May 8, 2002


Like love to hatred turned : Lady Thatcher's fiery anti-Europeanism has turned her new book from a stately memoir into a polemic (The Economist, Mar 28th 2002)
Lady Thatcher has not hidden her mounting revulsion for Europe during the last decade, but the extent of her current apostasy is breathtaking. This is, after all, someone who was happy to serve in Ted Heath's cabinet when the arch-Europhile negotiated the terms of Britain's entry into the then EEC, who, as prime minister, appointed a succession of Euro-enthusiastic foreign secretaries, signed up to the Single European Act in 1986 and who, during her last weeks in power, took sterling into the exchange-rate mechanism.

The former premier feels so terrible about all this that she devotes about 100 pages to explaining how she could have got it so horribly wrong and why there is no hope for Britain unless a future Conservative government has the courage to pull out of a project that is not only doomed but fundamentally hostile to Britain's national interest. Much of what she has to say relies quite recklessly on half-truths. The opening paragraph of the chapter entitled "Europe-Dreams and Nightmares" states: "During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or another, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it." Yet the Common Market was an intended solution to those very problems.

Her reason for why her government signed the 1986 act she now regards as worthless-which substantially deepened integration in the cause of establishing a barrier-free internal market-is that she was duped by her ministers and the conniving Europeans. "We can see that any concessions which Britain makes or initiatives which she promotes in Europe are always eventually turned against her and against the original intention," she says. [...]

There is an element of tragedy in all of this. It is tragic that a great prime minister feels such disgust for much that her government did. It is equally tragic in the eyes of many who admired her achievements in office that she is in danger of becoming like one of those deranged people who shuffle along the street shouting angrily at everything around them while passers-by turn away in embarrassment. No doubt she will continue to vent her fury in print. That she will no longer occupy a public stage should, however, be a relief both to the party and to anyone who cares for her reputation.

Gosh, she sounds just like the formerly powerful Winston Churchill warning a disinterested nation of the dangers of Nazism in the 1930s. Of course, no one listened to his deranged mutterings either. Yet, his reputation seems to have survived quite nicely. One suspects she'll come to be seen as equally prescient. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 8, 2002 5:57 PM
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