Saturday 19 August 2017

Hers was truly a life less ordinary

Thatcher's death gives Ruth Dudley Edwards cause to reflect on how this radical saw off appeasers and transformed her country says Ruth Dudley Edwards

Writing, reading, watching, listening, talking and thinking, I've been immersed in the last act of Margaret Thatcher's extraordinary life ever since Monday, April 8, when her death kicked off an extraordinary national conversation about her significance in the history of the United Kingdom.

Apart from those who hate her so much that civilised discussion is impossible, the main thing people say is: "I'd forgotten how terrible things were before she became prime minister." And then we reminisce about the Seventies, trade-union bullies, sclerotic state bodies and the seeming inevitability of economic disaster. And even unpolitical women remember how incredible were the hurdles of miso-gyny and snobbery that the grocer's daughter vaulted.

I heard of her in 1969, when my then husband, Patrick Cosgrave, an Anglophile from a Finglas council estate, moved from being London editor of RTE to a major job in the Conservative Research Department. Of the members of the shadow cabinet he worked with, he was most impressed by Margaret Thatcher, whom he found formidable, clear-minded and charismatic.

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