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The Word on the Week

Margaret Thatcher

The death of Margaret Thatcher has filled many column inches of our papers this week. Love her or hate her she has stirred almost as much passion in her death as she did in her life. She created a two tier Britain with an affluent South and a devalued North.

The grocer’s daughter understood and appreciated hard work and individualism, qualities which gave her the confidence to reach the top in what had been a man’s world.

As the 1st female prime minister she broke the mould and went on the break the unions! In Scotland she was known as Maggie – and it was not said with affection! Her use of the population North of the Border to experiment with the hated poll tax did not earn her any friends there.

Her callous indifference to the sufferings of the hunger strikers brought the “Troubles” in N Ireland to a new level and cemented the Nationalists opposition to her.

Abroad the Argentine Government, thinking that a female prime minister would roll over and die when they invaded the Falklands, made a gargantuan mistake! I can recall listening with disbelief to the TV broadcast of her speeches as she whipped up enthusiasm in the House of Commons for an all out war to rescue the Falklanders.

In Europe her reputation as “The Iron Lady” was well deserved. On one occasion when the UK were due a rebate which was not immediately forthcoming she endlessly repeated the phrases, “It’s our money” and “We want it back” and added “There is no alternative”, till she got her way. The expression “to be hand-bagged” arose from such encounters!

By the time she left office, the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that a free (and largely unregulated) market and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity— had won many disciples at home and abroad.

What comment can we elicit from Scripture?

Baroness Thatcher’s view of reality gives few indications of her faith. The championing of individual effort often at the expense of the good of society brings her into conflict with the work of the Good Shepherd. Indeed her comment on the parable of the “Good Samaritan” to the effect that he would not be remembered if he didn’t have money, speaks volumes!

It is in her single-mindedness to her cause which is reminiscent of Jesus setting his face to go to Jerusalem to complete the work his Father had given him.

As St Paul put it in Philippians Chapter 2; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So place your faith into the completed work of Jesus. As Maggie would say “There is no alternative!”