April 09, 2013 | Graham

I was wrong about Thatcher

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.

Posted by Graham at 8:34 am | Comments (12) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Well put. Excellent blog.

    Comment by Max — April 9, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  2. “where there is dischord may we bring harmony”
    It’s a wonder she didn’t choke on the audacity of a statement brimming over with hypocrisy and mendacity.

    Comment by barney — April 9, 2013 @ 10:33 am

  3. Barney the fact that you can’t see the truth in that statement of Thatchers is exactly what is wrong with what we call a society today

    Comment by Hasbeen — April 9, 2013 @ 11:08 am

  4. The Passing of Margaret Thatcher is moment where I reflect on how I myself have changed. In the late 1970’s early 80’s I held very different political views than I do today . Growing up in the 60’s I was one of the so called Woodstock generation . A very heady magical mystery tour it all was too. Politically left of centre, I felt Thatcherism was uncaring and downright cruel . ” Life wasn’t meant to be economically viable Man”… How times and myself have changed over the last twenty years. Today I would describe myself as strongly Conservative . Not right wing. For the far right are just the far left with a better wardrobe . But defiantly conservative . Individual freedom . Personal responsibility . Small Government are real concerns . A loathing of socialist Fabianism . The entitlement trap . Agenda 21 ,Green Environmentalism. And cultural relativism I also despise. Along with the Climate Change Racket , the BBC, ABC( Ausralia) and the Guardian . I can perhaps some up the changes I have gone through in a line of the great Mohammed ( the boxer) who said , If you still think the same at fifty as you did at twenty, you have wasted thirty years of your life. So I am truly sad at the passing of The Iron Lady. Sad for her family and sad for the free western world . A bright star went out last night and the night seems that little bit darker now that its gone.

    Comment by Dan Lawton — April 9, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  5. Hasbeen are you saying that Thatcher brought harmony to Britain? Perhaps you might like to consult a dictionary.

    Comment by barney — April 9, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  6. People who cannot recognise what Thatcher did for Britain and for the world are people who look at a straight line and see a dog’s hind leg.
    Britain would have been a Cyprus of the time without her.

    Comment by George Gell — April 9, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  7. Barney harmony is something you can’t afford when at war. UK unionism was destroying the country, & it’s industry. If you can’t see that it had to be stopped you are a fool.

    It is probably better that people have something to eat, than can sing in harmony. With out Maggy turning the country at least partly around, many of those people who fought her, would be going very hungry now, & they would have a lot of mates.

    God how the UK, & Oz need a Maggy right now.

    Comment by Hasbeen — April 9, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  8. It is impossible to discuss issues with someone who resorts to hyperbole and simplistic sloganeering instead of rational discourse. Have a good day hasbeen.

    Comment by barney — April 9, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

  9. Hasbeen, once again you mirror my sentiments here. Dan Lawton, you have articulated both my own journey in life and the political/social conclusion I have reached, as quoted by Mohammud Ali, we appear not to have wasted the past 30 odd years.
    Thatcher is also quoted as being a founding member of the ‘climate change’ move, and was also instrumental in establishing the IPCC. What is not quoted was her later complete rejection of the whole business when, as a scientist herself, she examined the then available data and research.
    In the same way that I railed against Reagan at the time, maturity and experience has reversed my views of his administration as we.

    Comment by Prompete — April 9, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  10. The true value of Margaret Thatcher is not so much what she did, but what she prevented – a Labour Government led by Michael Foot. See Margaret Thatcher’s real legacy – http://www.towardsabetterday.blogspot.com.au

    Comment by Graham Cooke — April 10, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  11. Well, it might be fair to say, that everything that is economically wrong with Britain today, had its origins in Thatcherism?
    That said, the unions simply had to be pulled into line, and the Iron Lady was just the Leader to do it.
    However, rather than closing all those mines and effectively destroying all those towns, she could have sent the army in; and arrested Cargill, and other union Leaders, for inciting riots, or treason?
    While I did and do still disagree with most of her policies, [I’m no fan of individualism, dog eat dog extreme capitalism, Enron, Ponzi schemes etc/etc,] I respect the courage of conviction that gave rise to them!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — April 10, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  12. Margaret Thatcher was only half right.She did not apply her principles to the ruling class who are and were guilty of greater evils, ie that of theft via the banking system.

    Great Britian and the planet is far worse off under the nepotism and counterfeiting of our currencies via the scam of fractional reserve banking.

    Comment by Ross — April 11, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

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