn.

    I’m mourning for the lady who like Sun
    Was radiant with passion, who has won
    Her every single fight she wished to win.
    And never did she turn, nor did she spin.

    But Time is ruthless. Such was it for her.
    And through the din of tributes that recur,
    Through tears, so well-rehearsed and planned,
    Obituaries written beforehand,

    Through hatred, undeserved and unreserved,
    Through sorrow of the country that she served,
    Through bitter grief of those who liked her right,
    Through all of this, I swear, I see the light.

    This light of hers, this power of her soul
    She leaves to us amid the sombre toll.
    And if we make her causes last and thrive,
    Then we will know that Thatcher is alive.

    • zorro
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Nothing wrong with your English – very good tribute.

      zorro

    • stred
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      What a moving poem from Mr Kozak. The end to dictatorship seems to be better appreciated from behind the ex-Iron Curtain than in the West, where many communists are still in influencial positions and are working to bring it through the back door. Similarly, in Ukraine, some ex communist mafias are up to their old tricks.

      JR. How about organising contributions and having this poem put on a plaque and offered to Mrs T’s family?

    • Bert Young
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful ! A superb example to everyone aspiring to learn English .

  10. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Winston Churchill in the 1940s; Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s; dare we hope that another political giant emerges in the 2020s?

  11. David Price
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Inevitable but sad news. My condolences to her family and those that knew her, may she rest in peace.

    I started work in the late 70s during the winter of discontent. Maggie literally rescued this country from the disaster of the previous administration and got the country back on its feet.

    Todays political heads should reflect on what made Maggie such a successful, respected and trusted leader, they should reflect on why they are little more administrators and certainly not seen as leaders.

  12. lifelogic
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Indeed very sad news indeed she was a superb leader. This mainly because, unlike all the prime ministers since, she had a working compass. She also achieved it all without the absurd, anti male, discrimination laws proposed the pathetic politicians of the left in “Harriet Harmon think” mode. Clearly they have so little confidence in woman’s abilities on a level playing field.

    She made some mistakes too, mainly signing the Single European Act, allowing John Major to take us into the absurd ERM and letting him become PM and then destroy the parties reputation for three + terms. Also not seeing that a pole tax, as pushed by Keith Joseph, was never going to be a good plan politically. This was always obvious to most people.

    Reply: The Poll tax was proposed by Ken Baker and William Waldegrave,not Keith

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      I thought that I had once read that the poll tax was developed following an initial idea from Keith Joseph, but I am glad to hear that it was not. This as Keith seemed to be so sound on most other matters. It was always going to be a political disaster as anyone sensible could see after 30 second thought, just as giving the Libdems equal TV billing and ratting on IHT on the “Cast Iron Guarantee”, were totally mad, both politically and in principal.

    • JimF
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Her roots were as a scientist, remember. Perhaps had she first studied PPE instead of Chemistry a different person would have emerged, honed in the arts of political expediency and PR, instead of cool headed logical analysis, following an argument through without worrying about trying something which never worked before, according to the political theorists. She had allies of course, in the likes of Whitelaw and Tebbit, who were neither cow-towing to so-called human rights and political correctness. That sadly came later, in front of the glazed eyes and limited intellect of Major.

  13. ITF Tory
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    She was the greatest PM we ever had. Despite what a lot of the vitriol and lies said about her, she was one of the most popular PMs ever, too. Consider the number of votes the Conservatives got with her as leader:
    1979 – 13.7m
    1983 – 13.0m
    1987 – 13.8m
    Now compare with Labour and Tony Blair as leader:
    1997 – 13.5m
    2001 – 10.7m
    2005 – 9.6m

    She was far more popular than Blair. The numbers speak for themselves. And don’t forget, she consistently won elections through the votes of the working classes.

    And even after she had departed, the country was in such a good state that the Conservatives (under John Major) got the most votes any political party has ever received in this country, at 14.1m.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Indeed you could really say she won four elections but one with Major as her replacement leader (before people had worked out what a socialist, pro EU incompetent he actually was). That way Major won, not a single one (not under his own colours anyway). Then he duly buried the party for three and a half terms. This by killing the Tory parties reputation for (relative) economic competence.

      An apology is still, even now, awaited for the pointless damage he and the ERM did to peoples lives, jobs, homes, suicides ……. has the man no sense of honour at all as he now pays tribute to her?

