When I was in my early 20s I disapproved of most things that Margaret Thatcher did. Now I approve. What has changed?
Well, apart from a huge increase in experience on my part, what she did proved its worth. She took the UK from being an economic and social basket case and made it “great” again, in more ways than one.
Grantham, where she was born, has had two famous children – Thatcher and Isaac Newton. Thatcher’s exploits in politics may not eclipse in importance Newton’s in physics, mathematics and monetary policy, but they are certainly in the same neighbourhood.
That Britain could have become ungreat in such a short time, and that her decline was so quickly reversed is a lesson for all, particularly today’s political class.
Thatcher was Britain’s first woman prime minister (although they’d trialled female monarchs with outstanding success some years before) and towers in stark contrast to Australia’s first woman prime minister.
Gillard and her government stand for almost everything that Thatcher opposed. If they were to survive Australia would continue down the very same path that the UK did before Thatcher.
The problem with that for Australians is that the Margaret Thatchers of the world, and the circumstances which allow them to occur, are statistical outliers. It’s much more common to end up like Greece, Spain or France, than the UK.
That’s because electors like to take the soft option and generally aren’t up for the tough love that can make a country number one.
I’ve always thought it unfair that the one quote that Margaret Thatcher is known for is “There is no such thing as society”. It’s derided as being support for a dog eats dog world when what she was really saying is that society is the collective actions of individuals and that we have a responsibility to give as well as opportunities to take.
Here is the whole quote. In its entirety it could fairly be her epitaph.
They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation.