I was honoured to have Lady Thatcher as a member of my constituency and the Life Patron of our Conservative Association. Having listened to the many proper tributes to Mrs Thatcher during her time as leader of our Party and Prime Minister I wanted to add a more personal reflection on behalf of my Association members.
Before her failing health Lady Thatcher was in regular contact with our Association and attended many local events, often to many people’s surprise as required by the circumstances surrounding her security. The former Prime Minister was unfailingly gracious in meeting our supporters over the years but, as many will testify, one of her great strengths was how she would greet the organisers of events and thank them for their effort. It was this personal touch seen locally here in the Cities of London and Westminster as well as at Party conferences and many other Conservative political events which made her loved as well as respected by so many in our Party.
For my own part, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister when I was fourteen and left office when I was twenty six. I was a grammar schoolboy in the 1970s when selective education was under threat. I was repelled by the politics of envy and class war rhetoric at that time. From then on, I preferred the ideas she personified and articulated of choice and individual responsibility.
By the time I left university Mrs Thatcher had firmly stamped her mark on our nation and I was convinced that the UK was a place of infinite possibilities. These are the very experiences that made me a Conservative – the negative, divisive class warfare of the 1970s versus the exciting sense of aspiration and self-belief that came with Thatcher’s radical liberalisation of our nation.
Mrs Thatcher carried a distinct message for this nation at a time when it was lost. She championed liberty at home and abroad and broke down orthodoxies. She gave people the opportunity to shape their own destinies through merit and hard work, independent of the state. She told people to have confidence in themselves, and in Britain.
If there was one thing that Mrs Thatcher had in spades, it was authenticity. People knew what she stood for and were able to respect that, even if grudgingly. It is this authenticity, alongside her enduring qualities of leadership and conviction, that we should all commemorate when the nation marks her passing on Wednesday.