‘Iron Lady’ is worth emulating

Much has been written and said about the life and times of Margaret Thatcher. I was especially pleased to read Gwynne Dyer’s balanced article “The Iron Lady’s lasting legacy” and George Will’s complimentary “Margaret Thatcher buoyed by vigorous virtues,” both published April 11 in The Japan Times print edition.

I am of the generation that lived and worked in England before, during and after her three administrations. I experienced the chaos of our “winter of discontent” in 1978-79 under the Labour government of James Callaghan.

I experienced the feeling of our cherished democracy being attacked and wounded by the power of the unions and the extreme left and, like most of “middle England,” I began to feel despair that our great nation might be irreparably damaged and would continue ad infinitum to be the “sick man of Europe.”

But, no. We had our own “Arab Spring” on Thatcher’s election in 1979. It came as a breath of fresh air amid the stench of streets filled with rubbish and our dead unburied! It brought us hope and confidence for a future in which we could be “great” again, and I for one compared it to the heady days of John F. Kennedy’s arrival at the White House in 1961.

That hope and confidence were fulfilled by this wonderful leader, and despite her faults and missteps along the way, I followed her faithfully and now, with gratitude, applaud her legacy in my country as well as in the world.

She did indeed, as British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “save our country.” I will never forget her.

I was heartened to read that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has “identified with her because she was a politician who pulled her country out of a longtime economic slump.” It is understandable that he should try to emulate her achievements for the good of Japan, but I advise him to read her memoirs, “The Downing Street Years,” to fully grasp her own brand of conservatism that later became known as Thatcherism.

Abe should note that, despite her love and her stalwart defense of her country, she never, ever, attempted to rewrite or deface history with lies and deceit. For example, she never sought to influence the authors and publishers of school textbooks, as that would have been anathema to her view of democracy.

Yes, Abe should try to follow in her footsteps, but he must be careful not to stray too far off her path.

Japan urgently needs such a leader as Margaret Thatcher, but I doubt there is such an honest, selfless, patriotic, intelligent, forceful, courageous, charismatic and forward-looking politician among us. Maybe there is a shopkeeper’s daughter somewhere.

paul gaysford
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

    If Abe ‘strayed’ from her religious conviction, that would be an entirely desirable result for a philosophy based on dogma is just context-dropping conservatism. Japanese people are suffering in silence. Suicide is just a symptom; there is a far larger constituency of ‘living dead’ seeking reward and opportunity in this stagnant economy. They would dearly like Abe not to so wastefully ‘stimulate’ the economy as in times past.

  • Sasori San

    I too am of the generation that “that lived and worked” in WALES (coal mines,steelworks and papermills..gone,gone,gone) “before, during and after her three administrations. I experienced the chaos of our “winter of discontent”, in 1978-79 under the Labour government of James Callaghan”.The streets were NOT filled with rubbish,(especially in ‘middle england’) and the dead were most certainly not unburied!! The only people who benefited from Thatchers reign of terror were the ‘few’ (44% of the electorate) in ‘middle England’.Never mind the majority in the rest of England,or indeed Scotland,Ireland or Wales.Great Britain in 1979 ranked 5th in the world of GDP,we are now relegated to 7th in the world…….behind Brazil!! After 3 years in office,and with 3.000.000 unemployed the Conservative party were trailing behind the Labour & newly formed SDP parties,until the Falklands war.The defence cuts of 1981 recomended removing the Falkland Islands patrol ship ‘Endurance’ to save money,and the Falkland Islanders were not eligible for British citizenship.That’s what Margaret Thatcher thought of the Falkland Islands, jingoism in all it’s glory,her Winston Churchill moment,fighting a war that looked good on the telly . As for never attempting to “rewrite or deface history with lies and deceit”, she had the tabloid press to do that .This was the woman who called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” and said that the ANC could never govern South Africa.Her public image was of ‘non negotiation’ with terrorists and dictators, yet secretly, as Gerry Adams recently said at the news of her death, “she was in talks with us (the IRA)”. She did not, as David Cameron said “save our country”, she sold it off to people who could afford it, quite ironic in fact that it was the Conservative party,not the public who ousted her from power,arrogance and megalomania is not democracy,people were murdered in ancient Rome for voicing their opinion,Thatcher just fired them.London is the 5th richest city in the world and the richest city in europe, and yet the majority of the people who live there are no better off than those in the rest of the UK.The borough of Brixton in London,the location of one of the many ‘inner city riots’ of 1981,33 years ago, was one of the first places in the UK to CELEBRATE her death,along with the millions of other ‘ordinary’ people, an unprecedented event anywhere in the world, yes, she’s up there with the likes of Gadaffi,Bin laden,Hussein and Pinochet.If celebrating her death is deemed to be distasteful, as it probably is by the majority of Thatcher supporters, I’d like to take this opportunity to quote the SUN newspapers front page headline from 1982, re the Falklands war and the sinking of the Argentinian ship the ‘General Belgrano’ and the loss of 323 lives.”GOTCHA!!”.Yes Mr.Gaysford,I can see where you’re coming from, you and your ilk may have done quite well out of Margaret Thatchers policies,jingoisticly waving your ‘made in China’ Union Jacks whilst living in Japan.Japan needs a Margaret Thatcher as much as they need a Chinese Prime Minister.The number one song in the UK,”The witch is dead”..GOTCHA!!

    • timthesocialist

      Bravo sir. Bravo.

    • Robert Murphy

      The depth of hatred and anger against Margaret Thatcher after all these years is partly a result of her success, violently achieved, in “killing Socialism” (her expression), and making people feel that there is no democratic way of escaping from the Thatcherite straitjacket, maintained for 34 years now, and 23 years after her own party stabbed her in the back and ousted her; many of those people are weeping buckets of crocodile tears while denouncing the statements and actions of her opponents. For an articulate speech concerning why she still arouses such passion in her opponents, we could do no better than listen to former Oscar-winning actress and Labour MP, Glenda Jackson, against a baying group of Conservative members trying, unsuccessfully, to shout her down. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/04/video-glenda-jackson-savages-thatcher