      • APL
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        lifelogic: “An apology is still, even now, awaited for the pointless damage he and the ERM did to peoples lives, jobs, homes, suicides”

        It will not be forthcoming. There are many prominent ‘members of the Conservative’ party who are there solely to discredit and destroy the party.

    • peter davies
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      And not forgetting there are quite a few more voters now than there were then

  14. Robert Taggart
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    MHT – the only peace time British Prime Minister with the balls to face down the ‘enemy within’.
    Her finest hour – 03/03/’85 – the day (strikers-ed) went back to work with their tails between their legs ! Never to be noticed again.

    reply The defeat of the miners strike was seen by Margaret herself as essential to show that the Uk could be governed by elected politicians. It also left a bitterness in some communities which was not what some of us wanted, but the strike was seen as a trial of strength by both the Scargillites and by the PM.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Interesting edit Johnny !

    • Jon
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      I have a view that Scargill forced the earlier closure of many pits than would have been planned initially but don’t know.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      And Cameron pathetic legacy will be to give us Ed Miliband in two years time and put the country even more under the control of the state sector unions.

  15. colliemum
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your tribute, John – especially the last paragraph.

    Too many have forgotten the years under Labour, the taxes, the strikes, the mountains of rubbish in the streets, begging the IMF to help.
    Too many on the left fixate on just two things, the miners’ strike and the Poll Tax.

    Too many have plain forgotten the days in the early 1980s when we lived under the threat of nuclear war, when so many thought giving up our defence was a good option.
    Too many have plain forgotten how this country worked its way back into prosperity, into a property-owning democracy.
    Instead we get the snide remarks from the left who blame the bank crashes on her and not on the Chancellor who did more to facilitate this than anybody else, Gordon Brown.

    It is a sad day for our country when even the Labour leader has to admonish his party members to show some respect to Margaret Thatcher, who truly was one of the greatest.

    Amongst the many tributes paid to Margaret Thatcher, I found this one the most moving and most beautiful:
    http://www.archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/margaret-thatcher-has-died-and-passed.html

  16. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Hear hear, Mr Redwood.

    I am saddened.

    For all my criticism of the Tory party I always held Margaret Thatcher in the highest regard and derive great pleasure from the fact that – despite their claims to equality – none of the other parties have come close to delivering us a female Prime Minister. I voted for her whenever I could.

    We need our Thatcher moment again this day.

    I am not looking forward to the unrestrained glee that the Left will exhibit (they have no right to claim to be the nicer of the political persuasions) and am going to find it a struggle to get through this evening’s Branch meeting without getting into a punch up. In fact I may cry off altogether.

    RIP Mrs T. And my commiserations to those who knew her well and who will be mourning at this time.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      I did not get into a punch up at the Branch meeting. Due respect was given, I am pleased to report.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Well, not all of the privatisations were successful – personally I think it is rather pointless to privatise a business which is, and is very likely to remain, intrinsically loss-making and therefore only able to survive through continuing state subsidies – and while the concept of wider share ownership was and is a very commendable idea most of the shares in the privatised companies have since migrated into the hands of either institutional investors or foreign companies. Once again it is only my view, but I think that despite management charges most small investors are better off diversifying through unit or investment trusts rather than directly holding the shares of just a few companies.

    • outsider
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      You make some fair points, Denis Cooper. Mr Redwood should be congratulated for one of the great political ideas of the 1980s : a share-owning democracy to complement a property-owning democracy. Margaret Thatcher backed it because it combined political and fiscal common sense. But you are right that it all turned sour.

      First, the Treasury typically fattened up a monopoly before selling it to the public and then changed the rules with tough prices controls and competition biased against the incumbents. Often, the public were sold a pup.
      The same is even happening again with Royal Mail.

      Second, the Treasury, the media and the City turned privatisation into a machine for generating short-term windfalls instead of millions owning a continuing stake in the utilities they had to use, getting rid of the us and them anti-business bias. This culminated in the electricity privatisations that had started with us all owning them and ending with none of us owning them as they were split into tiny units then parceled up and sold to foreign groups and investors.

      The whole process became cynical instead of idealistic and wider share ownership shrank right back again, partly because the City makes much more money by selling us packaged investments with high fees.

      So great idea, poor legacy (though still better than keeping them in the public sector).

