Friday, April 12, 2013

Thatcher - the passing of a great

So farewell Baroness Thatcher.  She has passed on to glory and will deservedly rest in peace.

All the talk about how great a prime minister she was, has to be considered taking account of the particular commentator.  Those on the 'left' always talk of her as being divisive or opinionated and these qualities are seen to be naturally bad.  Here is my personal view of this great lady.

When Margaret Thatcher won her first General Election, as leader of the Conservative Party, in May 1979, I was an active member of the Labour Party, in London.  Not a member of the Militant group (remember them?) but we certainly had some members who followed their 'entryist' approach to politics.  I was actually Chairman of my local ward party and heavily involved in organising the getting out of the Labour vote.

Labour won the safe seat but I remember feeling dis-heartened that we hadn't won the election.  Looking back now, I really struggle to understand why, I was feeling so.  Britain had been racked by strike after strike for much of the previous decade; in 1978, 29 Million workdays were lost because of strike action (now it is less than 1 million a year!).  Talk today is of the so called 'winter of discontent' which saw dustmen on strike and rubbish uncollected.  Also gravediggers not burying bodies and hospital porters not moving them, and so on.  I too though recall, the earlier days of the 1970s when interspersed with regular strike action, we had 'three day weeks' and power outages, all brought about by unionised strikers and enforced by their 'flying pickets' who used mob tactics to intimidate non-striking businesses to achieve their aims.  Britain was on its knees.  I can only plead the ignorance or folly of youth for why I thought that 'more of the same' from Labour, was going to be better than the Conservative alternative.

And what an alternative!

Mrs Thatcher blew into No. 10 and started the transformation of the UK.  I left the country 9 months later and started working abroad.  Had I retained my 'leftist' leanings, I guess I could have claimed to have been 'a victim of persecution who couldn't bear to live under such a right-wing tyranny etc.' but the truth is, I was offered a better paying job and took it.

I returned to the UK in 1985 but had obviously kept in touch with goings on.  I started to move towards seeing the benefits of Mrs Thatcher as PM, following the robust, no-nonsense way that she had the Iranian Embassy siege handled.  It was probably the Falklands War that moved me firmly into the 'Maggie Camp'.  She had the moral conviction to recognize the rightness or correctness, call it what you will, of not allowing a military dictator to take-over a part of the UK and then the courage to follow through and eject him and his invading force.  That this then directly led to democracy taking over from a military dictatorship and democratic rights instead of 'disappearances' being the way of life in Argentina, seems to have been lost on latter-day leaders in that country.

I had viewed the 1984 miners strike through TV and other media and to me it was very apparent that this was a struggle, for the very control of a democratic country, between a democratically elected government and an extreme left and undemocratic National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).   This union was led by Arthur Scargill and during the strike, part-funded by the radical Muammar Gaddafi, then the leader of Libya, who was also funding and arming the terrorist IRA, at the same time.  This is something which the BBC, in its 'balanced' reporting usually omits to mention.

So, back in the UK and then I started to see the changes that had been wrought and just around the corner, was the Big Bang and its freeing-up of financial services from outdated practices.  A freeing-up that led to London becoming the pre-eminent financial centre for the World.

Many other writers have dissected the achievements of Baroness Thatcher and passed comment and you can judge yourself.  For me, council house sales and the bringing within the law of the unions are her outstanding domestic ones.  Her steadfast opposition to Communism, in partnership with Ronald Reagan and her fight against the federalizing direction of the EU, along with the Falklands War, were her outstanding foreign achievements.

People say that it was the Community Charge or 'poll tax' that brought her down.  My recollection was that the trigger was Europe and her opposition to the deluded plans of the ruling European elite.   This is what caused the likes of Michael Heseltine (was there ever a more vain politician?) and Geoffrey Howe (nothing needs to be said) to take her on.  Of course, Tory MPs were worried, or frit to use a famous Thatcher word, about their re-election prospects but personally, amongst those I spoke to at the time, there was great support for the Community Charge - much like there is today, for the changes to Welfare payments.  

Anyway, if you were to chose an epitaph for Mrs Thatcher, something along the lines of 'She made Britain, Great again but was brought down by pygmies'

I sincerely hope that the funeral that is planned for this great lady and great Briton, passes off without any incidents orchestrated by the radical left.  If it doesn't or if you hear any comments from anyone under 35 years of age, ask them what they know of Britain before Margaret Thatcher?  Ask them to specifically state how she negatively affected their life?  Ask them, if they think that had Scargill and his Communist allies succeeded, they would be allowed to protest in such a way?  Where would Britain be today, had Baroness Thatcher not ruled?  Where would Eastern Europe be, had she and Reagan not been at the forefront of opposition to Communist Soviet Russia?

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