Published on 10 Apr 2013

Miliband: ‘Thatcher was right’… but not often

In Commons tributes to Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron said she was right about Europe, privatisation and trade union reform.

Ed Miliband in a very selective list said she was right about some privatisation (like Pickfords removals), the Falklands and reaching out to Gorbachev’s reform spirit in the old Soviet Union.

Nick Clegg kept it vaguer saying “she drew lines on the political map that we are still navigating.” When he repeated the “no such thing as society” attributed quotation a Tory MP heckled “read the sentence,” and cross Tory muttering started that ran on to the end of his statement.

Ed Miliband managed for the second time in a row – the first was the Leveson Royal Charter statement – to sound Prime Ministerial.

David Cameron’s peroration -“cometh the hour … cometh the lady ” – was better than the rest of a tribute that never really took flight. Maybe that was intentional, not wanting to look like he was trying on her cloak.

Much was made of the dangers for Ed Miliband in this statement but he navigated them with ease.

The bigger risk from these two weeks of remembrance will be for David Cameron. The euphoria and selective memory about Margaret Thatcher’s premiership risks reminding his more restless backbenchers about what they feel their current leader lacks. “They’re not fit to be mentioned in the same breath,” one Tory MP said this morning.

Malcolm Rifkind and Peter Lilley, the first two former Thatcher ministers who spoke, were also two she reserved her bitterest words for in her memoirs.

Both told her flatly in her Commons office on 21 November 1990 that her time was up, and she writes of being unsurprised by Rifkind’s predictable disloyalty and shocked by what she saw as Lilley’s treachery.

David Cameron laughed at Conor Burns’ memory of a taxi driver dropping him off at the Thatcher home saying “tell her … We aint had a good ‘un since.” Even at the follow up line: Margaret Thatcher said “he’s quite right.”

Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Ed Miliband have all rushed out acceptances to the funeral invitation for Wednesday next week. Downing Street will give more names tomorrow.

The PM himself seems to be sucking on a lozenge again. He’ll presumably need his voice for St Paul’s on Wednesday.

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11 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Sort of appropriate don’t you think:

    At her funeral no other opinions will be allowed on the streets.

    The lickspittle police and military will surround her coffin.

    All in all, a very proper ending for a tin-pot Boadicea.

    Meanwhile, street parties will continue all over the country.

    As for Parliament – what can you expect from a pig but a grunt?

  2. Philip says:

    or sucking on a wasp!

  3. IGiveUp says:

    She had guts, when the country needed a leader with guts and nerve. She took most of the country with her, including me, and Britain was a better place to live and work after her. Some sectors of society, ie, the Unions didn’t get it and tried to carry on waging a war they had already won, and consequently lost their role totally. Most of us moved on inspired by ‘the right to manage’ or ‘start your own business’.

    If Blair had been half the man that he never was, the job could have been finished, but instead he wasted his 13 years
    We need another Maggie now – time may be running out.

  4. sue_m says:

    Good for those who stayed away from this performance in parliament today. Those who didnt should not be able to claim expenses, what a sickening thought in these days of hardship for many. I have just read that William Hague thinks we (taxpayers) can afford the millions for her funeral – because Thatcher gained a rebate from the EU!!!

    That says it all to me about politicians and especially the deluded child of Thatcher that is Hague. They think the money is their own to spend as they wish. So ‘mummy’ saved the taxpayers some of their money that she signed away to Europe, just so it could be spent on her later. Incredible.

    I bet there’s a few hospitals or schools that could do with an extra million or two. When I die, my estate will pay for my funeral. Let Thatcher’s pay for hers.

  5. Ray Turner says:

    Its a struggle to be polite about Lady T as I think she did a lot of irrepairable damage to the UK, maliciously so. She’s a legendary PM, but for all the wrong reasons…

    Then again, most her predecessors/successors have been just as bad, for one reason or another.

    The one exception perhaps is John Major, who as Tony Blair (I think) said in his incoming speech was an essentially decent chap.

    David Cameron is not doing too bad overall, so far, but his premiership isn’t over yet. I’m not yet decided which list he’ll eventually join. The long one or the short one….

