On the death of a leader

Margaret_Thatcher_cropped2It is with great sadness today that I awoke to the news of the death of former British prime minister, Baroness Thatcher.

Perhaps the most divisive British leader of the modern era, she will always be remembered as a figure of hate for the left, and a pillar of free market economics and aspiratonalism to the right. One would hope that the British left do not sneer and gloat. I would also hope that the Tory party does not shy away from praising her. She was after all their greatest party leader of the post-war era. 

I do not wish to bury this article in the minutiae of her achievements and failures. I was born in the final years of her government (1989) so I do not have experience of her time as prime minister. But I will try to view her legacy through the lens of my personal experience.

I know the Britain I was born into. It was a Britain on the rise. It was a Britain with an economy that was fierce and resurgent. It was a Britain standing arm in arm with the United States, overseeing the collapse of a vicious and destructive dictatorial megalith, at the end of the Cold War.

I am a product of the British private school system. Culturally and socially speaking, it is not a fantastic time to be an old boy of this system. Messrs Cameron and Osborne have been tainted with the image of “Old Etonian posh boys” who don’t understand the normal person in the street. One must remember the critical difference about Margaret Thatcher. She was not a self-entitled member of the so-called upper class establishment. She was a green grocer’s daughter. She was just one of many.

My father talks fondly of Thatcher. As a young man he lived through the dark years of the 1970s, which saw a severe decline of Britain’s economy and international standing. It is impossible to deny Thatcher’s legacy. In ten years she transformed the nation. Were it not for her, today the country would be a different place.

Argentina

I currently reside in Argentina. So far the response in the national papers has been muted. What is clear however, is that here the focus is upon the Falklands conflict. Here Thatcher also represents a figure of hate. She embodies for Argentina the devastation that that conflict wrought upon the people. However I would remind Argentines (I’m going to get in trouble for this) that her decision to fight for the Falklands expedited the downfall of the military regime. What is for me the greatest shame about living here, is that despite the kindness and openness of the Argentine people I know and love here, the conflict continues between our governments.

Whatever you think about Thatcher, be she a figure of hate or love, I urge all people at this moment to respect the passing of an Iron Lady. I hope that instead of firebrand condemnation, ugly celebration, or pious defence, we can all now reflect upon the first female leader of Britain. May the discussion of her legacy be intelligent and softly spoken.


Edmund Greaves is co-editor of The Libertarian Press. He also writes travel articles at the www.curiousenglishman.com

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