Weather maker

"Weather maker" Continued...

Issue: "Boston Terrorthon," May 4, 2013

The bomb blast, planted by the IRA and intended for the prime minister, had taken a toll: five killed, including two longtime party leaders, and 34 injured. But Thatcher insisted the conference continue and gave her speech as scheduled the next day—“defiant but icily composed,” according to one reporter. It set a tone for Western leaders confronting similar threats in decades to come—even those planning her funeral only days after the Boston Marathon bombing: “The fact that we are now here, shocked but determined to continue, is a sign not only that this attack has failed but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”

That grit and raw patriotism seemed to overwhelm staunch opponents in the days following Thatcher’s death. Labour Party adversary Tony Blair called Thatcher “a towering figure.” British editor Allister Heath, while critical of many of her policies, wrote: “If only one of her disciples had been in power in the 2000s, we wouldn’t be in anything like the mess we are in today.”

Once blasted as “Thatcher the milk-snatcher” for cutting universal free school milk, and lampooned by comedians, Thatcher in death drew outsized attention bordering on downright admiration. The Daily Telegraph carried a look at “how Thatcher inspired the fashion world,” noting that she described her always-present handbag as “the only safe place in Downing Street.”

As Thatcher’s funeral procession began through London on April 17, crowds six deep greeted the gun carriage bearing her coffin. They applauded, cheered, and whistled, some throwing flowers and most drowning out anti-Thatcher demonstrators. Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth (attending her first funeral for a former prime minister since Winston Churchill’s in 1965) drew top billing among a throng of heads of state and other dignitaries. 

Bishop of London Richard Chartres in his homily quoted Thatcher: “Christianity offers no easy solutions to political and economic issues. It teaches us that we cannot achieve a compassionate society simply by passing new laws and appointing more staff to administer them.” That was the heart of the British leader, who championed a firm moral order, limited government, individual freedom, and the will to pursue each.


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