The Boston Bombing and Why Margaret Thatcher Matters Now More than Ever
by Michael Milton, Reformed Theological Seminary
The Boston bombing has only heightened the need for her style of unflinching leadership in today’s world. Yet The Daily Mail and others are reporting that this Wednesday, 17 April, as the funeral cortège bearing the body of Great Britain’s only female Prime Minister makes its way from the RAF chapel past Trafalgar Square and finally to St. Paul’s, where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are expected to be in attendance at the worship service, there is growing concern. The concern is not as much over another terrorist attack as in Boston but an attempt by a predictably small but vocal group of radical “Occupy-like” leftists looking for a cause—any cause will do—to conspire with their odoriferous gaggle of ungracious gripers to disturb the funeral processional of the late Baroness Thatcher. Never mind that such a threat lacks human decency over the passing of a beloved world figure—The Daily Mail disclosed that Tony Blair, Maggie’s political rival, chastised the would-be disrupters, remarking, “Even if you disagree with someone very strongly, you can still…show some respect”—but they seem to think they can somehow mar the miracle that was Margaret Thatcher. They can’t. Their antics will only draw attention to the fact “Maggie matters.” To borrow the subtitle phrase of Dr. Claire Berlinski’s fine book, There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters (Basic Books, 2011), Margaret Thatcher matters because of her indomitable spirit and because of her enduring values.
That indomitable spirit of Thatcher is well-known: from her humble statement that she doubted she would ever see a woman PM in her lifetime, to her resolute stance against a despotic Argentina testing her nerve in the Falkland conflict, to her famous “Iron Lady” stance against the Soviets, to her hard-fought, domestic transformation of a socialist Britain to a free market Great Britain. Her spirit was strong because her spirit was something that often today seems to be embarrassingly “American” to some Brits: she was patriotic. Her spirit was unashamedly British. She did not look to Europe. She looked to the West. She believed, as Churchill before her, that the future of Great Britain lay not with notions of a unified Europe, but with the reality of a unified English-speaking Peoples. In her 2002, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, she wrote:
“’Europe’ in anything other than the geographical sense is a wholly artificial construct. It makes no sense at all to lump together Beethoven and Debussy, Voltaire and Burke, Vermeer and Picasso, Notre Dame and St Paul’s, boiled beef and bouillabaisse, and portray them as elements of a ‘European’ musical, philosophical, artistic, architectural or gastronomic reality. If Europe charms us, as it has so often charmed me, it is precisely because of its contrasts and contradictions, not its coherence and continuity (328).”
Yet it was her values that mattered and matter so much today. The bedrock value that sustained Lady Thatcher was that inalienable rights came from God and not from government. She believed that Socialism was antithetical to freedom. Thatcher’s values of fueled her vision for privatization, tax reduction, free markets, strengthening British military (defending freedom), and a foreign policy that stood up for and defied any who denied God-given freedom to others. Her values were, in a word, “Judeo-Christian.” As Christianity Today recently posted, Margaret Thatcher was a lifelong, active believer in Jesus Christ. She once told a gathering of church leaders,
“We must not profess the Christian faith and go to Church simply because we want social reforms and benefits or a better standard of behaviour, but because we accept the sanctity of life, the responsibility that comes with freedom and the supreme sacrifice of Christ.”
It is good to remember, then, that Maggie will always matter not just because she read F.A. Hyack or was the key ally in the successful victory in the Cold War, but because the teachings of Jesus Christ mattered, matter, and will matter. Margaret Thatcher applied them in a such a stalwart way that some jackasses are downloading and singing “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.” Yet many more of us—now and for ages to come—will think of her and sing freely that British anthem that the Prime Minister herself quoted from when she addressed the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1988:
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
For in the end Margaret Thatcher mattered because her faith mattered. And her faith fueled her spirit and her values; and that transformed Britain and, indeed, the world for the better. No one can detract from that legacy. No group can disrupt that reality. Her gentle, iron spirit and shining values forged a pathway of peace for millions of souls under the evil weight of Communism, and saved a nation from Socialism to return to its rightful place on the world stage: Great Britain.
As terrorist send scorching shrapnel flying through the lives and limbs of innocent men, women and children in Boston, we remember to pray: God send us more leaders like Margaret Thatcher.