A Perfect Dictator

Thatcher_Margaret Thatcher was so absolutely sure of her own righteousness that, had she not been steeped in the now not so universally observed good old British values and sense of what is right and fair, she could easily have been one hell of a tyrannical dictator. She certainly had the makings of one. Even in Britain her steadfastness to her own idea of what was the ‘right thing to do’ was frightening to many, and it was often seen as obsessional. Thank God that, for the most part anyway, she was more often right than wrong and was, well — you know — British to the core!

I was brought up in a working class home and naturally followed my parents who voted Labour, though were not very political. But like many working class folks at that time it was her accent that grated so badly on me, never mind her policies.

In those days, accents were important and indicated your exact position in the social hierarchy. Even though she came from the lower middle class, she affected an accent that was more indicative of a higher class than she was entitled to, and that made her suspect in our eyes. I still cringe when I hear it, even when Meryl Streep tries to emulate it.

Needless to say, in my early years I despised her. I thought her policies were divisive and anti-working class. Interestingly, my prejudice, and I do own that it was a prejudice just like most people’s political judgments, had nothing to do with her being a woman. That never seemed to be an issue with people. She was just the Tory politician we all loved to hate.

Looking back, I am grudging in my revisionist assessment of her as an extraordinary leader of my country. In retrospect, I have to admit that she saved the country from ruin and turned the tide of history in ways that were unimaginable at that time. She was a game changer and the world today is stronger and better in many ways because of her.

She didn’t much care what I thought of her then, and I don’t suppose it makes one bit of difference to her now that I am willing, albeit grudgingly, to take my hat off to her and say, “Good on yer, Maggie. Give ‘em Hell up there too!”

21 thoughts on “A Perfect Dictator

  1. Jaromir Slama

    Dear Collin, you are a grand mister of words. I can´t fully agree with you. For me in a middle Europe was Maggie as a candle in darkness in the years of their governing. And it is maybe only the history of our lives but you can´t know what the Dictator is. You know the word, but not the content in their reality. Certainly my live in central Europe was absolutely different. But neither you nor me knows what the dictators is in reaility. My mother was stending in front of german executioner squad, my oncle was in uran mines for a political joke. That was the times of dictators. Have a nice days and god with you. Jaromir

  2. Tanya

    Oh well, l completely despised her. She called Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’. Which l thought was uncalled for as he was simply fighting against apartheid in his own country. Also when there was conflict in South East Asia, some of the children needed to be evacuated and it was allegedly reported that she sad “…Would you want them in your backyard?” So no evacuation was made to the UK. What a nasty piece of work. Now that she has passed over I wish I couls witness the explanation of her actions to. her Maker. Enough said.

  3. Amanda

    Like you I’ve been fascinated at my own emotional response (mainly hate and disgust at first and then a grudging respect and understanding of this remarkable lady) and all the dormant feelings there are about Mrs Thatcher represented in the media at the moment. I’m left with a feeling that she cared very very deeply about the status and reputation of this Country and believed in personal sacrifice for the good of the whole, ebven if that led to suffering. Personally I don’t believe that is God’s way, I feel he who wants to have a personal relationship with all of us and write morals and ethics in our hearts rather than discipline us into good and loving behaviour. Nevertheless it’s a fascinating watch.


  4. Svetlana

    Dear Collin,I like this women very much,and I will tell you why.It is not because of what she have been done and said, but because she had this I AM RIGHT AND KNOW WHAT I DO stuff .No matter what kind of ideas you have,if you believe in yourself, the other people start to believe too of what you said.But is easy to see if this beliefs she has is for you or not.When the people are not self centerd,they start to think and change their opinion for the others until they go creasy.I like her and I want to be like her,not to be dictator,but to be STRONG and RIGHT for me.I think every person must want the same, this is enough.
    If someone wants to dictate your life, it is not his fault, but yours.You have decide one day that you are not powerful enough and someone else must tell you what to do.It is just a decision.
    Thank you for the letter and the post,wish you all the best.

