Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I arrived in England in 1979 just before the Winter of Discontent. I wasn't really paying attention to the strikes or much else. Everything was foreign at Oxford. I had no friends in that alien place until some Northerners took me in. They were enthusiastic about this new woman, Margaret Thatcher. Over the next two years, she broke the unions and began much else. I didn't know what to think. I was still wobbly back then. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and accounts of atrocities appeared in the press. I had begun my long, or well, actually, rather quick progress toward the right.
Margaret Thatcher was everything people are saying about her and more. It's harder to stand up for what she stood up for Britain than it is here. Reagan was naturally popular and still is, so much so that even our young President tries to associate himself with him. Thatcher had to stand up in the teeth of a gale of nearly eighty years of socialism. It was the factories of the industrial north that Engels described while Marx labored in the British Museum. She was on the front lines in a way Reagan was not. She will never be forgiven for saving Britain from what seemed inevitable.
It goes without saying that we could use a Margaret Thatcher now. There's little point in contrasting the chronic mendacity of our current leader with her steely truth-telling or her political courage with our current data-driven pandering. We can only hope.