Margaret Thatcher was a giant amongst men. We know this to be true not only by the reaction to her passing, but by the very fact that the term Thatcherism will live on both in Britain and throughout the world.
Her blend of economic liberalism, robust foreign policy, personal social conservatism, devout unionism and Hayekian philosophy of individual freedom under the rule of law not only changed Britain, but required her opponents to change too if they were to be electable after she left office.
Such was the depth of collectivism in Scotland that more Thatcherism was required, not less. Scotland was more dependent on the heavy industries that could not compete internationally, more reliant on state and municipal planning and investment, more unionised – and therefore all the more resistant to change. And yet by 1990, Scottish industry had been transformed, to the extent that modern businesses had opened up, making Scotland the wealthiest part of the UK only behind London and the south-east, with new Scots success stories, new entrepreneurs and a new confidence and hope.
Of course there is a deep hatred of Margaret Thatcher among some of those whose politics she defeated, evidenced by some disrespectful comments on hearing of her death. Such vindictiveness only serves to underline how important it was that her causes were triumphant. It also explains the existence of a Thatcher mythology that is nurtured in Scotland to this day.
Most prevalent is that Margaret Thatcher used Scotland as a guinea pig for the poll tax, a falsehood concocted to make her appear anti-Scottish when she was no such thing. In fact she believed the whole of Britain should change to the community charge at the same time. It was only after the pleading of Scottish secretary George Younger and Jim Goold, her Scottish party chairman, that she agreed to Scotland having the tax a year early.
She may not be missed by all in Scotland, but the benefits of Thatcher’s premiership will always be with us.