Gale's View 17/04/2013
April 17th 2013
The funeral, this week, of Margaret Thatcher has marked the end of a political era.
To those of a certain age who have lived through her premiership it seems extraordinary that there is an adult generation that have only heard second hand or read of the circumstances that faced the United Kingdom when she walked into Downing Street in 1979 and more so that some young people should have found it appropriate to “celebrate” the death of a lady of whom they have had no personal experience and whose “anger” can only, therefore, be borrowed and synthetic.
Consider that in 1979 Prime Minister Thatcher inherited from her predecessor, James Callaghan, a country that had been brought to its knees by industrial action during the “Winter of Discontent” when the dead had lain unburied, when rubbish lay uncollected in piles in our streets and when the work of hospitals and schools as well as business and industry was severely disrupted. Forget the left-wing rhetoric. It was not “Thatcher” but a socialist administration in thrall to the Trade Union barons that had left a once-proud country on the very edge of bankruptcy and it was Margaret Thatcher`s first administration that took a nation by the scruff of its neck, dared to challenge unbridled union power, recreated a sense of national pride, gave back to the people of our country our faith in independence, in hard work, in thrift and in the rewards of endeavour and created for many the opportunity to own a first home that under previous Conservative and Labour administrations alike had never been more than a pipe-dream. By the time of the 1983 General Election, when I first entered the House of Commons, she had already successfully prosecuted the Falklands War in the teeth of opposition from both sides of the House and had earned the right to claim in her election slogan that “It`s Great to be Great Again”.
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. I believe that Margaret Thatcher will go down in history not just as Britain`s first woman Prime Minister but, in her own right, as one of the greatest Prime Ministers of all time. Very many people around the World owe their freedom and their lives to the determination and personal courage of a conviction politician and statesman whose legacy is a force for good that will be felt for generations to come. To those who were proud to be able to count her not just as a political colleague but as a friend she will be remembered for many acts of personal kindness and solicitude. Not for nothing was she known affectionately by young MPs and Party officials as “Mother” and it is not surprising that so many of her political opponents as well as her supporters have felt able to pay generous tribute to her.
While the long-term bequest of Margaret Thatcher`s tenure of Number Ten will remain with the United Kingdom for ever the short-term advantage that the Thatcher years won for United Kingdom Limited has been squandered as other countries have learned the lessons of the market economy while in Britain thrift has given way to economic incontinence. It now falls to another young Prime Minister, his Chancellor and his team of Ministers to demonstrate that the resolve necessary to once again turn the ship of State around is still part of our national DNA. We have done it before and we will, I believe, do it again because, as somebody whose memory I hold very dear once said, “there is no alternative”.