  6. John Morgan says:

    My recall of Mrs Thatcher was of her unshakable determination that she was right in all
    respects. A characteristic she shared with many leaders whom history has proved flawed more often than right.
    She negotiated better financial terms in the EU. We all agree it was a victory for the UK.
    But what else that cannot be considered questionable? Consider…
    The Falkland islanders could have been resettled on Scottish islands, the Falklands being indefensible except at great cost and loss of life.
    The excesses of Union power curbed without the step too far of having to give notice.
    The Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Gorbachof for his part in ending the cold war, not to Mrs Thatcher or Reagan who simply upped the arms race.

  7. larry iles says:

    Garry,thanks for remaining relatively detached in your report of these privileged male MPs almost nauseating guff for this awful person.I,ve just finished reading the remarks on Australian tv current affairs programme sites of their foreign minister,who if anything is closer to the Blair wing of my own membeship UK Labour party in ALP terms.Even he recalls how he thanked the lord that his Asian wife was not near enough the lady to hear a racist rant she insisted on making against his country,s multiculturalism as she claimed it would all end ”Figi”style in a ”black takeover”My own family have all suffered from Thatcher,s jobless monetarism,clause anti-gay and crazed pro-Americanist war,combat-liking.My late mum ,a post wwii YC talented Surrey organiser got it right,she never voted Tory ever again once she became the repeat Victorian divisive PM.All our current MPS who are now celebrating her at our expense too in shocking Commons recall and Queenie too deserve a cold shower of misery reality she and her now forgotten mentor Lord Joseph I often campus challenged in 1970,s caused in Chicago monetarist Hayek pain infliction

    1. IGiveUp says:

      Larry, what would you have preferred to have happened in the late 80s? I respect your position, but if John Major, surely a decent man, had been leading instead of MT at that time, I can’t imagine where we would be today. And if the Labour Party alternative had been PM? I dread to think.

      Reverting to, and developing my original statement, MT was the revolutionary and was the catalyst for a radical change of direction, but surely she cannot be held responsible for the results of her initiative 20 years after they were instigated. One can’t condemn the driver after they have been removed from the steering wheel.

      All that said, she was burnt out and isolated by the time of her overthrow.

  8. Andrew Dundas says:

    What we’re all over looking is the outrage caused by the Poll Tax and the great Tory Inflation.

    I dislike saying this, BUT …Enoch Powell was correct about Thatcher. Ugh!

    Now I shall explain why. Powell was the only Tory MP to explain that inflation was NOT caused by Trade Union militancy.
    Powell correctly explained that inflation was a purely monetary phenomenon. Because the Tory Government held Bank Rate below the inflation rate and ran persistent deficits, the volume of money expanded so that prices were bound to rise. All TUs were doing, Powell explained, was react to those inflationary conditions. It was Thatcher who unleashed government deficits that caused the great inflation and liquidity crises.

    As for the Poll Tax, it remains the Scottish Separatists’ most powerful recruiter; that English MPs broke the Act of Union and imposed a swingeing tax on Scotland’s poorest families. Wealthy Scottish families were to pay a lot less local tax than the poor. Even US Republican’s thought that was crazy. So she went ahead and imposed the Poll Tax on the English too!

    No wonder her cabinet & the European Council agreed that Thatcher HAD to go!

    1. IGiveUp says:

      The person who never made a mistake never made anything. And the Poll Tax, in the form it was proposed, was a terrible mistake. The Tories backed down actually, as we all know.

      Believe me, some members of the TUC had more on their wish list than maintaining their members’ wages in line with inflation. Somebody had to stand up. Thank heavens she did. I was trying to manage factories in the Midlands at the time. It was not pleasant.

  9. ANON says:

    Labour very quickly grasped many of her reforms and expanded them without due care and caution. particularly in banking where greed has overtaken caution. Men particularly are always keen to expand often without due caution and the use of excessive leverage in financial transactions has been disastrous.
    Bring back the building societies or separate local banking from international banking. for the average person but MAYBE permit a SMALL percentage of savers funds to be used in more speculative investments in order to be more competitive with interst rates on savings.

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