Thursday, 18 April 2013

The hypocrisy of the Conservative Party towards Lady Thatcher

Yesterday we saw a state sponsored funeral for Lady Thatcher, Britains first female Prime Minister. Whatever you may or may not think of Thatcher, she certainly provoked a strong reaction. What has truly amazed me is the sheer hypocricy of the Conservative Party towards Thatcher and her legacy.

I was reminded of this yesterday in Mill Hill Broadway by a chap I've known for years, who was a staunch supporter of Thatcher. In 1997 I got into a conversation with him in Mill Hill Broadway whilst doing some campaigning for Labour. At the time he told me he would be voting for Tony Blair. He said he would never forgive the Tories for "stabbing Thatcher in the back". Thatcher won three elections for the Tories. What did she get for her troubles? She got dumped when the going got tough. Whilst the membership of the Conservative Party still loved her, the people who run the show knifed her in the back for their own reasons. In doing so, they nearly destroyed the Tory Party.

I was reminded of this. My acquaintance suggested that Blair was probably the only politician of the time who genuinely recognised Thatchers achievements. Blair honoured Thatcher and sought her counsel. It has only been recently that Tories have dared resurrect her image. Now they are nailing the Thatcherite mascot to their mast. For the past 23 years, the talk has been of "detoxifying the Tory brand". This really meant dumping Thatcherism and nailing the lid down on her legacy. Cameron came to power as a "moderniser". In truth this meant someone who had no association with the Thatcher era.

It is odd to think that Blair saw huge electoral advantage in cosying up to Thatcherism (and won three elections) whilst the Tories dumped it and have struggled ever since. What is fascinating is to see how two faced the Tory Establishment have suddenly rediscovered their love of the ghost they've spent 23 years trying to bury. It is odd to think that despite all of the eulogies, the Conservative Party is probably the one place where Thatcherism has been dead for years. One must wonder what she made of Cameron leaping under the duvet with Clegg. I can't ever imagine Thatcher snuggling up to Jeremy Thorpe.

At the end of the day, I think the reason is that, whatever you thought of Thatcher, she was probably a tad more attached to her principles than the current lot.


Morris Hickey said...

Cameron will never be a Thatcherite for so long as he has an orifice in his backside.

Sadly, Rog, I agree with every word you have said on this post. For me the two biggest hypocrites I saw on my TV yesterday were those who pushed the knife into her back - Howe and Hesletine, who had the temerity to attend the funeral.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

You are right to point out that Lady Thatcher remained hugely popular with party members, long after she was ousted from power. She was also very popular with non party members as well, of all political persuasions. There is no doubt that she was loathed by many - but these were a highly vocal minority compared to the numbers who voted for her at three General Elections.

The proof of her influence is the fact that we have been debating the merits, or otherwise, of Thatcherism ever since she left office 23 years ago. That hasn’t happened with any other British political leader in modern times.

It is nauseating to see certain political figures now trying to attach themselves to the Thatcherism bandwagon especially, as you point out, as there was a concerted effort by some (David Cameron and Theresa May to name but two) to “detoxify” the Tory brand. The use of this word (and Theresa May’s ill advised ‘nasty party’ comment) was deeply offensive to many natural Conservatives who did not think that the brand had become toxic. However, if her passing means that we will soon see a return to Thatcherite principles of government, then so much the better.

Even Lady Thatcher’s most ardent supporters would agree that she did make some mistakes in office - the politician who never makes a mistake has not yet been born. But on the big issues, such as defence of the realm and Europe, she was absolutely right. She believed in freedom and the power of the individual over the power of the state, and it is to our eternal shame that we are sleepwalking into totalitarianism, both at home and in Europe.

You refer to a state sponsored funeral, and in another posting go as far as to suggest that this was a ploy by Cameron to boost his party’s fortunes. You credit him with too much intelligence. The funeral plans were originally drawn up by Prime Minister Blair and then ratified by Prime Minister Brown. The undeniable truth is that Lady Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in what is still, regrettably, a male dominated profession. Her achievement in reaching such high office is worthy of formal recognition. Factions on the left may loathe and detest everything she stood for, but much larger numbers admired and respected her and, even in these austere times, only a minority would deny her a fitting send off. If we do not honour truly great leaders, then we should not be surprised when only second rate candidates are prepared to stand for office in future.