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Well, I admit to being somewhat cynical because knowing that they were being offered at a discount I bought the shares and sold them on for the quick profit rather than continuing to hold them. But that didn’t affect the capital available to the companies, it was simply a change of ownership of the shares which involved a small transfer of wealth from the new owners to myself; and in fact I always did the same with shares I got through my employer’s two schemes because I thought it unwise to keep too many of my eggs in one basket.

      • Mark
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        I don’t take quite so jaded a view. The major privatisations were priced and allocated to allow a spread of wealth. I can’t think of any that didn’t allow sale of the shares at a profit. Telecoms and energy resulted in falling real prices and improved services, and rail services improved too even if they were no cheaper.

        Rail did suffer from the consequences of its increased popularity – with inadequate effort on track maintenance, and Railtrack was essentially renationalised without shareholder compensation by Byers without tackling the real problems adequately.

        The problems we tend to perceive now are largely the consequence of the actions of the Labour governments and of the EU. So we now have expensive energy, expensive water, and expensive telecoms. The original idea was right, and was working well in most cases before others disrupted it.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Privatisation of energy retailing looks to have been done poorly .

      Whenever a leaflet comes through the door , an advert appears on TV or an energy company sponsors a sporting event we should be reminded that around 15% of our energy bill goes on advertising costs .

      In America almost every consumer and business user users the standard tariff . Here we have a multitude of them .

      All the privatisations were floated at massive discounts yet the City institutions which underwrote the issues charged percentage commissions which would have been more appropriate for an IPO of a start up .

      That the proceeds from the right to buy scheme were prevented from being reinvested in social housing was pure political dogma .

      So many of those houses found their way into private landlords hands very quickly . I doubt Mrs Thatcher could foresee that that would be the result .

      You can only flog off the family silver once and the proceeds were not invested .

      • Mark
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Of course Mrs Thatcher could not have foreseen the BTL boom. It didn’t even begin until well after she had left power. It was fuelled by Labour’s property boom. There were just 2 million private rented dwellings in 1991 (down from 3.75 million in 1971), and still only under 2.4 million in 2000. By 2011 that had expanded to 4.7 million.

        That was funded by property pyramids built on easy cheap money and high LTVs for BTL investors, with support for rents coming from generous Housing Benefit subsidies. Less savvy borrowers mortgaged up to fund expensive cars and holidays – consumption goods – and found they had to sell up when interest rates rose.

  18. SteveS
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    The phrase ‘conviction politician’ can always be translated as ‘honest politician’. Margaret Thatcher was brutally honest. She was a leader those that have followed have merely been merely ‘frontmen’ for political ‘brands’. I am afraid that one of the reasons Mr Cameron is not leading a majority government is that he does not have a similar appeal of ‘honesty’ to the white van man voters who consistently voted Conservative for Mrs Thatcher.

    I believe her mistake was to fail to in some ways means test the Community Charge to limit some of the perceived unfairness in what was in essence a very fair means of assessing local taxation payments. Had that mistake not been made, I strongly believe that a fourth and fifth term would not have been beyond the Iron Lady and the UK and Europe would have been a very different place now without the signing of Maastricht.

    In the end, on most things, Mrs Thatcher was right. There will never be another.

    RIP

  19. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/04/out-to-the-undiscovered-ends-a-few-first-thoughts-on-the-death-of-lady-thatcher.html

    I doubt very much that it could be put better than this.

    I was moved to tears on reading it.

  20. GeoffM
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    John
    It must have been a great experience for you to work with such a tireless and inspirational leader, no doubt you had your arguments but you helped her to achieve so much for the country what an honour for you.
    There are a great many in the land who have shed a tear today for the greatest PM since Win Churchill.
    At a sad time as this I feel for the future of UK and I hope to God I’m wrong.

  21. Tad Davison
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Baroness Thatcher will leave many legacies, the greater number of which, were very popular, as was born out by three consecutive election victories.

    Any football manager will tell you that one never changes a winning team, certainly not its winning game-plan that is popular with the public, but in 1990, that happened with the Tory party, when the pro-EU, left-wing stabbed Margaret Thatcher in the back and replaced a winning leader, with one of their own, in keeping with the worst traditions of the EU they wanted to draw us ever-closer to.

