Monday, 8 April 2013


It is not news for me to report that Baroness Thatcher has passed away, nor will I be considered the person who makes the landmark comment about her life, her years as our nation's leader, nor her passing.  That will come from a lot more informed people than me (and more than a fair share of those more ignorant than me).

As someone in their early 40's I have a somewhat cloudy recognition of the time.  Like most young people I suspect, mucking around with my friends was something that took up most of my time.  That said I have recollections of Britain in the 70's and it had a jaded and stagnant feel to it.  I recall seeing the news with union leaders standing on large platforms "balloting" workers for strike action.  Even as a boy, I always questioned how those leaders could tell the majority were up for it on such a rough and ready show of hands.  It all looked a bit contrived and pre determined.  I also recall seeing the Green Goddess fire engines flying past the end of our street during that strike too and I also remember endless images of men standing around oil drums with a fire on the go in them.  Britain generally felt a bit on its knees even to my young and uninformed eyes.

So I am going to find the next few days and possibly weeks amusing as those young bucks who weren't even a twinkle in their father's eyes during her premiership, pouring forth on Margaret Thatcher as though they were right there.  They'll even probably refer to her as "Fatcher" with the accompanying flecks of spit in the corner of their mouths.

Baroness Thatcher certainly provokes a range of reactions and it is the same when assessing her legacy.  For my own view, like most politicians there was probably both good and bad policy decisions.  That said, she was a leader and probably one of the last of her kind.  Whilst not everyone got what they wanted when Margaret Thatcher came to power, they certainly got what they needed.  They got someone with enough steel to attempt to drag Britain from it's knees who was willing to get in the faces of self absorbed demagogues who took the country on strike at the drop of a hat. 

Whatever you think of him, Jeremy Clarkson was right when he suggested that during the 70's the only thing the British car industry was any good at was a fire in an oil drum.

Margaret That also provokes repeated mantras, particularly from her opponents.  They say she destroyed British manufacturing.  Maybe there where things she did and decisions she made that had a hand in it, but I can't help but think some of her most vociferous opponents, played their own significant role in such a demise. 

They also like to say she ushered in the me, me, me generation and it's here I would probably like to draw it to a close. 

Their evidence is her famous quote of "there's no such thing as society".  Next time you here someone come out with it as evidence, ask them if they can give the full quote.  I suspect many of them can't because it's been deliberately framed as being nothing more than that.  It is in fact, quite different and forms part of a wider interview she gave to Woman's Own magazine in 1987 and it goes like this:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

Doesn't look much like someone ushering in a me, me me society.  Looks more like someone trying to put an end to a me, me, me society that was enabled by something or someone that had taken that earned by working people to give to others that thought they were owed.

Let's take another look:

It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

All I ask is that if you hear the pared down version of the quote, you politely correct the person involved and ask them what they could find offensive in standing up for the working man as the quote so clearly does. 

You might enlighten some, but I suspect that most are so wedded to their hatred of her that it will change nothing. 

Still you will have some fun listening to them spluttering some right old cobblers as they try to prove you wrong.


  1. Now I wouldn't have taken you for that age - maybe it is the wisdom. :)

  2. Yes, I often get cross when people take "No such thing as society" out of context.

    The Duke of Wellington had a subsequent bad press from lefties for describing the British soldiery as "the scum of the earth" .The full context was that somebody had asked him to compare the British and French armies.
    In the language of his day he contrasted the French army, enlisted by conscription from all ranks of society and went on quite factually "Whereas we take the scum of the earth, enlisted for drink" but went on "Yet have made it the finest instrument of policy in Europe".