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In an article that will no doubt meet approval with those in Team Cameron that he is close to, Bruce Anderson thanks God for Lady Thatcher being there at the right place and time to defeat defeatism and socialism. After that preface, however, he goes on to attack Thatcher-loving Tories for slowing Cameron’s progress:

"The Tories who adore her have conferred mythic status upon her. In so
doing they forget that, like all great leaders, she owed her success to
a fusion of ability, force of personality, and the fortune of
circumstances. In 1979, she was not only the right leader. She was the
only leader, just like Churchill in 1940."

"…David Cameron recognises the challenges. He will rise to them. But he
is not maximising his opportunities in the opinion polls, partly
because so many natural Tories are so dazzled by the Thatcherite
heritage that their eyes cannot see clearly and their brains cannot
work properly."

Margaret_thatcher_2

One of the main reasons people hearken back to both her and Churchill, particularly since
New Labour came to power, is that they weren’t afraid to take strong decisions that were right but not always
expedient. People are crying out for real leadership in the current cynical yet consensual political environment. In the words of Churchill:

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

Anderson doesn’t quite say that Cameron is equally the only leader of our time, but he does list a number of big challenges for him that he believes Thatcher wouldn’t have been suited to tackling:

  • Stopping a federalist Europe (she "hated it too much to negotiate effectively")
  • Reforming public services (her dislike of them would have prevented her having a "programme or radical reform")
  • Environmental protection (voters wouldn’t have trusted her to build nuclear power, "the only sensible answer to the environment")
  • Protecting the Union ("the Scots disliked her too much to listen. The Scots were wrong. These days, they usually are")

I’m not sure the comparison completely works, who knows how the Thatcher of the 80s would have responded to the 21st century? There’s no doubt that she was for her time, but Thatcherism still has some lessons for today. We can and should shift our focus from individualism to social responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that tax cuts and a stronger military aren’t needed, for example…

Deputy Editor

78 comments for: “What if Thatcher led the Tory party today?”

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