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Margaret Thatcher

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Margaret ThtacherPoll shows she would easily win an election today

An interesting poll by YouGov for The Telegraph today suggests that if Margaret Thatcher was at the peak of her powers today she would win an overwhelming majority at a general election. I find this quite interesting, it is no 18 years since she left Downing Street but apparently the memory of her tenure contains such an aura of respect. There is no doubt that her Premiership can be seen as divisive, she was swept to power in Downing Street at a time when political thinking was very polarised, Labour was in the grip of the Trades Unions and the hard left, and the Conservatives had elected a female leader with philosophies taken from the libertarian right, and economic solutions taken from Friedman and Hayek. There were no grey areas back then, the arguments were black or white, left or right, no middle ground to fight over, and as far as the leaders of the two main parties were concerned you either loved or loathed them.

So what was it that marked out Margaret Thatcher’s era as one of “greatness”? What defining quality did she carry that makes people believe that she was our greatest Prime Minister since Sir Winston Churchill?

Putting aside the “love or loathe” principles (and the two camps had plenty of followers in South Shields) the one over riding quality that I, and many others, saw in her was the championing of the individual over the state. In so many areas she made great strides in rolling back the frontiers of state and bureaucracy. Whether it was in housing, with the right to buy, or taxation by giving individuals more freedom to choose how to spend their own earnings, or the privatisations that reduced the role of the state in industry and allowed individuals to invest. Those under the of thirty or forty may find it difficult to understand that at one time you could only fly on a state owned airline, by steel from a state owned company, or that you could not own shares in the telecommunications industry.

She was a conviction politician driven on by a religious Methodist background which dictated that the individual and the family knew nest how to run their own lives, and make their own decisions. Since her demise we have not seen a similar politician at Westminster, not even Tony Blair could be described as a conviction politician despite his best attempts to pull the Labour Party away from it’s traditionalist roots, and the current leader of the Conservative Party has still not fully endeared himself to dyed in the wool old school Tories. The Thatcher era and policies were right for the time, and in many respects the time is approaching again when we need less of a congestion in the middle road of politics; the leading parties fighting over the middle ground will inevitably end up with a set of policies that the electorate will have a difficult time in deciphering and maintaining a clear choice. We need at least two clear sets of values before the next election in order to make a clear choice, and I suggest that David Cameron needs to move towards one of Thatcher’s values, making the individual feel important, empowered, and less threatened by the state and corporatism.

For all her achievements, as recognised in the poll, Lady Thatcher never really slayed the socialist dragon, even if she gave it a good kicking and forced it to withdraw and consider a new approach. Thirty years ago, during the no-confidence debate that led to the fall of the Callaghan government, she said:

“There has been a failure not only of policies but of the whole philosophy on which they are based – the philosophy which elevates the state, dwarfs the individual and enlarges the bureaucracy.”

We need someone who could make that speech today.

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Written by curly

April 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Conservative, News, politics

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. I think it would not be difficult for her today to win because her word was her honesty.


    April 7, 2008 at 9:26 pm

  2. I came of age hating Thatcher…it has taken me a good few years to understand and appreciate who and what she really was…..she served the nation well.


    April 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm

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