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!”