Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

The Iron Lady left us today on April 8, 2013.

Stuart Varney singles out her most defining quote: “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

As it happens, she passed away on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). The Tablet reminds readers that the very first foray of Margaret Hilda Roberts and her older sister was raising to help them bring over their Jewish penpal girl from Austria after the Anschluss. The girl survived: in later years the Iron Lady would remark that that, to her, was the most worthwhile thing she ever did.

Among the many articles that Winston Churchill, during his days in the political wilderness before WW II, proposed to write for the magazines that employed him was “will there ever be a female Prime Minister?” His editor dismissed the suggestion as ‘too fantastic’.

Thatcher, a chemist turned barrister (what the British call a lawyer licensed to plead in court) who grew up in a grocery store, brought middle class virtues and ideological conviction to the Tories, and all her life felt most comfortable among self-made men of modest origins, many of them Jewish. She was not the first Tory PM of modest origins — that would have been Edward Heath — but she, more than anybody else, was responsible for ending the grip of the squirearchy on the Conservative Party. When she eventually stepped down, her successor John Major was again not a “spare” son of some high nobleman nor some old money grandee, but a former circus performer’s son who became a banking executive despite having quit school at age 16.

The Telegraph gathers reactions to her demise (updated every 90 seconds).  [It misattributes to Chris Patten (!), however, the response of British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks: “I first got to know her early on in my life when she was the local MP. She was loved and admired by many in the Jewish community who will miss her deeply. Few people in my lifetime have left such a personal imprint on British life.”]

Thatcher was revered by some and reviled by others — some of us did both at various times of our lives. She left virtually none indifferent. She was an original — as much as she was Middle England. Of common birth with common-sense virtues, she was a noble soul. Here is a very English anthem for a noble soul.