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.
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.