    It took a while for the public to catch on, that under the new leader, the Conservative party had shifted to an EU-centric position. Initially, he seemed to represent a continuation of the policies Margaret Thatcher had espoused to popular acclaim. He ‘had a good (1st Gulf) war’ by the contemporary media reports of the time, and that ensured he won the 1992 General Election, but how his premiership unravelled when the public finally twigged what he really stood for!

    By 1997, under his ‘leadership’, the Tory party was a spent force, and suffered the most resounding defeat in modern history, and at the time of writing, they haven’t won outright in some twenty-one years!

    So what is that telling us, and what lessons can they learn from it?

    I have been banging on about a return to core Conservative values for as long as I can remember, yet there’s been a constant and seemingly inexorable drift away from them, to the benefit of an relatively new and emergent party of whom it is said, now stands alone as the voice of modern Conservatism in Britain today. And if the Tories cannot see the strength of Margaret Thatcher’s arguments, and get back onto the same wavelength as mainstream man, they deserve the political oblivion that beckons them, for they cannot forever continue to seem like one thing, but do another.

    So I will remember Baroness Thatcher, for changing this nation for the better, and rolling back the interference of the great socialist state machine that had come to dominate everything, and shackle the British people. That is her bequest to us. May she now find eternal peace, but may Britain change course, and once again be master of its own destiny in her memory, in her spirit, and in her honour.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  22. forthurst
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Being PM is obviously a difficult job requiring a mix of human qualities normally not gifted to one mortal, which is a good reason why Margaret Thatcher has been the only one in my lifetime to have left the country in a better condition than she found it.
    If some of her legacy has not achieved the most optimistic expections for it, this is entirely due to the failures of later PMs to make the necessary adjustments to course and sail when their need became apparent, because they lacked the patriotic intent, the will, the intellect.

  23. Bazman
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    The views on Margret Hilda Thatcher by most people are based on how old you are, where you live and what you do, or in many cases used to do for a living. Lets not forget for the few that benefited from her economic policies, millions particularly in the North suffered and are still suffering economic degradation and it’s effects.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Bazza I do not know what part of the “North” you are talking about, but the regeneration of my native Tyneside did not really take off until Mrs Thatcher took office. I am not just talking about making Newcastle a nicer place to live in, but also bringing in nicer jobs like working in Nissan rather than in coal mine. She really was an inspiration to those of us who were brought up with the Labour establishment and their agents in the schools, for example, telling us never to get out of our holes and do as your told as we know what is best for you (despite the fact that we will live a lifestyle completely different to yours, if we can keep ourselves out of jail like those who got caught up by John Polson).

      If you want to have a go, think about instead the malign outcomes of her policies that still exist today, like GCSEs (10 free in every box of rice crispies) and putting the unemployed on long term disability benefits so making them think that they never need work again

      • forthurst
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        “If you want to have a go, think about instead the malign outcomes of her policies that still exist today, like GCSEs (10 free in every box of rice crispies) and putting the unemployed on long term disability benefits so making them think that they never need work again”

        I’m petty certain it was John Major who encouraged the unemployed to claim sickness benefit. As to the GCSE exam, that was a mistake as was further comprehensivisation, but then the consequences of policies cannot always be predicted with certitude which is why they are not engraved on stone tablets, unless of course they relate to the putative thoughtcrimes of the English.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        How many got a job in Nissan Nina? This is a very political question. High wages, great working conditions. Canteen? Same as the directors since you ask. Trump card in the North East. Ram it.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Those in the North lived (and still live) an eviable lifestyle to those of us who lived it the South. I should know. I’m half Geordie with relatives in Newcastle.

      How secure they are in their indentity, their football team, and their nights out on ‘The Toon’.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        Affordable housing and (yet) unaffected by mass immigration.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          In some cases, “hideously white” according to the sick minds at the BBC.

  24. frank salmon
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I hope the BBC are proud that they hid a pro Thatcher drama they had made for years before they let it hit screen. I also hope they are proud of their most recent Thatcher broadcast on Radio 5. When letters were opened under the 30 yer rule they broadcast repeatedly that Thatcher was in communication with Jimmy Saville and sought to tar her through that relationship. Someone saw sense at midday and they dropped the offending article. But I have not forgotten it.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      The BBC attempting to tar Margaret Thatcher by association with their poster boy, fancy that.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        Not only that the BBC (and the lefty non funny comedians) even had a go at poor Carol Thatcher some time ago.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          Being on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Hardly makes for a poor shy non publicity seeking person who was targeted does it? Your posts just get more deluded.

