Published:


DBDonal
Blaney is Chief Executive of Conservative
Way Forward
and of the Margaret
Thatcher Library & Museum project
.

“A monument to her greatness”, proclaims The Sunday Telegraph in its lead story
this morning, on Conservative Way Forward’s plans for the Margaret Thatcher
Library & Museum.

The twin inspirations behind the Library
& Museum are both in California. In 2002 I first visited Ronald Reagan’s
beloved home in the mountains above Santa Barbara, Rancho del Cielo. Young
America’s Foundation’s visionary President, Ron Robinson, had gambled and saved
the Reagan Ranch for the nation in 1998. He then had the foresight to build and
develop the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara itself – a “schoolhouse for
Reaganism” that fuses teaching facilities, educational exhibits and artefacts
to teach young people about the remarkable life and presidency of Ronald
Reagan.

It was in 2007 that I first visited the
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, Reagan’s last
resting place and a location with sweeping views across the valley to the West.
Through a range of innovative exhibits, the Reagan Library tells the story of
President Reagan’s life in an electrifying way. Both facilities ensure that you
get to understand Reagan the Man as well as Reagan the President.


By May 2009 it had become clear to me that
we needed something similar to protect the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and to
teach future generations about her life, values and achievements. The Margaret
Thatcher Library & Museum was conceived.

I was and remain mindful that this project
will be the first of its kind in Britain, but that should not phase any of us.
Margaret Thatcher herself, after all, was the first of her kind too. And while
honouring the legacies of Prime Ministers does not happen with the regularity
of Americans’ honouring of Presidents, the lives of a number of British Prime
Ministers have indeed been honoured publicly over the centuries.

The Margaret Thatcher Library & Museum
was personally backed by Lady Thatcher as she fondly recalled the work done by
Swinton College, the Conservative Party’s training college, before it closed in
the 1970s. The project has been proudly endorsed by a number of her closest
advisers and former colleagues including Cecil Parkinson, Norman Tebbit, Eric
Pickles, Liam Fox, Patrick McLoughlin, David Jones, Howard Flight, Sir Gerald
Howarth and Conor Burns.

The Library & Museum will contain
gifted and loaned artefacts from the Thatcher era together with a
state-of-the-art education centre and exhibit gallery. It will be the defining
legacy project in her memory.

Its primary focus will be on scholars,
students and the general public from Britain and around the world (with a
particular focus on the United States, the Commonwealth and Central &
Eastern Europe). A series of programmes, conferences, lectures and workshops will
explore Lady Thatcher’s legacy from a variety of angles. Indeed this is
critical for the success of the project as a whole.

The Margaret Thatcher Library & Museum
will not be a saccharine whitewashing of history. Its credibility as a centre
of learning will rightly depend on all aspects of her legacy being open to
examination. We will welcome contributors, exhibits and visitors from among
those who continue to oppose her achievements or who believe that she was not
the saviour of our nation and, as David Cameron said, “the patriot Prime
Minister”.

As we prepare to remember Lady Thatcher’s
truly remarkable life and achievements this week, the announcement of the
creation of the Margaret Thatcher Library & Museum will help to give her
supporters a lasting legacy project around which to coalesce. As its Chief
Executive, I very much hope you will give it your fullest support and I will
look forward personally to welcoming you through its doors in due course.

She delivered. Now it’s our turn.

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