The Outlaw Special: The Thatcher Years
The Outlaw was a qualified fan of Mrs T but in his customary brutal analysis is also mindful that she was a polarising force that lacked charm and personality.
By far her most illustrious achievement was bringing an end to the Trotsky-ite behaviour of union bosses who were wrecking this country under a limp-fisted Labour government.
Folk might think that times are tough now but the late 70s saw some real despair across Britain and we were indeed the sick man of Europe.
In our sector, the deregulation of the City now makes London the commercial envy of every major economic power and to blame her for the recent regulatory oversights and financial scandals is completely disingenuous. Far from it. Had Maggie been in power this past 10 years does anyone really think that a very prudent grocer´s daughter would have allowed the likes of Goodwin, Crosby and Hornby to wreak the destruction they did? And furthermore, our pathetic sleep-walking Regulator would have been held to far greater account.
Right To Buy gets alot of headlines for Maggie and indeed it was groundbreaking. But it was short-sighted in so far as the proceeds (unlike today) should have then gone back into further inner-city regeneration.
The Falklands is covered below and The Outlaw is less excitable on this one. Away from politics, the woman was clearly not the wicked ogre that the lazy left have painted her. There have been countless anecdotes in recent weeks recounting her maternal side and as broadcaster Terry Wogan recalls, she remains the only PM that ever supported Children In Need. That is not a glib point.
What perhaps marginalised people was not necessarily her policies (like today, most people knew that tough decisions were needed then) but her style and manner. She lacked personality and when she did try to be more attractive it frequently backfired. Her collaborations with Gorbachev and Reagan were indeed statesmanlike and produced results. But the poorly thought out lines such as “you ain’t seen nothing yet” and then her appearance on stage within a spoof of Yes Minister revealed someone who actually wasn’t in touch with the common mood.
The result spurned her sense of hubris and, to be honest, arrogance at times. The dying embers of her reign were like watching a car wreck in slow motion, though she was at least correct in assessing that prat John Major as “Captain of the B team”.
Some commentators cite her post-Hillsborough and Heysel approaches as a feat, bringing in all-seater stadia etc. The Outlaw however takes the view that this was a wholly knee-jerk reaction. She effectively misunderstood the role of sport in society and did little to fight the banning of English clubs from Europe when they were at their zenith and this formed part of her disconnect with so many.
The Outlaw is also a touch undecided about her parenting skills. Neither Mark nor Carol Thatcher come across as likeable siblings and indeed the former has to be one of the most disappointing adverts for Englishmen abroad, let alone rally car drivers.
What’s become boring about the whole Maggie saga is the way that the professional protestors in society have behaved since she died… why weren’t these people making their point before then? Ed Miliband is a foppish fool that Maggie would have swatted at the despatch box with ease and if he isn’t careful he´ll see the “party” he leads become nothing more than a fashionable protest party.
The Falklands story is also somewhat tired. It took 74 days because it was David versus Goliath, let’s be honest. And whilst it might have reignited her fortunes, a closer inspection reveals that what really won the subsequent election was the under-reported fact that Britain was becoming prosperous again.
The Outlaw also doesn’t have Maggie down as a great orator. She actually could be quite grating on the ear and there was definitely something of the “mother-in -law I´d love to thump” about her.
Maggie´s poor judgement on how to present herself let her down most in the wake of the Belgrano being sunk. Can you imagine any modern day leader using the words “Rejoice. Rejoice”? She was a creature that dealt only in binary issues or primary colours. Her stand against the IRA almost saw her pay the ultimate price and whilst it was the rightful position, she patronised and condescended the Irish and lacked the creativity that later saw the likes of Mo Mowlem secure better results there.
In summary however, MT was truly one of our greatest leaders and as much as Churchill had his strengths, perfectly exhibited in times of war, hers were equally magnified in times of domestic need and especially when difficult decisions needed making.
Cameron should well take her advice and be less worried about being unpopular. Just get on with doing the right thing David…