I was only twelve when Lady Thatcher was replaced as Tory Leader and Prime Minister, I remember my mother being particularly happy at the news.
Growing up in 1980s South Yorkshire, I was used to hearing abusive things said about Margaret Thatcher, particularly in the aftermath of the miners’ strike.
But as some of you may have guessed, those things didn’t have a lasting effect on me or my views on Lady Thatcher.
She set the benchmark that future Leaders and Prime Ministers are judged by, just think, every time a politician commits a u-turn, the Lady’s not for turning clip gets played, and PMs and Leaders are compared to that.
A few years ago, I heard William Hague speak, where he said, and I paraphrase, Margaret Thatcher’s achievement was that she not only changed her party, she changed the Labour Party, and arguably caused the creation of the SDP, not many politicians have had such a change on British politics.
As Tony Blair put it
Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.
We (and I’m sure others here and elsewhere will) can spend time arguing on whether she was a force for good or bad for the country, but what is inarguable, she changed the country, and not just this country, her influence for good or ill, had effects on lives of Argentinians, South Africans and Eastern Europeans through her opposition to Communism and the signing of The Single European Act.
Would UKIP be doing Â so well today (or even exist) if she hadn’t signed the Single European Act (something she later reportedly regretted)
Would Scotland be having a referendum on Independence in 2014 if her government hadn’t tested the Community Charge/Poll Tax on Scotland in 1989?
Would Kuwait still be occupied by Iraq? She was visiting the first President Bush when Iraq invaded Kuwait and urged him to remove Saddam from Kuwait, and later telling President BushÂ “This is no time to go wobbly, George”
She is also proof that Â past electoral success is no protection from the ruthlessness that the Tory party displays when they conclude their leader is harmful to their electoral chances.
Even the manner of her departure still has ramifications for the Conservative Party. Europe is theÂ fault lineÂ on which the Conservative which periodically tears itself apart over, in the 1997 Conservative Leadership election, when it looked like Ken Clarke was about to win the Leadership, Lady Thatcher intervened and campaigned very publicly for William Hague.
In an era of SPADS and political families, She was the grocer’s daughter from Grantham who had a career before politics, I suspect we will not see someone like her again, which may sadden some, and bring joy to others.