I’ve been trying to avoid all the wall-to-wall media frenzy following Lady Thatcher’s death.It’s obviously impossible to do so… but, don’t worry, I’m NOT going to list all my pet grievances (or even one or two positives) about the woman!
However, I have been reflecting on the hugely differing political legacies that war provided for both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
Mrs T decided to embark on the Falkland’s War in 1982 when her popularity was at an all-time low. I opposed the war. To this day, I maintain that it was nothing more than jingoistic opportunity to re-assert illusions of the “old empire”. Despite the problems of fighting a war such a long way from home (and the strong opposition from the US), there was never any real chance of Britain “losing”. I absolutely hated the whole affair.
Sadly, I was in a minority.
Incredibly (to me), the public at large lapped it up. Mrs T’s popularity soared and she went on to win a resounding victory at the next general Election in 1983. I personally found the entire business completely sickening but, for many people, the “Falkland’s Factor” was the political making of Mrs Thatcher.
In contrast, Blair’s legacy of the Iraq War in 2003 (alongside Bush junior) is almost entirely negative - certainly from a UK viewpoint at least. The comparatively slow build-up - with Saddam being given warnings about all those “Weapons of Mass Destruction” - gave the British public time to voice their opinions (eg. a million people, including me, took to London’s streets in the largest political demonstration in the city’s history). Although he went on to win a third general election victory in 2005, his majority was much-reduced majority and he was severely tainted.
People never quite trusted the man after that (and I don't really blame them).
With arrangements being made for Lady Thatcher’s “ceremonial” funeral – with full military honours, would you believe(!) – next Wednesday, I think the Tories will be loving all the attention their beloved former leader will have given them over the next week or so: parliament is being recalled (ridiculously in my opinion – although one might question why they’re in recess at all?) so it can “show its respect”; on the day of her funeral, streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin processed from Westminster to St Paul’s Cathedral.
It’ll be rather like a non-stop party political broadcast for them.
Call me when it's all over!