Monday, May 04, 2009

30 year anniversary of Mrs. Thatcher's 1979 victory

Thirty years ago today the mould of post-war politics was broken by a determined leader who was determined to squarely face the problems afflicting our country. She didn't weasel; she didn't pretend that some seemingly intractable problems had a compromise solution. Instead, she showed courage and leadership when her country needed it, and bequeathed to us a State better in every way from the one she took over. I remember when she stepped down; the BBC ran a whole series of packages trying to talk up her perceived demerits. It was mean-spirited then, and more importantly lacked any kind of perspective or historical rigour in analysing exactly what she did achieve. Now more time has passed, and more crucially New Labour has been shown to be a hollow shell based on economic incompetence, her work is getting the sort of critical review that it needs. It is ironic that with the nation in crisis, people are now willing to reach back to her accession and understand what it means to become Prime Minister when the previous administration has failed the country.

From the 1979 election time coverage, which ran on the BBC Parliament channel, one thing does stand out. Because Mrs. Thatcher only ended up with a majority of 44 a great many of the talking heads did not think that translated into a mandate for fundamental change. They also didn't think she could bring it about in practical terms with such a majority. Wind forward to 2010, we will need fundamental change. David Cameron will need a mandate and the majority to make it happen. How much does he need? Single digits probably won't be enough.

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