Sunday, 28 April 2013

Mrs Thatcher knew the interdependence of society

Last night's BBC documentary entitled "Young Margaret" about her early loves and struggles with poverty belied the story of "The Iron Lady" without any Achilles heel.

Young Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) was torn between
  • her over-strict Methodist upbringing 
  • her strong desire for a husband
  • a strong liking for nice dinners and parties 
  • a love of dress 
  • politics 
  • the pressures of poverty. 
As a young woman, Margaret, like many other Oxford undergraduates have, wrote despondently, after being effectively dumped by a male Oxford student. She expressed to her sister, Murial, her sense of failure in the "romance" department and that her sister has "better luck" with men than she did. The film makes a strong case that finding a husband was more difficult for her than being Prime Minister!

Her biographer Charles Moore believes that she finally married Denis Thatcher on the rebound, after Oxford educated men and medics disdained her, particularly one, Tony Bray, with whom she was in love.  Apparently it was stockbroker Tony's later idea to sell council houses to sitting tenants. Hence her regard for him ironically affected the lives and fortunes of many.

I have also just noted a similar pattern repeated in my own family.  Very strong women, intelligent and gifted women, from poor backgrounds, in their late twenties tend to marry the older sons of wealthy and successful businessmen with less business acumen than their fathers. Often, the more mature man will find a "strong" role in patronising the career of their talented wife using their inherited money, which dwindles as their wife's income increases.

I also noted that two of three times at Oxford University, daughter of a shop-keeper Margaret had no money at all.  But she clearly told people that she was without money to carry on with her work and activities. Her Oxford chemistry tutor organised a couple of grants for her.  At the Oxford Conservative Club, a Duke bought her a bicycle. In the first instance, the Good Samaritan did not give her own money and in the second, the Duke did!

My point is this:  Margaret Thatcher knew poverty and she knew what it was to ask for money, not thinking to earn it herself, by doing a job in the evenings or weekends - as some students must do now.

Margaret Thatcher knew that total self reliance has its limits in a civilised society.

We are all interdependent. There is such a thing as society.  

Kindness and charity are crucial to the lives of others and to our country.

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