Judith Collins: why I admire Margaret Thatcher, icon and outsider

by Toby Manhire / 17 April, 2013
The NZ cabinet minister explains why the former Conservative leader, whose funeral is today, meant so much to her.
A campaign advertisement from 1979.

I remember when Margaret Thatcher was first elected as prime minister in 1979.

Britain was a country on the brink of collapse - torn apart by weak appeasement leadership and by malignant home-grown forces that sought to take the UK into the communist sphere of influence.

As a 20-year old in New Zealand, I watched with interest television reports of civil unrest, the impact of three day working weeks on the economy, and the massive strikes led by communist-aligned trade unions.

Her party had failed to inspire as it sought to work with the very people whose goal was to overthrow the UK democratic system. When elected, Baroness Thatcher brought a backbone to her party not seen since Churchill.

Baroness Thatcher was the first and, to date, only woman UK prime minister. It is easy to listen to the carping and vile names given her by the hard left and forget what condition Britain was in when she took over.

She dealt to, not with, the IRA. She was highly intelligent. She was passionate and brave. She was formidable. Her work ethic was unsurpassed. She was a wife and a doting mother and grandmother. However, she was, despite all her achievements, an outsider.

Some years ago, I had dinner with Milton and Rose Friedman. I asked them which of all the leaders they had worked with, they most admired. Milton Friedman was quick to say that Margaret Thatcher was the most inspirational of all. She had the greatest hurdles to overcome and she achieved the most.

Today I mourn the loss of a courageous and inspirational woman. I respect her for being a leader of conviction who stood firmly for individuals, for families, and for Britain.

Baroness Thatcher, Rest in Peace. We have lost an icon.

Hon Judith Collins is the National MP for Papakura and Minister of Justice.

Further reading:

A selection of online reading

"What Twitter will look like the day Margaret Thatcher dies"

Guy Somerset: Carry on Margaret

Bryan Gould: Maggie's farm

Shane Frith: We are all better off for Thatcher’s Britain
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