Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P.

Thatcher was pragmatic about her methods but constant in her targets: socialism, the Labour party and above all the collectivist state that Labour, abetted by one-nation postwar Conservatism, had constructed. She believed that the state was a burden on private enterprise. Its cost was crippling the economy and overloading it with debt. Vested interest had been allowed to flourish, most notably in the trade unions but also in the nationalised industries of coal, steel and telecommunications.

Many others shared her analysis. The strength of her beliefs gave her the courage to push on where others might have conciliated. She came to ignore criticism with a ruthlessness that was in the end her undoing.

She was not the only person who saw a world divided between good and evil. What marked her out was a willingness to say so, abroad as well as at home. Soviet leaders, after years of detente, were startled to find their regime denounced as the embodiment of inhumanity, bent on military expansion. Before she had won a general election vote in the UK, Thatcher had won the sobriquet overseas of the Iron Lady.

Only an outsider could have given birth to an ideology as iconoclastic as Thatcherism, and Thatcher always regarded herself as a challenger of the status quo, a rebel leader against established power. What mattered to her was less the breadth of her support than the depth of her convictions.

Anne Perkins, at The Guardian


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