On 8th April 2013, one of the greatest figures in Britain’s political history passed away. Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s life will forever shine as one of the brightest in the annals of our history with the extraordinary things she did for our country. No previous British Prime Minister has had an ism named after them. You cannot imagine Churchillism, Macmillanism, or Attleeism, and if such an ism had been conjured up, it would surely not have been about economics. There are those that profess to loathe her with, what can only be called, a naive ignorance, displaying an exceedingly shallow depth of understanding that is frankly embarrassing. Thatcher overcame astronomical obstacles and came to power in a time when women were still treated as an inferior species. Her sheer determination and hunger to fight for what she believed in and truly make a difference to the world is part of her vast legacy. No prime minister of modern times has sought to change Britain and its place in the world as radically as Margaret Thatcher did. As she wrote in her memoirs, “The Downing Street Years”, her government was about the application of a philosophy, not the implementation of an administrative program. Of her book, the Daily Express wrote, “Some things in life are priceless. So are Margaret Thatcher’s guts. They have left their mark on the world. So will The Downing Street Years.“
Thatcher experienced extraordinary successes, such as the victory in the Falklands, the privatisation program, the rescue of the economy from a crippling recession, and she did more for workers than her Leftie critics ever did. She also faced extensive and extreme opposition, among which were the Miners’ strike, the Brighton bomb, the poll tax riots, and the Westland affair, all of which she fought through with commendable tenacity and bravery. Her more controversial policies, such as the community charge in 1989, all had perfectly logical motives. The poll tax was simply a way to fund a bloated local government, as she explained in an address to the Central Council in Cheltenham, “Let’s be clear: it’s not the way the money is raised, it’s the amount of money that local government is spending. That’s the real problem. No scheme, no matter how ingenious, could pay for high spending with low charges.”
On 12th October 1984 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, a time-bomb was planted by the IRA in an attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher. Although she narrowly escaped unharmed, five people were killed, including Sir Anthony Berry and Eric Taylor, and 31 were injured, some of whom were permanently disabled. The next day the IRA claimed responsibility in a chilling statement:
Mrs. Thatcher will now realise that Britain cannot occupy our country and torture our prisoners and shoot our people in their own streets and get away with it. Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no more war.
Thatcher responded in the Brighton conference:
This was an attempt to cripple Her Majesty’s democratically elected Government. That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now—shocked, but composed and determined—is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.
When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, Britain was a dump, “the sick man of Europe” and on the brink of total economic collapse. When she left power in 1990, it was the one of the financial capitals of the world. She is associated with her political philosophy of Thatcherism, based on low taxation, low public spending, free markets and mass privatisation. During her tenure she had to deal with mass unemployment, out of control inflation, endless strikes, a war with the Falklands and an attempted assassination by the IRA. And in February 2007, she became the first British Prime Minister to be honoured with a statue in the House of Commons while still alive; a testament to her incredible legacy. In an interview by the BBC in 1973, she actually said, “I don’t think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime.”
Margaret Thatcher led a remarkable life and a great sadness has settled over the nation in recognition of the passing of a legend. But there can be no doubt that her legacy will endure for generations to come. At a specially convened session of Parliament yesterday, David Cameron paid tribute to “an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman.”
So many of the principles that Lady Thatcher fought for are now part of the accepted political landscape of our country. As Winston Churchill once put it, ‘there are some politicians that make the weather’, and Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly one of them. Mr. Speaker in the member’s lobby of the House of Commons there are rightly four principal statues: Lloyd George, who gave us the beginnings of the welfare state, Winston Churchill, who gave us victory in war, Clement Attlee who gave us the NHS, and Margaret Thatcher, who rescued our country from post-war decline. They say cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well, in 1979 came the hour, and came the lady. She made the political weather, she made history, and let this be her epitaph: she made our country great again.
Rest in peace Maggie, you are incredible.
Here are a collection of her most famous quotes:
Pennies don’t fall from heaven – they have to be earned here on earth.
No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.
Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.
My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police.
Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.
I, personally, have always voted for the death penalty because I believe that people who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that the death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that no-one should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty.
Socialists cry “Power to the people”, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean—power over people, power to the State.
There’s no such thing as society.
A man may climb Everest for himself, but at the summit he plants his country’s flag.
(To Conservative backbench MP John Whittingdale) The trouble with you, John, is that your spine does not reach your brain.
For every idealistic peacemaker willing to renounce his self-defence in favour of a weapons-free world, there is at least one warmaker anxious to exploit the other’s good intentions.
Constitutions have to be written on hearts, not just paper.
To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.
To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.
If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.
I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.
If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage.
There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.
I usually make up my mind about a man in ten seconds, and I very rarely change it.
It pays to know the enemy – not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.
It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake.
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.
Popular capitalism is nothing less than a crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation.
Imagine a Labour canvasser talking on the doorstep to those East German families when they settle in on freedom’s side of the wall. “You want to keep more of the money you earn? I’m afraid that’s very selfish. We shall want to tax that away. You want to own shares in your firm? We can’t have that. The state has to own your firm. You want to choose where to send your children to school? That’s very divisive. You’ll send your child where we tell you.