Lady Thatcher died on April 8th, 2013. I was at lunch with friends in the Old Monk Exchange in Westminster, when a news flash appeared on the (silent) TV screen. In some ways it was a relief, in that she had suffered poor health and memory loss in her later years. On April 27th she was honoured with a ceremonial (public) funeral. To untrained eyes this looks like the pomp and ceremony of a state funeral, but the hearse was drawn by horses instead of troops, and there was no riderless horse with boots revered in stirrups. The late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, had been similarly honoured, unlike Churchill, who had received a full state funeral.
The funeral was described by Owen Jones as “a £10m party political broadcast for the Conservative Party,” but it cost only £3.6m, of which £3.1m was for security. This was thought necessary because the Left had demonized her into a hate figure, though the moment the Queen announced she would attend the service in St Paul’s, the prospect of anti-Thatcher demonstrations diminished. In the event, a tiny number of people turned their backs as the cortege passed, and were angrily harangued by the huge crowds of supporters.
Ordinary people, whose lives had been uplifted by her policies, gathered in their thousands to pay their respects and say farewell. Some had bought their own homes, thanks to her right-to-buy. Others had seen much-needed improvements in now-privatized but previously ailing state industries and utilities. Some had become first-time share buyers during her privatization issues. Many more were simply there to say thanks for the pride she had given them once again in their nation. She had turned around a desperate and bankrupt nation and enabled it to walk proudly again on the world stage.
The Left made her a hate figure because she helped kill off Socialism for a generation, not only in the UK, but on a global scale. Those who had dreamed that one day Socialism would encompass the world found their future taken away from them, and they hated her for it.
They claimed she “destroyed manufacturing,” but in fact manufacturing increased during her terms. They say she destroyed the coal-mining industry, but in fact more pits closed under Harold Wilson than under her. UK coal-mining had been in long-term decline because it was uncompetitive. They claim she increased poverty and cut welfare pending, but in fact living standards rose dramatically over her terms, and welfare spending increased. And far from “laying waste public services,“ they all improved after they were privatized.
The fact is that she was a successful Prime Minister. one who turned her country around and left it improved beyond recognition. The hundreds of thousands of well-wishers who turned out to pay their respects knew that, and cheered as she passed on her final journey.