As I have said, there was zero — but zero — interest in Thatcher or her legacy in British academia, politics and journalism when I returned in 2004. And I, a foreigner and not even a party-supporter, felt she had been unfairly treated by her people and her legacy had been nicked by Blair, and something had to be done about it. The hardback came out in 2005…”For my money, this is a book that sets the record straight” said Bartholomew. Thanks. But even he, let aside the rest of the Tories, could not bear to admit it had been created by an Indian.
A review by one James Barthlomew in the Mail on Sunday of July 18, 2005 praised the book handsomely thus:
“Lest we forget what Thatcher did
In France, children are taught that the Battle of Trafalgar was inconclusive and that the British admiral was killed. In Britain, of course, we are told something rather different, that it was one of our greatest naval triumphs.
History is not just a series of facts but an interpretation of them. Quite often there is considerable disagreement. [A new book called ] Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution is a cavalry charge by loyalists in the battle over how her time in office should be seen. It is a bold assertion that the Iron Lady made Britain a better place than it was before.
Yes, she had her flops.
State education probably got worse. Reforms of the NHS were not fundamental enough. Only too late did she seriously turn her attention to the problems caused by welfare benefits. And her impact on the family was not good. During her time, the proportion of children living with two natural and married parents fell from 83 to 68 per cent.
But by bringing together in one place all the things she did, this collection of essays rams home the astonishing scope of what she did achieve. Council tenants were enabled to buy their homes, foreign exchange control was abolished, many state-owned industries including British Telecom and British Airways were privatised, the top tax rate was slashed from 83% to 40%, new laws were created so that landlords could get their property back from tenants (which gave rise to the boom in buy- to-let), foreign students were charged for comimg to British universities, trade unions ceased to be major political forces, the European Union reluctantly gave Britain a big annual rebate, pensioners were given tax relief for health insurance, government spending fell from 45 per cent of the economy to 39 per cent and so on. The list is too long to give in full. As a result, Britain was transformed from being the sick man of Europe to the fastest growing of its major countries. Labour politicians are currently riding the wave of economic success which Margaret Thatcher started in the face of their angry opposition.
It was not only the official opposition that she had to fight. Lord Tebbit, in his essay, describes how Lady Thatcher was a radical up against a large number of upper class patricians in her own party who generally accepted the kind of Britain created by Labour since the war. Her victory over Edward Heath for the leadership was a ‘corporals’ coup’. This conflict between different sides of the party – the ‘accepters’ and the free market radicals – is still going on in the current leadership contest.
The book reminds us what terrific battle she had to go through to make such a difference. She was often going utterly against the consensus, and quite rightly. William Hague tells how he only narrowly squeaked into parliament through a by-election in 1989. He had lost thousands of votes because water privatisation had been so unpopular. He went to Margaret Thatcher and told her – rather recklessly perhaps – that he had met no voter in favour of this policy.
Many politicians would have expressed regret about this. But not her. William Hague reports: “Margaret Thatcher left me in no doubt that the fault of this lay with the voters than than the policy, an insight which was indeed borne out as the privatised industry succeeded and controversy evaporated over subsequent years”.
This was not just another politician just trying to please everybody. She was a woman with a mission to make her country a better place. Thatcher’s rule was an amazing story. For my money, this is a book that sets the record straight. Every Tory should have a copy. It reminds us all what she did and what is still to be done. It stiffens the sinews.”
“For my money, this is a book that sets the record straight” said Bartholomew. Thanks. But even he, let aside the rest of the Tories, could not bear to admit it had been created by an Indian. Revenge for the Battle of Plassey, I have joked…