  5. Bill Redman

    Dear Mr tipping, I found it interesting how backhanded your compliment of Margaret Thatcher was. It is as if someone who is dogmatically committed to freedom is potentially as tyrannical as someone dogmatically committed to tyranny. I guess you love to make oxymoronic statements. As if someone would be more freedom loving if she were not as committed to human liberty. How absurd. Bill Redman.

  6. richard

    none of these polititions, no mater what party they represent work for the common people, but follow the dictates of their true masters, the ultra wealthy. Of cause on another level it is all good for self examination.

  7. Deirdre

    Being an American of Irish decent she has been on my list people to try to forgive. I found her policies regarding the Irish, especially the political prisoners, to be cruel. what first comes to mind is the Hunger Strikers most if not all, of whom met their death for the cause.
    I suppose I could go on and on about that issue, an issue that has followed me to America from generations long past. I do know the Queen has apologized for some of the past and that has ment a lot. But I know it is time to get forgiving once again!

  8. Carolyn J Woodson

    Margaret Thatcher was a dynamo. As an American it was absolutely interesting to watch how she accomplished much for England. What an absolute treasure. At the time she was seen as a very controversial figure. Imagine had she been a man she would have been celebrated at the time. I join Colin in …. “Maggie, give ’em Hell up there too!”

  9. Pollie

    Hey Colin… I know what you mean about that accent!… it sounded so false. I to am from British working class stock and I made a very conscious leap from Labour to Green Party, in the fall out of what I perceived as being let down by Maggie, as a woman with a voice in politics. Even though she was Conservative, I felt very proud of her gender and encouraged when she was first elected, I was hopeful that she would influence Britain from the best of femminine qualities. Alas It did not take long for me to decide that she had in fact traded in her woman hood and was, after all just another man wearing a skirt. Disappointed by her betrayal to the sisterhood, I found relief by laughing along with most of the the country over the years, as her character was made a parody by the many, the best for me was ‘Spitting Image’. What do I think now?… she was a larger than life person that gave the masses an opportunity to judge her and get our feelings and opinions out there… not that I understood that then. I have incredible admiration for her ability to believe in herself and to powerfully take action… she was a formidable role model for women from her generation and ultimately I surmise did help shift awareness. I just wish she has been more womanly doing it… but then she would not have played out her version of an Iron Lady so impeccably.

  10. Gill Carmody

    With you on grudgingly giving her the title of extraordinary leader but won’t forget some of her awfulness:
    – calling Mandela that ‘grubby little terrorist’
    – harbouring Pinochet
    – biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in British history
    – saying ‘there’s no such thing as society’
    and of course, getting rid of free milk in primary schools.

  11. Avtar

    Ms. Thatcher came here to play her part, and to that we can say she suceeded. We honour her courage in completing her part. Ms. Thatcher also existed as a reflection of the beliefs and fears of the many who propelled her into prominance. It is those values which we must now examine as to their worth in carrying us forward to a “Radical” tomorrow. To “succeed” in the mindset and framework of the failing planet is no success. Our “radical” internal understanding, must become our “radical” external manifestation.
    Last week, I wrote these words for the chorus of a new song I am writing. With Ms. Thatcher’s pride in being “iron”, I thought it appropriate comment.
    “Hearts of stone and wills of steel/Minds gone mad within the wheel/Round and round and round and round we go. Plastic cards fill plastic carts/Plastic thoughts fill plastic hearts/Until we drown beneath our waves of greed.

  12. Dinny Evans

    Right on Colin! Love this post and your observations as a Brit! With a bit of fun in your post I can put closure to the life and death of Margaret Thatcher.

