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So how are we responding in Britain to the death of Baroness Thatcher? Much as you did in the US to the demise of her soul-mate Ronald Reagan: with unbridled grave-stomping glee or grave regret and a teary sense of Ubi Sunt – according to political taste.
It goes without saying that I belong to the latter camp.
Time and again there were moments in Margaret Thatcher’s career when political expediency would have demanded that she soften her position: the time when all those economists wrote so expertly to The Times insisting she revert her supposedly disastrous monetary policy; the time when her cabinet were advising her not to go to war in the Falklands; the time when – ultimately fatally – she chose to face up to Europe rather than go native and cave.
She was proved right every time, of course, while all those who counseled otherwise have been proved oh-so-wrong. But is this because Margaret Thatcher was an intellectual genius blessed with magical insight into correct geopolitical strategy? Of course not. She would, I’m sure, have been horrified at the suggestion. Rather, what she believed in was old-fashioned commonsense. Or, what you might more sophisticatedly call “first principles”. So, for example, if thrift and hard work and self-discipline and honest aspiration work well on a household level, then the likelihood is that they’re going to work on a national level – regardless of what your clever civil servents might be telling you.
The Lady was not for turning because the lady had the courage of her convictions.
Convictions. Remember those, anyone?
But as Toby Young notes elsewhere, there’s no shortage of despicable haters quite incapable of waiting even a day before deluging this magnificent women with their bile, scorn and invective. Were she still with us, Toby reminds us, she would take it as a compliment. After all, as she once famously observed:
“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
RIP Baroness Thatcher. Such a pity you aren’t running our moribund country now.