Thirty Five Years To The Day After Thatcher Was Elected: Where Is Our Modern Leader?


Whether you agreed with her or not, Margaret Thatcher showed real leadership – something that is lacking among our current politicians…  Picture courtesy: BBC

Thirty five years ago today Margaret Thatcher became British Prime Minister, taking the helm of a country in a deep economic and social crisis following several years of mismanagement under the successive stewardships of Edward Heath, Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

The world was different in so many ways back then. There were no mobiles, there was no internet and much of the British economy was owned by the state. But there were also features that sound worryingly familiar: Russia and the West were at loggerheads, there were worries over foreign energy supplies and the Middle East was a mess…

At the time, the popular imagination was fired by the idea that Thatcher was Britain’s first female Prime Minister. In hindsight, it is even more significant that she was Britain’s first true leader since the war time giant Winston Churchill – and, sadly, so far at least, our last.

You may or may not have agreed with her – and many did not, and, even to this day, do not – but few can doubt that she had a clear vision of where she wanted to take the country, that she set this out unambiguously and that she worked tirelessly to take us there. Thatcher had real beliefs and principles and a deep political conviction that forged a vision for a brighter future and inspired hope among millions of people in Britain. And eighteen month’s after Thatcher’s election, America voted for Ronald Reagan as President; another conviction politician with a shared vision who also inspired hope – in the form of his compelling brand of sunshine optimism born of a belief that America could conquer all. Between them, Thatcher and Reagan ended the Cold War and unleashed a wave of economic change that spread around the globe. They changed the world. They were true leaders.

Look at our current crop of politicians…

Principles. Vision. Inspiration. These are the ingredients of real leadership. We know great leadership when we see it. And we can tell when it is missing. Look at Britain’s current crop of politicians. What does Prime Minister David Cameron really believe in? Where is Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s vision for the future? Does Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – the man who sold out over university tuition fees for a Cabinet seat – have any real principles? Do any of them inspire genuine hope within you that Britain can be a better place and that they can take us there? Britain deserves better.

Britain needs better. These are challenging times: the recovery in our debt-ridden economy remains fragile; globalisation continues; the population is ageing; and the technology revolution is gathering speed. Dangerous times too: we face an energy crisis and the potential peril of climate change; there is the risk of a shooting war in Ukraine; the show-down with Russia may presage a new Cold War between East and West; China is on the rise and threatening Japan; and the Middle East seems to be splitting along sectarian lines following the upheavals of the Arab Spring and the Western invasion or Iraq.

At home, there is a complete absence of vision about the shape of the future of British society; a society that is being transformed by technology and demographics, while our politicians argue about who should pay more as they tinker at the margins of a status quo that needs to be overhauled.

It is even worse abroad. Our foreign policy has been in a mess since the end of the Cold War. The disastrous invasion of Iraq, our intervention in Libya and the confused decision making over our non-intervention in Syria all demonstrate a lack of clarity and purpose – vision – about our role in the world. While our complete miscalculation over Russia’s response to Western overtures to Ukraine concerning European Union membership shows a worrying naivety.

Britain is changing and the world is becoming less predictable. This is no time for focus-group politics and identikit politicians. This is a time for principles, vision and inspiration. This is a time for leadership.

Britain needs a strong leader. Where are you?

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2 Responses to “Thirty Five Years To The Day After Thatcher Was Elected: Where Is Our Modern Leader?”
  1. Nick clifford says:

    Thatcher came from an old breed of politician and politics where there was no television or sound bites and your policies were set, you either voted yes or no. Like her or not you know where you stood and that went with others from her time like Tony Benn,. Unfortunately we also have Maggie and the conservatives to thank for using TV and sound bites for the first real time, this changed British politics for ever. The USA had been using TV for elections for some time notably Nixon v Kennedy where the TV and image sold by media won Kennedy the election. New Labour latched onto this finally and so the British general elections are now About selling image and not a lot else, when in recent years has any government done half of what they had advertised in their manifesto! Notably a referendum on the EU probably the biggest continuing broken promise in the last 25 years by all parties. Our politicians are like actors on a stage or a movie they may have a good script but the acting is a bit thin, wooden and and the film never really delivers at the box office.

  2. Maggie had a vison and conviction to take her vison forward, unfortunately she was the one and only in the Conservative party at that time. Today, who knows what any of our politicians believe in, they have a thought for a moment and start to progress with that thought, but in the next second this thought is replaced by another and at times an opposing thought. So all the policies are a mismash of thoughts and this leads to no sustainable leadership to follow policies through.

    Since Maggie there have been a succession of Governments, but in all they were lacking leadership to work for the general good of the country. People thought Tony Blair would be a leader, for he certainly had the charisma to win the electorate. But were his policies for the good of the country or for the good of Tony Blair.

    We need a person to lead on their policies and bring the UK back to the fore. Where this person is, who can say, for as it is today there is no such person. For many years the influence of the UK in world politics has been diminishing and I do doubt that we will ever be as influencial as we once were. It could be said that for a country of our size we were always too influencial and we are receeding now to where we should be. For, unless a leader can be found, this is truely where we will be destined to be.


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