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THATCHER STATUE
By Paul Goodman

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When a statesman as great as Margaret Thatcher dies, it is inevitable and right to try to describe what that she meant to the party, to the country, to the world – and, in a certain sense, to women.  Others are better suited to that task than I am, so I simply want to write a very brief appreciation of what she meant to me and, perhaps, to many ConservativeHome readers.

To say that I was not a Thatcherite when – and how long ago it seems now – I was a Conservative student, and a new party member, would be an understatement.  But I am not sure that even her admirers then, during the early 1980s, grasped how great she would become – and, in essence, was.  The source of that greatness was a simple but strong sense pf patriotism: she rose each morning not just determined to win elections, (though she was the party's most successful leader in that regard, and we may not see her like again), but to reverse Britain's decline.  I was right then to believe that she made mistakes – though we all do, and they weren't the ones that, in my youthful folly, I thought I'd identified at the time.  But I failed to grasp how unusual, among politicians, this focused dedication to restoring Britain's greatness was.


Those who served with her, and are old now, will write about what she meant for Britain then.  Young people will be asked during the next few days to opine about what she means now.  David Cameron will strive to strike the right tone, and Ed Miliband will be embarrassed by the hate of part of the left for her – though she might have viewed it, in a way, as a kind of compliment.

I'm neither old nor, certainly, young; nor an MP, let alone a party leader – simply a Conservative journalist and campaigner who grew up as a party member during the 1980s, and whose life has been stamped by the mark of our greatest post-war peacetime Prime Minister. " In Auden's poem about the death of Yeats, he writes that the Irish poet "became his admirers".  I think he meant that Yeats came, by virtue of the greatness of his poetry, something greater than himself – that he came to inhabit greatness, as a man inhabits his home.  Yeats's greatness didn't end with his death, and neither will Margaret Thatcher's.  But just as Thatcher, too, "became her admirers", so they, too, became her – or, rather, their lives and views and attitudes became shaped by her, and what she did, to a degree that even they may not see.

And those who were not her admirers, but are of my generation, have been formed by her too, because they grew up with her as Prime Minister.  She is part of their memory of, as another poet wrote, "the strength and pain of being young" – whether they like it or not.  Margaret Thatcher re-made Britain.  And for better or worse, and for what it's worth, she also helped to make me.

Perhaps the only service I gave her in return was to make her laugh – and that only once.  I was Chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students when she addressed its conference in 1983.  It went bananas when she arrived – maniacal applause, whoops of cheering, people all but standing on chairs, that sort of thing.  "It's one of their quiet days," I said.  She laughed.  Maybe she was simply being polite.  But I hope and think she meant it.  Like so many who write for and read ConservativeHome, I honour her memory this afternoon.  For after all, she helped to make this site, too.

He
disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted, – See more at:
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.ELrlz3QQ.dpuf
He
disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted, – See more at:
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.ELrlz3QQ.dpuf
He
disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted, – See more at:
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.ELrlz3QQ.dpuf
He
disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted, – See more at:
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.ELrlz3QQ.dpu

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