ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Thatcher's impact on Britain can still be felt. A leader with clear, if divisive, convictions, her rule has transformed Britain. Ironically, for someone who ruled with such imperialist nostalgia, her policies have led to the economic and political eclipse of British power.

In Sanskrit, it is said that maranantani vairani. In Latin, the same thought is expressed somewhat differently: nil nisi bonum, one should not speak ill of the dead. Much of the media commentary after Margaret Thatcher’s death in April has obviously ignored these dicta. And, no wonder. She was a divisive personality, a politician of conviction, not consensus, and sometimes with extreme views. I recall having read that the British empire was bigger, and far more peaceful, than the French or other empires, because much of the ruling class had Oxbridge backgrounds, and the most taught philosopher in these universities was Aristotle, famous for his doctrine of moderation as the only virtue and extremism as the only vice. One point on which both her followers and her critics would agree is that she cannot be accused of practising the Aristotelian virtue of moderation.

Until she came to power in 1979, there was very little difference in policies followed by the two major parties, Labour and Conservative, when in power. One of the cornerstones of these policies was that governance required a dialogue with the British trade unions. The result was that the unions, or at least their leadership, increasingly had become the “dominant minority”. In the 1970s when I was employed in the United Kingdom (UK), “Labour was not working” had become a popular catchphrase, the first word in the quote referring both to the Labour party and the working class. I still recall how difficult it was to get a British Telecom (a public sector company) operator on the line for putting a call through to India. There were umpteen strikes, uncollected garbage, power cuts (for a while Britain was observing a three-day week because there was no power).

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