Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher

I was only in her company her twice. Once in late summer 1970 when newly appointed by Heath as Minster for Education she visited her old tutor Dorothy Hodgkin who was my DPhil supervisor. The second time was at Dorothy's memorial service when strange to many people she was not asked to give the eulogy although Dorothy taught her for 4 years. They remained in touch over the years. Dorothy was as far to the left as Maggie was to the right so Max Perutz an refugee Austrian Jew and like Dorothy a Nobel laureate gave the eulogy. Max was a lovely man. He said I am just a mongrel mid European Jew but Dorothy was pure middle England for many generations. The same was true of Margaret Hilda Roberts. She was pure middle England from the same geographical area as Dorothy and that other great English scientist Isaac Newton.

She was the first woman to be PM  but as important she was the first and only science graduate to become PM. When I was in the Civil Service she was a well regarded minister not something you could say of much of Heath's government.  (Curiously Heath had been in the house I shared the previous summer to see his god son whom I shared with.) Heath not only got us in to the Common Market in 72/73 without the consent of the British people but got the country into such a mess, 3 day week and black outs  that he ushered in 5 plus further years of disastrous Labour rule so that when Thatcher won in 1979 the country was widely regarded as ungovernable.

It was her great achievement to break the power of the unions and return the country to the rule of law. She also brought back prosperity by ignoring the views of the UK economic establishment and doing the exact but common sense opposite to their views. We should remember this today.

She was also a great war time leader and without her we would have lost the Falklands and our standing in the world. I regard her as a better PM than Churchill.

She was the longest serving PM of modern times, 12 years straight. I used to work with the dept of Geriatric medicine at Liverpool. One of the standard questions to determine if you were gaga was, "Who is the prime minister". It had to be dropped as Maggie  had been PM so long all the patients gaga or not got it right.

I was appalled today by the BBC's coverage of her life concentrating on her dotage and left wing critics. She was our greatest PM but they had to snipe at her even when she was dead. It shows just how nasty the so called liberal elite are.

She was a very great lady and we shall not see her like again.


Richboy said...

A nice piece Dr. E, and a fine tribute.

I didn't agree with all her policies, but came very close to joining the party while she was Leader.

I despise the fact that she signed the Single European Act, but at least she realised what she'd done afterwards, and adjusted her tone accordingly. Formidable woman; a national treasure.

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ALAN WOOD said...

I agree that the BBC coverage has been dire. Typical BBC to have a demonic anti-Thatcher type as counter to the mild-mannered pro-Thatcher type, all in the cause of fair play you understand !
My recollection of the Thatcher years (and I have read her biography along with books by Major, Wilson, Grimond, Blair, Teresa Gorman) was of breaking the unions. The Union-dominated years of British Leyland (rubbish cars compared with my KIA), and the miners strikes.
Scargill was right actually. They did have a closure list but denied it all along. It would be interesting to be reminded who proposed and seconded Maggie's nomination as PM. My guess is a "globaliser" who saw the money to be made in capturing control of the public utilities.
The move to North Sea and Irish Sea gas kept the Tories in power because access to cheap fuel helps all businesses and the public.
She was a strong leader when leadership was needed.
Towards the end of her reign she did become very arrogant but I suspect that she had outlived her usefulness to the pro-EU brigade of Hurd, Howe, Heseltine, Clarke and Maude so they got her out in the most contemtible way while her back was turned. Heath's sniping from the sidelines didn't help - what a dreadful old tart he was.
Nobody is perfect, but her plus's heavily outweighed the minus's and one does need a loyal team. That dreadful grey pro-EU man Major who preferred Currie to his fragrant wife was a pygmy by comparison.
Then came Blair, the epitome of lies and sleaze. Why can't we know about Dr. Kelly ?
Maggie Thatcher deserves better than the BBC - pity she didn't close it down - a cesspit of elitist lizards.

Eric Edmond said...


I agree. MT's good points out weighed her faults by far. Her PPS when she was Minister for Education thought she was brilliant. She always thought her biggest error was ending free school milk.

I will try and write something on the BBC which is long past its sell by date.

Heath's god son decscribed him to me as embarassingly awful.


Mr Roddeny said...

Well Dr Kelly has gone now, you've
seen the best explination you are
going to get on that one.
The enlightened of british politics
read well onsuch cases.

Roger Shimpton said...

I don't think she was as popular
as most people think with parties
going on all over the UK and Ireland to celebrate her death, with many more underground celebrations arranged and predicted
for the weekend. She was just another part of the fare culture we
are forced to live under in the UK,
the fact thet people have to underground to party proves that.

Richboy said...

'...parties celebrating her death...'

Yes, but only by morons. No-one under 42 / 43 is going to have any meaningful recollections.

Anyone who has lived through the period is likely to take a more balanced view. As an example, there were credit controls in place when she came in in, in 1979. For example, colour TV's were still extremely expensive to buy, so many people rented. The Callaghan govt. introduced 12 month control orders, so that you had to rent for a minimum of 12 months, and you had to pay 6 months rental up front. Thatcher thought this (and other controls) were nonsense, and abolished them. Free movement of capital, goods and services - within the UK.

The miners had it coming; the Conservatives never forgave them for bringing down the Heath government. The T & GWU were infested by KGB agents like Jack Jones and Alec Kitson.

Mr Stibbons said...

what you say is true, but tory governments have also been infested
with KGB agents and spies, especially the Cambridge Boy's there were probably more there than
infiltrated the miners, point of fact. Anyway you're wrong about the
parties, Thatcher actually said the
more people that have parties on her death proved she acheived something, she wanted that to happen, she longed the reaction, this concluded her theory she had actually done something.

Robert Trotter said...

Anyway, Richboy there'll certainly
never be another one like her. they
used to call her the Battle Maiden
woman of her caliber are all but exstinct. Just power drunk PC these
day's.making a right mess of everything they touch.

Richboy said...

Well, Mr. Stibbons, I don't "go" with blind hatred - which seems to be the prime motivator. The BBC and Channel 4 coverage of her death has been nothing less than disgraceful - way beyond unbalanced.

I'd rather remember her for the positive things she did, like transforming our bankrupt, dead economy, and realising how wrong she was on the EU - and owning up to it.

I have to agree - with sadness - with Mr. Trotter. All too true.