A Toast to Lady Thatcher
By John Blundell, given November 13, 2013, at the Atlas Liberty Forum
This is a toast to Lady T.
I am wearing this Union Jack jacket with great pride and quite deliberately as it was a Union Jack which draped Margaret’s coffin on April 17th when we attended St. Paul’s cathedral for her funeral as guests of the family – not of the state, I hasten to point out.
The greatest moment that day was when the coffin exited the west door and a huge spontaneous cheer came from outside and wafted through the entire cathedral.
Those pinkos – I’m being polite – at the BBC (as in “big bunch of communists”) of course had to excavate all kinds of skeletons and malcontents.
But all we heard on the hill up to the cathedral and on the way to the guildhall for the reception was applause, genuine applause. I saw not one malcontent.
Margaret made three great leaps:
- From provincial, small town, grocer’s daughter to studying chemistry at Oxford – that was huge, the biggest;
- The second was to become an MP (against mostly female opposition); and finally
- To move from shadow cabinet to leader of the opposition to Prime Minister.
And as PM:
- She privatized the commanding heights of the economy and started a worldwide trend;
- She took on the unions and reformed them;
- She taught us the need for monetary continence;
- She sold off millions of units of public housing to their tenants;
- She cut debts and deficits;
- She slashed marginal tax rates from 98% to 40%;
- She changed the nation’s view of how the economy should be run;
- She forced the labour party to modernize;
- She made the Brits walk tall again with a rule of law based approach to foreign relations;
- She helped change South Africa, Russia and China;
- And, with the President and the Pope, she tore down that wall and destroyed an evil empire without firing a shot.
- We jumped from 19th to 2nd in the OECD;
- Self-employment doubled;
- Venture capital exploded;
- The middle class soared;
- Home ownership rocketed;
- Share ownership went orbital from 6% of us to 30%;
- Days lost to strikes plummeted from tens of millions to half a million;
- And trade union membership fell from over 50% to under 20%;
- While press coverage of business soared, as we were now (1) self employed, (2) owners of houses, and (3) buyers of shares.
- A strong moral compass;
- Spoke plainly;
- Led and expected hard work;
- Went with the grain of human nature;
- Was ahead on strategy;
- Promoted smart folk;
- Used the sense we were “in the last chance saloon”;
- Worked with allies;
- Prepared better than anybody; and
- Did not try to do it all at once.
Lady T – folks, get your glasses ready.
- She was marvelous;
- She was totally wonderful;
- We loved her more than you can believe;
- As Hayek said when he met her: “But she is so beautiful.”
- Beauty and brains; with
- Tenacity and truth to mission; with
- Intelligence and insightfulness
- Upward mobility;
- Plain speaking; and
- Steadfast principle.
But as Ralph Harris used to say: “we are not Thatcherite – she is IEA-ite.” And she saw that when she said of Fisher, Hayek, Seldon and Harris, “they were few but they were right and they saved Britain.” But being Lady T she went on “but remember, while the cock may crow, it’s the hen that lays the egg.”
Ladies and gentlemen:
Please all stand.
Please raise your glasses to a great lady who encouraged our great founder Sir Antony Fisher to build the Atlas Network.
Ladies and gentlemen, a toast to Lady T!
Note: John Blundell also wrote the lead story of Atlas’s Summer 2013 Highlights newsletter, “Lady Thatcher and the Power of Ideas,” available here as a PDF.