April 30, 2003

THERE WERE GIANTS IN THE LAND

Lady Thatcher, the video star (Mark Davies, 4/30/03, BBC)
This probably wasn't what the doctors had in mind. Lurking in the shadows stage left, clutching her handbag close to her as ever, Lady Thatcher prepared to make her entrance.

The former prime minister is, of course, under orders from her physicians never to speak in public again.

Perhaps they forgot to add: "Oh yes, and no appearances before capacity crowds at one of London's most prestigious venues."

We were at the Royal Albert Hall to see the living legend in the flesh, to hear words of wisdom, to be awed by astonishing commitment and remarkable achievements.

And after Sir Steve Redgrave had finished, we were to be granted a few moments of Lady Thatcher's time. [...]

The interview was, we were told, her first for two years. And, said proud interviewer Andrew Main Wilson, the institute's chief operating officer, it might even be the last she ever grants. [...]

In essence, Lady Thatcher's message was that she'd duffed up the unions big style, saved Britain from the socialist plague, won a war and transformed the economy.

There was classic Thatcher too. The miners' strike - that "last gasp of militancy" - had been a victory, she said. Mr Blair and the Labour Party sound too much like us

And then she lowered her voice in the way she does when she really wants to stress her point: "You could say that by the end of it the extremists had lost. But I prefer to say that ... Britain ... had ...won."

As for Tony Blair, he won brickbats and bouquets. His handling of the war, for instance, was top notch.

He understands business too, she suggested.

But his wider philosophy took a drubbing. You can't have a "middle way" - Tony prefers to call it the third way, but we all knew what she was talking about - between capitalism and socialism, she said.

And as for those people who flounder around scratching their heads wondering "what works", well really....

"I have always known what works - free enterprise works, limited government works, encouraging initiative and responsibility works," she said.

It's all OK, though, because Tony Blair is pretty much following her creed.

Indeed, the transformation of the economy by her government had also transformed Labour, she said. On that, many Labour supporters will agree and you don't come across that sort of alliance very often.

"Indeed, that has been a bit of a problem for the Conservatives - Mr Blair and the Labour Party sound too much like us," she said.

But the danger within is still lurking, Lady Thatcher warned, citing "irresponsible" policies of tax and spend as showing Labour's true colours.

Public spending is growing too fast, taxes are being raised, Gordon Brown's forecasts are dubious.

Trade unions are finding their feet again, Europe is imposing red tape. As for the euro, joining would only make matters worse.

"This does not signal a wholesale return to the 1970s, but it does mean that Britain is now moving in the wrong direction towards the failed European model and high spending, high taxing and high regulation," she told Mr Main Wilson.

"So I am very concerned for the country's future if those trends continue."

That said, she didn't think the government would take the plunge and recommend euro membership.

Good to see she too thinks Tony Blair her protege. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2003 8:01 PM
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