  25. oldtimer
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    The measure of her achievements is to compare the state of the nation when she left office with the state it was in when she entered office. Privatisation, TU reform, increased home ownership, significant tax reforms and the conquest of runaway inflation count among the major changes achieved that I can immediately think of.

    For many the cost of change was high, but there is no doubt that the UK economy was a basket case when she became PM. The road to the return to a functioning enterprise economy was extremely rocky but entirely necessary.

    It was a remarkable Premiership.

  26. Iain Gill
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I remember her comment after winning one election “lets not forget the inner cities” which I took to mean “lets not forget the inner cities, the sink estates, the sink schools they get, the sink GP practises they get, and so on” Was exactly the right thing to say, reaching out to a part of the electorate that was written off by the Conservatives.

    Sadly not enough followed on in delivery from this statement of strategic intent. If there had been more radical action there we would be in a much better place today.

  27. Martyn G
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I have a fond and lasting memory of meeting Maggie in 1992 when stationed on Ascension Island as OC RAF Communications Flight. She and other VIP had been down to the Falkland Islands to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that war and were stopping off at Ascension Island en route to the UK. We were arranged in mixed groups of people awaiting her in the Officer’s Mess and in my group I had some senior St Helena’s people, the USAF Wideawake airfield base commander and some of my RAF people.

    Maggie swept into the Mess looking as though she had just stepped out of a boutique, instead of after 8+ hours shut inside an aged RAF Tristar radiating – there is no other apt word for it – radiating an aura of authority and presence. It was most striking that she of all the others with her had presence. Dennis approached me and asked if it was possible to have a cold beer. I liked that and of course got him a beer.

    Maggie then joined us and after introductions asked about how Ascension Island had progressed since the 1982 war and I and others were able to tell her about how it was in that present day. At one point she said to me ‘do you know, early on in the build up to war the Americans told me that we could not increase the number of aircraft movements through ‘their’ airfield?” She said “so I called Ronnie and said it is our island and we will fly as many aircraft on and off it as we want”. The USAF base commanders’ face was a picture.

    I called over our RAF photographer and asked Maggie if she would mind having her photo taken with us and in shuffling people around to arrange the grouping she said to me “you are trying to organise me, aren’t you?” “Yes ma’am” said I and she smiled and stood where I thought the arrangement would be best for all. I treasure the pictures taken that day. May the great and grand lady rest in peace and I feel honoured to have met and talked with her so closely all those years ago on Ascension Island.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think anyone would have minded if you’d given your full name, Martyn. But I appreciate your modesty very much.

  28. Jon
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    The most significant UK leader in my lifetime to date. Many may not remember how low the opposition and the unions had made the nation feel about themselves and about the country. She brought back that pride to being British that was so under attack (and again in the last administration).

    She was as prominent in world politics as Reagan and Britain was a leader when this woman led from the front. Not all was great but she is in history as one of our great leaders. I am grateful for how she stood up to the unions in the early years.

    I am also grateful for having lived during that historic leadership that was ground breaking. It was not benign and not a whimper, not a leader to govern by leaked memo’s or committee so I say thank you Lady Thatcher and rest in good peace.

  29. ChrisXP
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    We can but hope that her strong spirit may yet stand watch over the country, as we battle with today’s difficulties.

  30. wab
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    “Even rarer that she won a larger majority on the second and third occasions than on the first, showing that she could win and hold support in office for what she did as well as from opposition for what she promised.”

    A lot of the second victory was down to the Falklands war. And a lot of the third victory was down to the economic boom fuelled by government policy which then turned sour a few years later (and indeed still has repercussions today, although the Blair/Brown government is more to blame for that than the Thatcher/Lawson one).

    “She did not ask how something would play in the polls, or how something should be spun.”

    She didn’t mind using Saatchi and Saatchi. She didn’t mind changing her accent. You could argue that her government was the first one in the UK which professionalised government spin.

    “The battle to return the family silver to the family”.

    It was returned to the rich (or, the “middle class”, as the rich are known in the UK). And all the privatisations ended up under-pricing the assets. (Although Brown selling off the gold was a far worse act.)

    The rail privatisation was one of the worst. The energy ones were not much better. Energy supply is a natural de facto monopoly (energy production is not). (Thatcher was not stupid enough to suggest providing two gas pipes to every house or two electricity supplies.) As such, there is nothing companies can do to compete except to cut corners with customer support, and to try and rip customers off with misleading sales techniques, as we have seen has happened over and over again.

