One reason why Thatcherites like me respected Ian Gilmour, who died last week, was because he had the integrity to stick to his principles, whatever the consequences.Simon thinks that he is a Thatcherite, this is precious. She was an arch-pragmatist when it came to doing good by her country, and while she certainly came at politics from the Right, she never let herself get stranded there just because of dogma. Let us look at her record against Simon's rhetoric: he wants immediate across the board tax cuts, whereas she was unafraid to put taxes up if that was what the economy demanded. She avoided foreign wars, fighting just the Falklands that was forced on her, where Simon is casual about advocating the use of military force. She expanded property-owning to all classes, giving many families their first real capital stake in the country, whereas Simon thinks the poor should basically stay poor. As for sticking to your principles 'whatever the consequences', that is a useful working definition of insanity. Keynes said 'when the facts change I change my mind', which is what most normal people do. Mugabe is sticking to his principles and the consequences are children staving to death. Integrity is not always admirable, but we now have a clue on what makes Simon tick. There must be a great comfort in viewing the world through an unchanging prism of certainty; it is the sort of reassurance the great religions, or Marxism, can provide, but it has nothing to do with the practical politics that actually makes people's lives better.
This week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad explained that his actions were driven by a firm belief in the return of the Islam's 12th Imam. He seemed quite determined. I bet Simon is a fan.