I first heard that Maggie had passed away when BBC Radio Derby called me for a comment, so the news came as a bit of a shock. But while I have always admired her enormously, I had met her only rarely and briefly over the years, so I was almost taken aback by the very real and immediate sense of personal bereavement and loss which hit me. After swallowing hard, I recalled for the BBC one of those personal contacts — the occasion twenty years ago in Seoul, Korea, at a British Chamber of Commerce breakfast, when Korean journalists and photographers were milling round her in a state of chaos. They were having trouble coping with the idea of a woman who was also a Head of Government and a global figure. But she got them sorted out and into line with a few crisp, well-chosen words. Korean men are not reared to respect women, but they recognise the stamp of authority when they see it.
On April 11th, I was speaking at a UKIP energy meeting in Bedford, and Local Chairman George Konstandinidis started the event with a minute’s silence for Maggie. I was delighted to find that a UKIP meeting was happy to show that degree of cross-party respect for Lady Thatcher.
Yet she is so often misrepresented. Both euro-fanatics and climate alarmists love to claim the endorsement of major political figures, often without justification. I have lost count of the times I’ve been told in Brussels that Winston Churchill supported the idea of European Union. He did indeed call for European integration, to prevent France and Germany from going to war with each other yet again, but he had no more idea of Britain forming part of that union, and ceding sovereignty to Brussels, than of flying to the moon.
Similarly, climate alarmists love to claim that Lady Thatcher was on their side. True, she was one of the earliest world leaders to identify a possible issue with climate — but also, with her customary clarity and incisiveness, one of the first to see through it. This what she wrote as early as 2002:
The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else. Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism. All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method. — Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft, HarperCollins 2002
It is a tragedy that Lady T’s passing has been the occasion for unreconstructed leftists, Commies and assorted Trots to celebrate their opposition to her memory. Their behaviour has been beyond the bounds of both politics and decency. They have formed a Coalition of the Ignorant, the Small-Minded and the Mean-Spirited. There is little they can do, of course, to demean her memory, which will shine on like a beacon long after her critics are forgotten, but they demean and debase themselves, and in the process they also demean their country. We are all the poorer for their actions.
I am struck in particular by the Union leaders from the mining industry, who criticise Lady T as if they thought that they (and perhaps their children and grandchildren) had a divine right to mining jobs in perpetuity, whether or not the coal was there, and whether or not it could be economically extracted. Writing as UKIP’s energy spokesman, I am rather keen on coal, but I accept that its extraction and supply have to be subject to normal commercial criteria, and we all have to recognise that no one has a right to a job for life.
The BBC has not distinguished itself over the issue of the Wizard of Oz song, which has been “Chart-Jacked” (I believe this is term) in order to get it played on Radio 1. There appears to be a clash here between freedom of speech on the one hand, and common decency on the other. But I think the proper response would have been straightforward. The chart is meant to reflect public preferences in music. The Witch song is clearly and demonstrably a political stunt, not an æsthetic preference, and therefore it has no place in a music programme. It has already had too much coverage on news programmes.
I personally should not have had the temerity to lay claim to Maggie’s legacy on behalf of my new Party. But I was glad to see that Fraser Nelson, the distinguished Editor of the Spectator, did just that in a Telegraph article. He pointed out that Maggie listened to the voters. She spoke in clear and accessible language about the issues that concern ordinary people. She struck a chord with MondeoMan. And love her or hate her, you knew where she stood. None of today’s party leaders seems to have any of those qualities, as they huddle together on the shrinking “middle ground”. None, says Fraser Nelson, except Nigel Farage. “Margaret Thatcher listened to the voters”, he writes. “Now it’s Nigel Farage who hears their despair”.
Perhaps it’s time for UKIP to pick up the Torch so recklessly abandoned by the Tory Party.