Margaret Thatcher’s real influence

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?

The last few days have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of eulogies to Margaret Thatcher. Whether they were kind, cruel, respectful or damning what is clear is that the country felt like it knew her in a very personal way.

I cannot claim to do so. Her last general election victory took place a few months before I was born and I spent my formative political years living and studying abroad. Growing up I knew the headlines, the slogans, the fictional portrayals (and it’s hard to think of a politician who’s had quite such fictional portrayals).

Since returning the power of her legacy has always been clear. No debate on modern UK politics is far from a mention of her name. However spending so many years outside this debate meant I never truly felt part of it.

I’ve learned more since returning – no more so than in the last few days. But I never felt a great personal connection to her or the battles which defined politics for a generation.

So when wondering how much Mrs Thatcher had influenced me personally I have to admit that I was always left feeling that she had little direct influence on me.

However since 8 April I’ve read obituaries, heard eulogies and had conversations with friends and family members, all of which drove home the effect that this remarkable individual had on so many people. The past few days have made me realise that the real influence Margaret Thatcher has had on me has come through the people in my life who loved, loathed, respected and were inspired by her.

As the years go by more and more Britons will grow up feeling like me – still connected to the past, but by an ever lengthening thread.

So rather than dedicate this piece to a person who to me will always remain in the abstract, I would like to take this chance to acknowledge the the people who are keeping her alive by sharing their beliefs, their stories and their memories, and thank those who have shared them with me.

Matthew Gass is membership secretary of Parliament Street

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