I just finished reading Margaret Thatcher’s memoir, The Path to Power (actually, it’s the second volume. The first volume was The Downing Street Years).
For long I had esteemed her. Not only was she the first lady to lead a major Western democracy, she did so at a very difficult time when the heritage of freedom and democracy was at risk of crumbling. And today when big government and the welfare state still appear attractive to many (especially in the developing world), her experience and philosophy can help us see them for the mirage they are.
Her life journey was remarkable. Rising from a humble background in a small British town to become the British PM was not an easy feat. It was interesting discovering how she grew up and the various influences which went into making her Margaret Roberts, then Thatcher. Of course, the strongest influence was her father, who would also become Mayor of Grantham. Thus one can see that politics was in her blood from the onset.
I was surprised to read about her estimation of the Christian writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis. You can tell a lot about someone from what she says about others:
The power of his broadcasts, sermons and essays came from a combination of simple language and theological depth. Who has ever portrayed more wittily and convincingly the way in which Evil works on our weaknesses than he did in The Screwtape Letters? Who has ever made more accessible the profound concepts of Natural Law than he did in The Abolition of Man and in the opening passages of Mere Christianity?P. 40
Much more remarkable still were her convictions about politics and economics. She stood firmly against both communism and socialism at a time when many nations even in the West had somewhat resigned to the onward march of socialist ideas.
She was dubbed ‘the Iron Lady’, and we can see that her tough stance towards socialist ideas and their proponents stemmed from her deeply rooted convictions about what a free society is and why it mattered. For her, what has been termed ‘conservatism’ was not just a set of abstract notions; it was a matter of the life, health and well being of both individuals and nations.
In all, it was an interesting journey with one of the great political minds of the modern era.