    “She threw herself into understanding the challenges and techniques needed to transform loss making job shedding state monopolies into modern competitive industries.”

    Most of them were not transformed into “modern competitive industries”, they were closed down. (Which is not to say that they shouldn’t have been closed down but there is no point trying to spin the story.)

    Mr Redwood also conveniently forgets to mention the Single European Act. Presumably Mr Redwood, if he removed his party political hat for a few minutes, would consider that to be the greatest post-war treachery by any UK leader/party.

    Reply Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon transferred far more power than the SEA. I urged her not to surrender the vetoes in the SEA, but she was persuaded otherwise.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      “The rail privatisation was one of the worst.” John Major.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Well this makes me feel a little less sentimental.

    • Mark
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      There is nothing particularly unusual about having competitive energy supply. Your motor fuel has probably been transported by pipeline, and commingled with fuel belonging to several different companies: much the same probably happened to the crude oil from which it was refined. The same happens with gas, and with electrons transferring electricity. Physical balance accounting handles this well.

      Try looking at the pro-forma accounts of the Big 6 linked here:

      http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/Documents1/Reporting%202011%20Results%20Overview%20text.pdf

      You will find some interesting differences in the costs of supply and the average prices charged (and a £693m mark to market forward derivatives loss – a supplier to avoid?). Now imagine the effect of rather more competition to secure supplies at lower cost and be in position to take advantage of tighter supply conditions.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Wab , I’d argue that Blairs sale of BNFL Westinghouse trumps the Brown Bottom gold sale .

      “The battle to return the family silver to the family”.

      John , I remember you using that phrase in this blog a couple of years ago when proposing a national asset sale . Comes across as spinning .

      Under wheels set in motion during that era the full force of the financial sector has been unleashed against the people .

      Vocational pensions schemes have been closed down so that the money which would have been saved has been redirected to interest on mortgages on overpriced houses . We are essentially all working for the banks and rentiers now .

      In 20 years time we are going to see the inevitable conclusion of a policy which was the right thing for the time but not for the longer term – people who are now 50 retiring with nothing like enough savings .

  31. AJAX
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Her administrations were effective tactically for the nation but strategically indifferent.

    The political revolution of the destruction of the power of the undemocratic Trade Union barons, the demolition of the rump of Socialism in Westminster, the restoration of Capitalism to industry by the removal of the State from large-scale interference in its activities, the military defeats of Argentina and IRA Fenianism, & the forging of a fight- back national political spirit to arrest & try to reverse the damage of the devastating assaults on England’s strength by Deutschland & the USA in the 20th Century, were all important successes.

    The decision to accept the Monetarist theory as the answer to England’s economic decline, the continuance of England’s submergence into the EU and the failure to arrest mass migration from poor areas of the globe into this country, were all strategic mistakes or work left undone.

    • Mark
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      It may surprise you to learn that between 1979 and 1990, net migration averaged 2,000 per year (26,000 in total over the whole period), with net emigration of 500,000 British, and net immigration of 526,000 non-British in total, of which just 71,000 were from other EU countries in a smaller EU (15 countries). Moreover, since in those days we still had something like proper border controls, there aren’t large numbers of missing immigrants not in the figures. On average we admitted just 35,000 students a year, and 28,000 students a year emigrated – so most students went home at the end of their courses, and moreover were genuine students.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        There was a policy of “would-be zero” immigration coupled with the active promotion of family planning.

        If those policies had been maintained then probably the population would have stabilised and then started to gradually decline, but instead the policy of “would-be zero” immigration was replaced by a policy of maximising immigration under all available pretexts, and even with declarations that the UK should be regarded as “a country of immigration”, actively seeking to increase its population by attracting people from abroad.

  32. Monty
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    We should not forget that she swept into power on the back of significant electoral support from traditional Labour voters who were just totally fed up with the wrecking antics of the left, and who recognised the need for the common sense reforms that she brought in. People looked at the strikes, the flying pickets, the rubbish piling up in the streets, the leapfrogging pay claims, the produce of our own industries that no-one wanted to buy because it was second rate, and they voted for sobriety. What she achieved, in the space of ten years, was breathtaking.

