Το εβδομαδιαίο περιοδικό Newstatesman κάθε άλλο παρά μπορεί να κατηγορηθεί για συντηρητικές ή νέο-συντηρητικές συμπάθειες –πιθανότατα, ούτε καν για παραχωρήσεις προς την γοητεία της διακυβέρνησης του Blair. Παραμένει -πέρα από μεταμοντερνιστικούς καθωσπρεπισμούς- σταθερά ένα μαχητικό και κυρίως ανεξάρτητο περιοδικό της λονδρέζικης Κεντροαριστεράς.
Κι όμως, η στάση του αυτή δεν εμπόδισε στο παραμικρό τους αναγνώστες του –που συμμετείχαν κατόπιν πρόσκλησης του περιοδικού- να αναδείξουν μεταξύ των 5 πρώτων «ηρώων της εποχής μας» την Margaret Thatcher. Η ανάδειξη της Σιδηράς Κυρίας – «εκείνη που άλλαξε τα πάντα», όπως εύστοχα επισημαίνει και ο τίτλος της παρουσίασης της- φαίνεται ότι ξάφνιασε και τους επιτελείς του περιοδικού που έσπευσαν να αναρωτηθούν για τους λόγους που το αποτύπωμα της παραμένει όχι μόνο αναλλοίωτο και ευκρινές αλλά πάνω από όλα «ζωντανό» στη συλλογική μνήμη.
She changed everything
5 Margaret Thatcher - British Conservative prime minister, 1979-90
Ice-cream chemist who became Iron Lady; still dominates British politics years after leaving office
When Margaret Thatcher was asked what she had changed about British politics, she answered, with uncharacteristic immodesty, "Everything" - and it was true. She changed the atmosphere of the pre-emptive cringe that successive ministries of both parties and industrial management had exhibited towards the trade unions ever since the Second World War. She changed the sense of embarrassment that Britons felt towards the concepts of productivity and profit. She changed our reliance on manufacturing industry just in time, inaugurating the services and information technology revolutions. She changed the post-Suez attitude of appeasement and post-imperial guilt. She changed British politics so fundamentally that the Labour Party had to drop socialism and change its name and objectives in order to get elected.
Along with her friend and ideological soulmate Ronald Reagan, Thatcher changed the failing policy of détente with communism into the confrontational one that eventually brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989. She changed the ownership structure of vast industries, exchanging the nebulous concept of "national" ownership for the more efficient, purer (and ultimately fairer) one of shareholder ownership. She changed the way we financed the European Union budget. Meanwhile, she fundamentally changed for the worse the career paths of Jim Callaghan, General Galtieri, Michael Foot, Arthur Scargill, Neil Kinnock and the IRA activist Bobby Sands.
Those things that she did not change for the better she would have, if she hadn't been knifed by an overambitious cabal of cowards, fools, traitors and - worst of all - Europhiles, who split the Tory party and left it feuding for half a generation, until the advent of Michael Howard in 2003. The 1992 election victory was largely down to her legacy rather than the non-leadership of her absurd successor, John Major.
By encouraging George Bush Sr not to "wobble" during the first Gulf war, she set the international scene that has allowed Tony Blair to finish off the campaign against Saddam Hussein that she started in 1990, further strengthening the "special relationship" with the United States that both she and Blair so fervently believe in.
Margaret Thatcher told it like it was, in a way that so few politicians seem able to do nowadays. When she came to power in 1979 Britain was in a terrible state, with huge areas of our nationalised industries collapsing, a government in craven retreat from the trade unions and the country teetering on the brink of relegation from the second division of world powers. She recognised that only extreme shock tactics and a searing honesty of the type seldom seen in politics could shake the British people out of their torpor.
She was always true to her word. When she said the lady wasn't for turning, she wasn't. When she said the Falklands must be liberated come what may, they were. When she said that people would be allowed to buy their own council houses, they were, too. When she told European politicians that she wanted a rebate on the billions Britain overpaid the Community, she held out until she got one.
There's a downside to all this refreshing candour. The kind of permanent revolution she offered did not suit everyone, and eventually she was overthrown. But she went down fighting for her principles; no one was in any doubt about what she stood for and what she believed in. You might not have agreed with her, but you can't deny that hers was an honesty of the kind hardly ever heard from today's so-called leaders. That, I suspect, rather than her free-market ideology, is why New Statesman readers have finally acknowledged her heroism in this unexpected, if welcome, way.
Η σχετική λίστα περιλαμβάνει το Top50 των «ηρώων της εποχής μας», μεταξύ αυτών και ο σημερινός πρωθυπουργός του Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου (την σχετική παρουσίαση υπογράφει ο γνωστός Anthony
He has given the Tories hell
18. Tony Blair - British Prime Minister
Architect of new Labour; Labour's longest-serving PM
Like him or loathe him, Blair is a global figure. In the postwar period, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher are the only other British prime ministers to have been known across the world. Nationally, too, he has had a formidable impact. The Labour Party probably would have won under John Smith in 1997 - and yet, without the ideological changes Blair pioneered, such a landslide would have been unlikely.
Blair has guided Labour to three successive electoral victories. No previous Labour leader has come even close to that. Moreover, if the party can patch up its internal problems, it has an excellent chance of winning again.
Blair has seen off four Tory leaders. Perhaps more importantly, he has sunk the xenophobic programme that defined the Conservatives for so long. David Cameron has had to try to move on to Blair's ground to have any chance of success. New Labour aimed to make Britain more social democratic, concerned as it was to accept cosmopolitanism, invest in public services and alleviate poverty. The Tories have now accepted that agenda, although they will find it very hard to sell to a large section of their core supporters.
A fundamental part of Blair's approach has been to emphasise the importance of the economy, and it has paid off handsomely. His governments have been the first to be trusted on the economy ahead of the Conservatives, who used to hold this as their trump card. About 75 per cent of the UK labour force is in work, compared to an EU average of 63 per cent. This figure has been achieved with a substantial minimum wage. Britain remains a highly unequal society, but it is the only one in the EU where poverty has markedly decreased over the past nine years.
Blair has made mistakes. But I would defy anyone to find a political leader who hasn't. He has been daring in international relations. He persuaded the US to commit ground forces in Kosovo, preparing the way for a Nato victory. British intervention in Sierra Leone was successful. Peace seems to have come to Northern Ireland, to which Blair gave much personal time.
Iraq is another matter. I don't believe Blair acted in bad faith. The US would almost certainly have invaded whether Britain was involved or not. At this point, everyone - for or against the intervention - has to hope that somehow a decent society will emerge. We will never know whether Iraq would have suffered even more had Saddam Hussein's murderous regime stayed in power.