Was a guest on Patrick Hanann's 'Call to Order' today, alongside former Cardiff Council 'supremo' Russell Goodway. Under discussion was the incomparable Margaret Thatcher, who ascended to the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom thirty years ago. I've always had a lot more time for Russell than most, but I totally disagreed with his assessment of the great Lady.
In 1979 I was a newly elected 'Independent' councillor in Montgomeryshire (elected at a by-election which I won by one vote). I was genuinely 'independent' and had voted both Plaid Cymru and Conservative, and had huge respect for the Liberal MP, Emlyn Hooson, who is now a good friend. At the time, politics was peripheral to my life. Following my father's early death, I was striving to establish myself in business - and there was also the small matter of the three sprogs already born (with another to follow). My memory of the time was that Britain had been brought to her knees by a Labour Government unable to stand up to the likes of Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon and Joe Gormley. And then along came this woman, Margaret Thatcher, backed up by her philosophical inspiration, Keith Joseph. She had snatched the leadership from the 'Heathites', and was promising to sort out the nation's industrial relations nightmare and shambolic economic policy. I do recall thinking that she would be measured by her success in wresting control of the British economy back from what we called 'the union barons'. After a nervous start she delivered big-time - though a lot of credit must go to Arthur Scargill, who did more than any other single person to destroy union influence.
But back to 'Call to Order'. Where Russell Goodway saw a woman who undermined the social, civil and industrial institutions of the time (even blamed her for the current economic problems delivered by irresponsible bankers), I saw a woman who transformed an economic basket case into a economic success story that became a major player on the world stage. And her legacy remained intact until last week's appalling budget, which has ensured that Gordon Brown enters his own historic niche - as Britain's worst ever Prime Minister. In the 1970's, the destruction wrought on the British economy by a Labour Government created the stage onto which Mrs Margaret Thatcher strode and commanded with such panache. Thirty years later another Labour Government has wrought destruction on the British economy and has created another stage which awaits a new star. David Cameron, 'Come on Down'.