  33. peter davies
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Whatever political colours our party leaders wear, she is the one benchmark they all look up to and no one has got close since.

    Its important to remember the UK was on its knees when she took over, unions ran the show (partially funded by the Kremlin no doubt) during the height of the cold war so she was just the right type of leader for the problems the UK faced at the time.

    Someone who did what needed to be done as you said and who didn’t follow focus groups and public opinion in the Blair way – boy could we do with a steely PM right now! This may sound contraversial but I always felt Blair chose his Iraq adventure knowing full well the Falklands conflict raised her stature in office which he wanted to emulate himself – no proof just a hunch.

    Even though she signed the SEA she did win rebates from the EU (only for future PMs to give them away again)…….

    Despite a few mistakes the UK owes her a lot – RIP X

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      But the value of the rebates was and is insignificant compared to the damage done by the SEA she pushed for, which by allowing the UK government to be outvoted on decisions will continue to undermine our democratic self-government for as long as we remain in the EU.

      She should have put it to a referendum, because it destroyed the basis on which the people had consented to stay in the EEC in 1975.

      As stated in the government’s official pamphlet delivered to all households, urging a “yes” vote in that referendum:

      http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

      “The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

      Which was not entirely true then, as inter alia the annual EEC budget was already decided by majority voting under the 1957 Treaty of Rome, and is rarely true now thanks to the surrender of vetoes through subsequent amending treaties.

      Presumably if Cameron still had a veto he would not allow this to happen:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9979950/Financial-Transaction-Tax-will-shackle-investors-and-harm-economy.html

      “Financial Transaction Tax ‘will shackle investors and harm economy'”

  34. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Just remember what it was like in the 70’s. No one else would have pulled us out of that.

  35. English Pensioner
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I admired her because she went into politics in an endeavour to achieve something that she believed in rather than as a “get rich quick” career which seems the norm these days. She had her beliefs and stuck to them, regardless of opinion polls, focus groups and all the pessimists. She stood up for this country abroad and British interests always came first. I may not have agreed with all she did, but that is irrelevant. She was the greatest prime minister of my life time, and as my parents thought the same, I can claim that, in the view of my family, she was the greatest prime minister since the late Victorian era.
    May she rest in peace.

  36. Mark
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I am among those who have felt a sense of loss today. Yet precisely that process of remembering the things that Margaret Thatcher achieved, and the steadfast manner in which she achieved them offers hope that we will find those with the same determination to restore the fortunes of our own country and its peoples, and encourage the democratic overthrow of oppression abroad and at home without expecting appeasement aid/welfare spending to do the job.

  37. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Last night’s television coverage remembering Margaret Thatcher was striking. Jon Snow’s “and me” profile on Channel 4 was reasonably generous in spirit and touched the right balance.

    Contrast the Andrew Marr hatchet job which was, presumably, taken out of the fridge given Mr Marr’s indisposition. One might argue that the ire Margaret Thatcher arouses on the left is a testament to the good work she did, but it is also testament to the vindictive and mean spirited approach of the left.

  38. JJ Morcrette
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Could it be that she was as she was because she was not to start with a professional politician, one with a PPE from Oxbridge, but someone with a real formation and a real job?

  39. Bryan
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    People celebrating her death are sick.

    There is nothing good to be said about them.

    Saddos, the lot of them!

    • Mark W
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      I don’t disagree that they are sick. But there’s an amusing irony to it. How many of them have the wit to figure out that there were millions more people in this world free to act in any manner they choose towards leaders and former leaders as a direct consequence of Margaret Thatcher. As John Redwood mentioned in his thoughtful peace this afternoon, the Berlin Wall was a symbol of the freedoms she had a huge hand in spreading. None of those socialist Utopias these protesters no doubt fantasise over would have, would, or ever will permit freedom.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Should have said piece not peace and ‘falling’ after Berlin Wall. I’d be grateful of direct edit, but respect that you may have other things on your mind when you log in.

  40. Mark W
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I thought your speech in parliament this afternoon was a lovely tribute. I’m glad you were the first speaker after the two front benches. Very fitting.

    Reply Thank you. It was a surprise to be called so soon.

    • zorro
      Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I thought it was very fitting for JR to be called at that stage. Perhaps it was in recognition of John’s influence on Lady Thatcher’s political thinking as chief policy advisor, and ongoing torch bearer of those popular principles?

      zorro

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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