Margaret Thatcher's legacy

I was fortunate enough to meet Margaret Thatcher a number of times over the course of my life – first with my grandfather when I was 5 in her Finchley & Golders Green surgery. Little did I know at the tender age of 5 the enormous figure in world politics that I was in the presence of!

Later in life I met her on several occasions including celebrations for her 80th Birthday party. Her words of encouragement to me and to always ‘do what I believed in’ still hold true to me today. She was someone with an aura about her that once you met her – no other politician could ever come close.

‘Maggie was a Conviction politician’. What does this mean? It means that when she saw that change was necessary, she would stick to her course. Conviction means sometimes making near impossible decisions – but part of being a leader is making decisions that others don’t have to.

Many have argued that Thatcherism has lingered over British politics ever since her demise – and they are right. Her conviction politics; based on the great ideological divides of our time – reshaped British Politics in a way that could never have been predicted. Tony Blair winning in 1997 was not Labour moving to the centre ground, but rather the centre ground shifting towards Thatcherism.

On economics, international relations, trade unions and democracy – Thatcher will forever be remembered not only as the first woman prime minster, but as the Prime Minister who fought for Britain every step of the way – Be it the Falklands, the miners, the European Commission – or even the United States. This is the conviction politics I am talking about – Defending British interests first, and believing that our best times are ahead and not behind us.

David Cameron has a hard act to follow. Whilst there are many differences between them there are also many similarities.

Thatcher presided over deep economic troubles not of her own making, and so does Cameron.

Thatcher stood up for Democracy in the Falklands and for Kuwait. Cameron stands up for democracy in Afghanistan and Libya.

Thatcher stood up for British rights at the European Union, and so does Cameron.

Thatcher believed in the ‘invisible hand’ and believed you can’t create wealth by taxing every penny that an individual earns or by creating millions of state jobs – and so does Cameron.

The enduring Legacy of Margaret Thatcher is ‘conviction-politics’. David Cameron can best preserve her legacy by sticking to his core conservative principles and convictions. In the age of 24 hour news – incredible amounts of pressure can be placed on politicians. It shows true conviction to ‘stick to your guns’ and as Mrs. T put it ‘U-Turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning’. Some members of the public may not always like decisions that politicians make, but they will respect Politicians who are strong leaders and ‘stick the course’.

Margaret Thatcher’s conviction politics changed our country for the better. If something is good for the benefit of the country, it must be done – no matter how hard the obstacles. From the rise of China and re-emergence over the last decade of a provocative Russia, to the Arab Spring and the rise of extremist governments in South America – the future of Britain and the free world over the next 50 years requires the vision and foresight of conviction politics.

We must never forget the Legacy that Margaret Thatcher has left not only on the Conservative party and the country, but on the world as a whole. We must use this legacy to ensure that Britain’s best times are ahead of her.

Elliot van Emden is commercial director of Parliament Street

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