April 9th, 2013 at 07:44am
It is very sad news that Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest leaders of the modern era and probably of all time, has died at the age of 87, although given her recent ill health it is comforting to know that she is now in a better place.
Margaret Thatcher. Image courtesy PerthNow.com.au
I was quite saddened to hear of her passing. It was one of those deaths that I wasn’t entirely sure was real when I first heard the news, and I had to double check as it was quite a shock to the system. It was quite saddening at the time, and has proven somewhat more so as her legacy has had time to settle in.
Maggie was a politician who knew what she believed in, and fought for it. She was the type of politician that we need more of now. She was not the type of person to go in to a meeting with an opponent with the hope of reaching some sort of agreement where both sides got a few things they wanted and a few things they didn’t, but instead went in to fight for her beliefs and try with all her might to block the opposing view, which she saw as being wrong.
“Consensus is the absence of leadership” she once wisely said. She expanded on this by saying “Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner ‘I stand for consensus’?”
She was a lady of conviction, a true leader, and regardless of what you thought of her views, you knew what she stood for and that she would consistently stand for it. She was the very essence of what a politician should be…someone who proudly put her views to the people for their consideration, and acted on those views once elected. She was not a politician who surprised people with “backflips” and broken promises. The word “divisive” has been used by many to describe her in these last few hours, and while this is true, it is true because of consistent views and statements, and not divisive in the manner of so many modern-day politicians who say one thing and do the opposite, while trying to pretend that they are doing exactly as they had promised.
I am a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher’s world view, and the brilliant work she did to bring the British economy and society back from the brink of collapse. She was in power at a great time in world history, and was only strengthened when Ronald Reagan was elected as President of the United States of America. Together, these two great, and now sadly departed, leaders were a beacon of light for hope and prosperity, and helped to vanquish to evil and sorrow of socialism and communism from much of the world. It is a tragedy that leaders since these two have been quite lax in defending people from the slow and steady encroachment of socialism and the growing power of the state.
Of particular importance in the legacy of Margaret Thatcher is the way she ran the Falklands War. Maggie knew something that our leaders during the first and second world wars knew, and that was that when your enemy is ruthless and intent on conquering you, you must fight with everything you have, and not let yourself get wrapped up in bureaucracy and thoughts of “but if we attack them, then we are no better than them”. It is not acts of defence (or acts of offence during a war) which define whether you are better than your enemy, but rather your moral character and the reasons for your actions which define your position in relation to that of your enemy.
As I have reflected on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in the hours since her passing, it has occurred to me that she was not a part of the historical education which occurred during my primary and high school years. Perhaps, in the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s it was too early to judge her full legacy, but to the same extent as a then-recent and highly influential world leader, her part in recent history should have been discussed. Older history is very important, but recent history is critical if one is to understand the current state of the world. World leaders around the time of the two world wars were discussed in some detail, and Gough Whitlam was as well, but the more recent leaders were not discussed much at all. I gather that this was partially due to some attempt to not appear to be imparting political views on students, however given that political views were imparted either accidentally or purposefully anyway, I fail to see how discussing recent political history can really be a problem, and thus it bothers me that many of my generation may have little, if any, detailed knowledge of the legacy of as influential a figure as Margaret Thatcher.
It is my sincere hope that people learn something from the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. Of course I hope that it leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of her ideological views on the importance of liberty and of free markets, but I would be happy if it merely leads to more people, and in particular more politicians, having the courage of their convictions. Let ideas win or lose on their merits, not on the back of trickery and deception; let people be forthright and honest with each other about their views without fearing that they may offend or be offended; And may people be less interested in compromising at the drop of a hat, and be more interested in fighting for what they believe to be right and just.
I hope that this is the lasting impact that Margaret Thatcher has on the world.
There are so many great quotes and videos of this great lady, and we are fortunate that she was in power at a time when video recording and storage of things of public interest was really becoming viable on a mass scale, but there are so many great videos of Margaret Thatcher that it is difficult to choose only one with which to remember her, so I will share a few with you.
This video is my favourite. It is of Margaret Thatcher during her last speech as Prime Minister, in which a question was asked of her by opposing members of parliament, which gave her the opportunity to clearly and concisely display the folly of their socialist views.
From the same session of parliament is this video of Maggie explaining how the Euro (currency) would lead to major problems, not least of which would be the loss of democracy. If only her warnings had been heeded.
And finally, when Ronald Reagan died, Margaret Thatcher, who herself was not in the best of health, recorded a eulogy for President Reagan. Most of what she said about him could equally be applied when looking back at her life.
(There are a few brief video glitches in this clip where some words have, sadly, been lost, for which I apologise profusely)
It is a great loss that the world has suffered in the loss of Margaret Thatcher. I offer her, for her leadership, courage, and vision, the Samuel Salute.
Margaret Thatcher, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013. RIP.