Every Conservative leader since 1990 has had to tread carefully in his relationship with the greatest peacetime Prime Minister of modern times. We should, however, now be mature enough to define a conservatism for today that isn’t understood as a repudiation of her extraordinary achievements.
America’s Republicans have something of the same problem with Ronald Reagan. The Heritage Foundation even ran a What Would Reagan Do? series – modelled on the What Would Jesus Do? campaign that many Christian use as a life compass.
In her memoirs Margaret Thatcher expressed regret that she ran out of time to undertake ‘Social Thatcherism’ – a programme for renewal of family life and action against crime. If she had stayed in office her policy priorities would have evolved and I think she would approve of a great deal of David Cameron’s ‘social responsibility’ agenda. A full three decades after Margaret Thatcher first entered Downing Street it isn’t just reasonable for Mr Cameron to update the Conservative agenda – it is absolutely essential.