(on a side note can you see how close the press got in those days?)
I think Blue is definitely the right colour for this post. 30 years ago today Margaret Thatcher assumed the premiership of the UK. Her extraordinary leadership bought both pain and progress for the country. Good articles from both the BBC and the Daily Telegraph outline her legacy. Text from the Telegraph below but I strongly urge readers to check out the BBC link above the slide show in that article is a good one.
Margaret Thatcher's tumultuous premiership
Margaret Thatcher stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street on that fateful day, May 4 1979, beaming and waving at the cheering crowds, but looking isolated and vulnerable.
Last Updated: 11:26AM BST 04 May 2009
Margaret Thatcher on the doorstep of No 10, with John Sergeant on the left Photo: PA Was she the right person, people were asking, to tackle a Britain which was bedevilled by strikes and cursed by bullying trade union bosses who seemed to exert more power even than the Cabinets of Labour governments which preceded her administration? How wrong her critics, with their patronising remarks, proved to be. For Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Britain's first woman prime minister, was about to embark on what was undeniably the most tumultuous peacetime premiership of the 20th century.
She unprecedentedly won three elections in a row, during a period of Tory rule which kept Labour out of office for 18 years. And she would almost certainly have won a fourth election had she not, in 1990, been "betrayed" - to use her own word - by colleagues who brought about her downfall after 11 years in power. Now, 30 years on, the passage of time has not tempered one jot the feelings people still have about her. Her political enemies to this day regard her as little short of diabolical, while her supporters still refer to her in almost beatific terms. It is seemingly impossible to have luke-warm views about Margaret Thatcher. That is a mark of the impact she had made not only on this country but around the world as well. She fought a brilliant campaign in 1979. Her remark that she understood how to manage a household budget and was equipped, therefore, to run the country prudently, was a stroke of genius.
At one point during the campaign she unwisely agreed to pick up a grubby and struggling calf at the behest of photographers. Her husband Denis, shouted out: "Put the bloody thing down, dear. You'll kill it." The beast expired on the following day. The Tories won that 1979 general election, in the wake of the disastrous Winter of Discontent, with a comfortable majority in the Commons of more than 40. Mrs Thatcher famously stood in Downing Street quoting what was said to be St Francis of Assisi: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony... where there is despair, may we bring hope." In fact, some say the words are more likely Victorian.
She went inside to pick her new Cabinet, saying: "I feel an aura of calm." But there was nothing calm about the next 11 years: she transformed the derided so-called "sick man of Europe" into a robust, world economic power again. She tamed the trade unions, effectively emasculating the union leaders and handing them back to their members, as she put it. She responded to the Argentine invasion of the Falklands by doing what nobody believed she dared to do, sending a majestic task force 8,000 miles into the southern hemisphere, and driving the invaders off the islands.
She took on Arthur Scargill and defeated the miners after a year-long bitter struggle. She ended the 13-year rebellion against the Crown in Rhodesia. In 1984 she narrowly survived an IRA attack on the Grand Hotel, Brighton, saying two days later: "This was the day I was not meant to see." And she abolished the Greater London Council and other metropolitan authorities. Margaret Thatcher, who never promoted a woman from the Commons into her Cabinet, had complete control over her ministers. "I don't mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say," she said.
She strode the world like a colossus, opening up an entirely new relationship with the Kremlin - "I can do business with this man," she said of Mikhail Gorbachev - and she struck up an intense political relationship with Ronald Reagan, the US President. And she treated many European leaders and bureaucrats with what some people described as contempt and what her arch-enemy Edward Heath called "foghorn diplomacy". Brussels Eurocrats often visibly cowered before her handbagging tirades.
And she went on to defeat Labour, under the feeble leadership of Michael Foot in 1983, and in 1987 routed Labour again with Neil Kinnock at the helm. Even her political adversaries admired her for her conviction rather than consensus politics, and her "lady's not for turning" utter refusal to be budged off course. Left-winger Tony Benn once said he preferred her style of leadership to what he regarded as the fudged style of Neil Kinnock. But her reign did not end as triumphantly as she would have wished. It juddered uncomfortably to a halt.
By the time she had been in power for 10 years, some Tory MPs started to mutter that she had been there long enough. And she was seriously weakened by a leadership battle with a barely known and insignificant Tory back-bencher stalking horse Sir Anthony Meyer. She beat him easily but 60 MPs had either voted for Meyer or abstained - a hugely damaging blow to her authority.
Events followed thick and fast. Nigel Lawson (described by Thatcher as "unassailable") had already resigned a few days earlier. Sir Geoffrey Howe resigned from the Government and delivered a devastating Commons attack on the Prime Minister which shook her to the core. Michael Heseltine, who had stormed out of the Cabinet in a rage over the Westland Helicopters affair three years earlier, announced he would challenge her for the leadership. And on the day of that election she foolishly, some would say, attended a meaningless summit in Paris when her supporters thought her time would be more profitably spent at Westminster drumming up votes. She won, but not by a sufficient margin to avoid a second ballot. Thatcher appeared on the steps of the British Embassy in Paris, looking shaken but boldly saying: "I fight on. I fight to win."
But on her return, her Cabinet colleagues, one by one, warned her that defeat stared her in the face if she did fight on. Reluctantly she announced she would quit and days later she left Downing Street for the last time, in tears. Feminists had applauded her arrival in Downing Street, but that degenerated into disappointment and even rancour. To this day they complain that she did nothing for women. At one point Thatcher said: "I owe nothing to Women's Lib." But her premiership was not all sound and fury. She loved children and adored her grandson Michael.
One bitterly cold day in Beijing, scores of tiny children had turned out to parade in her honour. They were shivering and dressed in the flimsiest of clothing. Thatcher took on the might of the Chinese army and won. She approached a gold-braided officer and effectively told him: "Either you give these children some warm clothes or I go home." The officer cowered and complied. She once attended a children's party at Westminster, urging them to eat up their sausages and baked beans. A year later, one parent said to his small daughter: "Would you like to go to that party in the House of Commons again this year?" The youngster replied: "Yes, but only if that nice dinner lady is there... " At one stage, the current Tory leadership appeared to be trying to distance itself from her. David Cameron astonishingly once refused an opportunity to have his photograph taken with her - although she had agreed. But he quickly realised that that attitude was unwise, to say the least. Margaret Thatcher, after all these years, remains an honoured figure in Tory politics and no doubt will remain so for years to come. But perhaps her greatest misjudgment came early in her political career when she said: "There won't be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime."
I am an English guy in my thirties. I have served in the Army, after that I went to university. Upon graduation I went to work in the Middle East and since then have worked and traveled across that region. My home is now in Lancashire and I undertake work on a range of matters to do with travel and business setup in difficult regions. My reason for starting this blog is to engage in dialogue with people whom I respect but strongly disagree with on issues. Plus they should then be less likely to accuse me of trolling! I am a libertarian by nature my politics are centre-right and my preferred governmental model would probably be the one espoused by the USA.
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