Lady Thatcher Was a Statesman. Blair and Cameron Are Mere Politicians

Blair and Cameron are mere politicians

Cometh the hour cometh the man. (Or woman).

Except it’s not always true, is it?

In 1940 we had Winston Churchill. In 1979 we had Margaret Thatcher. But I’m not sure even the most generous apologists for our current Prime Minister would bracket David Cameron in quite the same category.

What did Mrs Thatcher have that Cameron doesn’t?

For me the essential distinction is that between being a statesman and being a politician. Maggie was the former, Dave is evidently the latter – as, I think was Tony Blair. One of the key differences between the two lies in their attitude to personal popularity. To the politician it matters greatly, for the primary aim of the politician is to gain and maintain power at regardless of what cost to his principles. To the statesman, however, the political process is little more than a necessary evil. What matters to the statesman is striving to do what they believe is right rather than what is merely popular or expedient – even if, as in Maggie’s eventually defenestration by the Tory wets led by Heseltine, this results in being kicked out of office.

Time and again there were moments in Margaret Thatcher’s career when political expediency would have demanded that she soften her position: the time when all those economists wrote so expertly to The Times insisting she revert her supposedly disastrous monetary policy; the time when her cabinet were advising her not to go to war in the Falklands; the time when – ultimately fatally – she chose to face up to Europe rather than go native and cave.

She was proved right every time, of course, while all those who counseled otherwise have been proved oh-so-wrong. But is this because Margaret Thatcher was an intellectual genius blessed with magical insight into correct geopolitical strategy? Of course not. She would, I’m sure, have been horrified at the suggestion. Rather, what she believed in was old-fashioned commonsense. Or, what you might more sophisticatedly call “first principles”. So, for example, if thrift and hard work and self-discipline and honest aspiration work well on a household level, then the likelihood is that they’re going to work on a national level – regardless of what your clever civil servents might be telling you.

The Lady was not for turning because the lady had the courage of her convictions.

Convictions. Remember those, anyone?

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  3. Margaret Thatcher: Climate Sceptic
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