Dr Stephen Davies Education Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs says remember the positives, acknowledge the negatives and move on.
Usually, when a politician dies many years after they left office we are reminded of Chesterton’s observation that the purpose of obituaries is to tell us people have died when none of us knew they were still alive. This is not the case with Margaret Thatcher. Even after being out of office for many years she remained a figure in the public consciousness and continued to arouse passionate feelings of both admiration and hostility. As the reactions to her passing show, she continues to divide feeling and opinion, in death as in life.
This reflects two basic facts about her. The first was the clarity of her position and underlying beliefs as a politician. She had strong and definite views and ideas that she argued for with a clarity unusual in today’s marketing driven politics. Everyone knew (or at least thought they knew) what she stood for and believed in. Even more importantly many of her most famous policies (such as selling council houses to tenants for example) came directly from her beliefs – this was not a matter of looking for a policy that would be popular or would win votes and adopting it for that reason. There was with Thatcher a strong perception that the policy of her governments was driven by and derived from principle, regardless of whether you agreed with those principles.
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