  13. Nancy Carroll

    Thank you for your honest appraisal of Margaret Thatcher. I was horrified to see there were those celebrating her death, which seems cruel and heartless to the family and personal friends in mourning. It’s interesting to read your views and revisions on politics. I find myself doing that as well, as I age, with my changing perspectives. And if older people write the history books…what then? Very different story than when they were young!

  14. Julie-Anne Shapiro

    Thank you so much for this Colin. As a fellow Brit I appreciate what you’re saying here. I was too young to understand much of her politics at the time, although I have come to appreciate what she did for our country. What I can say is that she had a HUGE impact on me as a woman. Her strength of character and abilities as a leader as a woman in a man’s world (particularly at that time) were absolutely extraordinary.

    I grew up in a fairly repressed household with religious views on a “woman’s place.” In the midst of that I remember watching Maggie on the television – one woman among so many men. I learned a lot from her. She taught me that anything is possible if you are willing to do what it takes. I believe she will go down as one of history’s most extraordinary women – she is to me. Thank you Margaret Thatcher.

  15. Kurt Pearson


    It is this sort of honest reporting that in my opinion sends a balanced message, by taking ownership of prejudices and honestly giving credit, where credit is due you honor yourself and Mrs. Thatcher. I suppose I had similar feelings, but I also got a twinge seeing a woman in that leadership role, but then leadership is learned and not the sole domain and entitlement of every white male. Perhaps we are not used to seeing women in such powerful roles, but by golly, could you imagine a Sara Palin in that position? Sara, although not a bad sort, was clearly unprepared to hold any office, and now we have Obama, who if he was a she, and white, would have much broader support. We might talk the talk, but deep down we are a racially and culturally divided country, once great, but obviously still working through the bigotry that 150 years ago thrust brother against brother.
    Our differences have always been a call to divide people and groups apart, but it is diversity of the parts that makes humanity as a whole stronger, and our entrenched fear of change will one day be our ruin. The wheels of change as they say grind, but oh, so slowly.

  16. keith p.cooper

    Dear Colin,
    From what I read about Thatcher she was the English,female version of
    Harry Truman.It never occured to me that it might have been possible for her to be a
    dictator.But fortunately she was not.Do you think she wore the pants in her marriage? As far her stroke is concerned see what happens when a person`s cardiovascular system goes down the drain. As you are closer to her than I am being
    that I was born raised and still living in Brooklyn New York.As far as the cardiovascular system is concerned a number of things came to my attention in
    recent years.The American Botanical Pharmarcy`s Herbal Catalog with Master Herb-
    alist Dr.Richard Schulze.Sound Health Options with Sharry Edwards research in
    Bio Acoustics.Their train of thought is they are only after research if you get better
    thats your business!Also author Kevin Trudeau of Natural Cures “They”Want You to
    Know About”.And The Body Code with Dr.Bradley Nelson.Keep in mind that none of
    this information is intended to treat,cure ,prevent or diagnose diease.I also took the
    Hardiness Institute personal Stress survey.
    Keith P.Cooper

  17. Iiris Bjornberg

    I love your writings, Colin! I’m a Finn living in Helsinki and it’s very nice to get a European point of view, too.
    Thank you thank you thank you!
    Much love, iiris

  18. Annie Jury

    I am sorry but I think Margaret Thatcher did untold harm to Britain and the world. With her heavy-handed tactics against the miners, the Irish, single mothers, etc. she set a precedent and a blue-print for others to follow around the world and here in Australia John Howard learned a lot from her and transformed Australia into a much less tolerant and caring country. It is possible that eventually the pendulum will swing back again to a time of more love and acceptance. Hopefully this is starting to happen now with the global resistance to the hideous greed and destruction that big business wreaks on our Earth, but did we really have to allow these people to nearly destroy our planet before anything is attempted? Coudn’t we have skipped the Maggie step altogether?

  19. Ina

    Great farewell Colin. I love this simple yet honest approach that gives a fair play sight at one historical figure, no matter what one might think.She was one strong lady.
    Regards from Zagreb

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