Christopher Lee

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Thatcher Is Gone – God Help God!

 

8th April 2013

It’s surprising that the baroness lived so long – 87 years.  Margaret Thatcher, famously Not For Turning, turned mortal on 8th April 2013.

She was born on the most famous date in Saxon history, the 13th October – the day remembered each year as the doomed eve of the Battle of Hastings as the British throne prepared to perish at the Norman French of William the Conqueror.  It was the last successful invasion of the United Kingdom. 

Thatcher spent almost all her time as prime minister making sure that there would never be a second European invasion of her shores.

Born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925 she was the intellectual property of Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School rather than her tutors in chemistry at Somerville College Oxford. 

The Grantham grammar taught common sense.  It was a class of lower and middle class tradesmen’s daughters where an empty purse meant you didn’t buy until it jingled with enough coinage to pay everyone.  She applied the simple economic example to the torturous eleven years of her premiership that started in 1979 in double-digit inflation. Few go into Downing Street as expert Prime Ministers and First Lords of the Treasury. Thatcher was no exception.

In fact her triumphs were not economic. Led by the last of the Whigs, Lord Carrington, she fixed the decades problem of what to do about the rebellion in Northern Rhodesia. Within months, Carrington brought about a solution and modern Zimbabwe was created and a political and diplomatic backside pain was cured. None guessed the future of the Mugabe regime.  She was just glad that it was no longer her problem.

The next problem was almost her political end.  In 1982 the faithful Lord Carrington failed to convince Cabinet and Thatcher that there was a real danger of invasion of the Falklands.  When the event occurred, she was about to accept the advice of her army and RAF chiefs of staff that Britain did not have the logistics and forces to take back the islands.  It was only the last moment intervention of a crusty admiral, Sir Henry Leach who told her he could put together a carrier task force that saved her.  If she had lost the Falklands, she would have lost the next election and there would have been no Iron Lady, a Russian term for her, and no Thatcherism.

Along with her political Tory guru, Sir Keith Joseph aka her Mad Monk, she set about changing the way Tory governments thought British society should change. Fundamentally she believed there was no such thing as a society that could expect cradle to grave cosseting. It was the Grantham Purse Economics school of running the country that was, she believed running into the incompetent clutches of an increasingly federally include Europe. She’d have none of it and even considered withdrawing.  Single currency? Euro? Over her dead body.  Europe of course didn’t wait for that event, but the Tory party did. If Thatcher would be remembered for anything in particular about her Party is that she left a Conservative movement fighting each other over Europe.  She would say, recent events proved her correct.

Now she will have her state funeral. She wanted to lie in state for adoring thousands to pass, pause, reflect, pay respects and move on wiping a tear.  Maybe the truth is that few would have queued to pay their respects. She was no Queen Mother. She was no Diana. She was Thatcher who created division in her realm.  Ask them in Lewis Merthyr in south Wales where the last Rhondda pit closed on her watch.  Ask them in the north east where the yards and steel closed. Ask them almost anywhere outside the Thatcher belt of Bucks, Berks, Surrey and Hants.  Few would don black to line the route to St Pauls. Few would even remember what Thatcherism was. The media will write Iron Lady headlines and others will tell us she was the greatest prime minister since Churchill.

Our thoughts should be with the baroness’s family for their loss. But outside there will be fewer tears at her going.  Thatcherism was all so long ago.

There is one thought none of us can imagine the consequences: where has she gone? If it’s where she imagine she was going, then the great archangel of all will remember why she is on her way and why among her Cabinet colleagues (sic) she was known as Tina – There Is No Alternative

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