Daily Telegraph: Margaret Thatcher was a champion of freedom - exactly what Europe needs now

José María Aznar, Spanish prime minister from 1996 to 2004, argues tthat despite being branded as anti-Europeanist, Britain’s former PM firmly believed in a Europe of nation-states based on cooperation and trade.

To read the full articleplease visit the Daily Telegraph website

“Last May marked the 35th anniversary of the beginning of Margaret Thatcher’s 11-year premiership. It was no ordinary celebration: her her arrival at 10 Downing Street in 1979 was a historic event for Britain. Indeed, when she assumed power, Britain was a nation in decline, bailed-out by the International Monetary Fund with a despairing population. Out-performed in economic terms by most of its Western allies, Britain was rightly regarded at the time as the “sick man of Europe”.

A decade later, when Mrs Thatcher was ousted as prime minister by a revolt in her own party, the country’s international influence and prestige had been restored, its economy was growing steadily and Britons could once again look into the future with optimism.

These remarkable achievements were without question the result of the liberalisation and deregulation policies her cabinets persued. With her governments, she had dismantled the so-called post-war consensus which by the 1970s had proved to be such an unmitigated failure.

Baroness Thatcher knew full well that bad polices yield dismal results, whereas good policies yield good results and lead to prosperity and growth. Her successful policies were not just the result of strong patriotism, pragmatism and a high sense of responsibility but also of her firm conviction regarding the transformative capacity of liberty and the free market. Combined with her wholehearted upholding of personal responsibility, this constituted an outright philosophy of courage, effort, sacrifice and freedom. A doctrine for change which informed a conservative revolution and made Britain a freer and more prosperous country.

But that idea of liberty would not have succeeded politically had it not been for Lady Thatcher’s determination and her strong sense of leadership. She knew that freedom could not be taken for granted and that it had to be upheld enthusiastically and on a daily basis. She was also aware of the resilience of those individuals and entities, in Britain and abroad, who supported collectivism but she didn’t hesitate to face them. It’s what she did with the National Union of Mineworkers during the 1984-1985 wild strikes. Nor did she waver in her fight against terror in the wake of the Brighton bombing which almost killed her.

Lady Thatcher’s militant classical liberalism inevitably led her to upholding the cause of freedom and democracy beyond the borders of Britain. She developed a warm personal relationship with Ronald Reagan and decisively strengthened the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, which became an almost indestructible alliance. The Atlantic bond was instrumental in augmenting the role of Europe, providing peace and stability to the rest of the world. Despite being branded as anti-Europeanist, she firmly believed in and endorsed a Europe of nation-states based on co-operation and trade. That is why she supported the Single European Act and the completion of the Common Market – a space for free trade, peace and security. She simply did not support the idea of Europe becoming a “super-state” and a “Social-Democratic” counterweight to American capitalism. As for her stand on Communism, she strongly believed that Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe was by no means permanent and strongly condemned the Cold War status quo in the Continent. She supported the US deployment of the so-called Euro-missiles, openly endorsed the Solidarity movement in Poland, and became a reference for some of the former Warsaw Pact members in their transition to democracy and free market economy. Along with Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan, Lady Thatcher was a key contributor to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union.”

To read the full articleplease visit the Daily Telegraph website

Date Added: Monday 16th June 2014