From the hits on these pages it seems I have some British readers and I address this article to those people. I have a good colleague from the UK who visits with me a couple of times a year and he's a man who is unashamedly Tory. On one trip he confessed that his idol was Margaret Thatcher and I just laughed.
Though our two islands may be divided by a common language, (and all that sort of thing old bean), we are surprisingly ignorant of each other. I doubt you would find an Irishman this week who couldn't tell you that Leicester won the Premiership. Few of them though could pinpoint Leicester on the map. London yes, Liverpool of course but Leicester could be almost anywhere in the UK for the most of us. It is a sad lacking in our education because the same people would find Bordeaux, (without a word of French), but with ease. We are not entirely guilty because the average Brit struggles to even pronounce some of the place names here.
So when my English friend expressed his true feelings about Mrs. Thatcher, my ignorance and provinciality sprang to the surface. I grew up in Ireland of the troubles and while that conflict was an annoyance in the UK at that time, it was the all consuming question over here. Central to that period was Margaret Thatcher playing russian roulette with the hunger strikers. In tandem, we got a one-sided version of the miner's strike and her handling of it, on our TV, so together, these incidents that defined her time as Prime Minister were all negative over here. We were also told of the "Malvinas" in such a fashion as to cast the lady in an even more unflattering light.
But when I left my friend that day I suffered the uneasiness of a man that may perhaps have spoken out of turn. That was a couple of years ago now but tonight while trawling YouTube I came across a CH4 production called "Death of a Revolutionary." Now, I'm not naive enough to believe every single word of it but the theme never varied. Margaret Thatcher not only took on the Unions but she went for the land owning Toffs as well. She canvassed among the working class and middle classes and wanted to make both better off in a new Britain. An hour of such a documentary, made after her death but unavailable to me in single-channel land Ireland back then, changed my whole perspective on the woman and her policies and intentions. I lived through her time, albeit over here, and as an avid reader of the press then I never knew any of this.
It was truly an eye-opener for me and I had to do an unfamiliar and stunning u-turn in my thinking. Tony Blair was well covered in this country but I do not believe history in the end will be kind to him. But Mrs. Thatcher's portrayal in this documentary gave me pause for thought at the very least. Have a look yourself and see what you think afterwards. If genuine then she embodied all that I believe in and hope for.
Ain't that a turn-up for the books?