"Yesterday saw the sad death of Margaret Thatcher. She was born the daughter of a middle-class shop proprietor in Grantham and as Napoleon would have added, into a 'nation of shop-keepers.' She lived a life as a person and politician of total conviction and died a lady and baroness of the country of which she was proud to serve.
She was a person to whom the mantle of 'indifference' could never be applied. One either loved her or hated her, and whatever one's politics, she commanded the respect of all those who had personal dealings with her. There is not a shadow of doubt, (albeit for good or bad), that between coming to Office for the first time and finally leaving Office, that her policies had changed the economical, political and social fabric of this country more within any twenty-year period than it had ever been changed since Henry the Eighth fell out with the Pope and declared himself 'Defender of the Faith' or Oliver Cromwell chopped off the head of King Charles the First.
Indeed, she was an enigmatic person with a strange sense of morals when it it came to doing 'the right thing', as the comparison of her response between something huge and something small in her life reveals.
She had agreed to publicly read one of my children's books that I'd written (Nancy's Song), in a West Yorkshire school during the early 9O's. The book had been written to raise money for the Roy Castle Appeal. Some short time prior to Roy's untimely death, Margaret Thatcher and Roy Castle had met at a social function. Margaret Thatcher had offered to shake hands with Roy but he pointedly declined. Despite having been snubbed by Roy, Margaret Thatcher felt it to be 'proper' that I be appraised of these circumstances, as my book had been written in Roy Castle's honour and for the benefit of his charity after his death. During the phone call to inform me, she indicated that while she was still prepared to read from my book at the school assembly, she felt that if Roy was still alive he would not have wanted her to. I thanked her for her candour and withdrew the book-reading invitation.
It is ironic that from the 850 plus famous names who read my books in Yorkshire schools between 1990 and 2005 that Margaret Thatcher and Cherie Blair are the only two cancellations that I ever had to make. (See the article on my web site for fuller details of this story).http://www.fordefables.co.uk/the-one-that-got-away.htm
I have since often tried to reconcile this image of a highly sensitive and respectful lady with perhaps one of the few politicians who was capable of creating so much social upheaval and class division within the country that she led. How could someone who displayed such sensitivity and common respect about a relatively small matter square with the architect of the much-despised poll tax, the scourge of the trade unions and the decimator of the mining industry in which my late father worked? How could someone care about the feelings of what a deceased foe might think, were he still alive to express a view, with the sinking of the Belgrano by a British nuclear Submarine on the 2nd, May, 1982 upon her instructions, and which resulted in the death of 323 crew. And while the Belgrano was certainly 'for turning' at the time of its sinking with heavy loss of life, the Iron Lady unfortunately wasn't!
Ever since the merciless onslaught of Boudicea against those invaders who dared to attack her people, I doubt if our country has ever seen the like of a Margaret Thatcher battling her way through the ranks of European leaders, brow-beating them into submission with her handbag as she demanded, 'Give us our money back'. Such tall oaks only grow but once within one's lifetime.
God rest her soul. I thank God that the history of countries are written upon the broad backs of political giants and never through the memoirs of political pigmies. My only regret is that this country was never allowed the opportunity to either re-elect Maggie to Office again or throw her out on her ear. I'm pretty sure that is the type of end to her political career that she would have preferred to one of having been stabbed in the back by the Brutuses of the Tory party." William Forde: April 9th, 2013.