Margaret Thatcher roundup (2): Or how Ireland came to love ‘the Anglo model’…

Much has been made of the great events of Margaret Thatcher’s career (the Journal.ie probably has what might pass as the definitive list of the top five in terms of Anglo Irish relations (which is how we quaintly used to refer to it back then). But the truth is the real relationship was deeper, more cultural and more subtle. And it manifested differently north and south.

– No matter what he thought of his country’s relations with Thatcher’s Britain, Charlie McCreevy was self evidently a fan of Thatcherite thinking long before he publicly acknowledged it as EU Commissioner responsible for Internal Market & Services back in 2005:

In a wide ranging address this afternoon, Mr McCreevy noted that the numbers sceptical about or hostile to the EU have grown in the last year, citing a Eurobarometer poll published today which shows that only 44% surveyed had a positive view of Europe.

The commissioner said one of the lessons of the poll was that people resent what he called unwarranted intrusions by Brussels into their national sovereignty.

He quoted the example of Austria where five years ago the EU tried to freeze diplomatic relations with the country because of the rise of Jorg Haider. Now he said Austria has a bigger majority hostile to Europe than any other country in the community.

Mr McCreevy claimed that the EU had allowed its economy to suffer. He said that needed to be remedied, and he held out the example of Margaret Thatcher who had turned around a sick economy. He said many member states in Europe today needed leaders like her. The Commissioner said he hoped they got them before long.

– Sentiments echoed by Shane Coleman in today’s Indo:

The irony that Margaret Thatcher was leading a country that was booming, while Ireland – due to a succession of indecisive and inept governments – was in the throes of recession was lost on us. Because the unpalatable truth back then was that Ireland needed a Thatcher of its own. It arguably does again today.

– And, if you can be bothered with the ads, clip to 36.30 on the Vincent Browne show, for an interesting insight as to how some of the Irish in Britain found her:

“On the building sites they had great time for her. They had great time for the simple reason that she had lowered tax for the working classes, or their element of the working class, the well paid working class.”

In the UK, Thatcher’s small state philosophy was a response to a humungous state bequeathed it by Atlee’s 1945 radical reforms, but philosphicially it was always likely to appeal to a state like the Republic’s which had never grown big nor ever had the resource to become a large player.

Small open economy it was, without any real penchant for ideology. BAnd when it came to it – at the end of the 80s – both government and opposition swallowed a large and very nasty monetarist pill towards the end of the 80s to which many ascribe its later prosperity under the Celtic Tiger…

Mrs T’s agressive policies in Northern Ireland may have made her unpopular political figure, but her influence was strong and even pervasive where it mattered in policy formation at the heart of successive Irish governments. It was the love that dare not speak its name.

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  • BarneyT

    In recent years, Ireland has not had a single party government with a substantial majority sufficient to set a course – good or bad? Perhaps there is not the same provision for leadership, even if someone with Thatcher’s idealogical tenacity emerges.

    Is it possible that Ireland’s natural political leaning would perhaps have appealed more to Thatcher if examined? I am not suggesting that is a good thing.

  • sherdy

    My bone of contention about Thatcher’s funeral is that I, as a taxpayer, will have to pay for it. The woman was a millionaire, she was even living in a top London hotel, so can she or her family not cough up for it?
    If the Westminster government made an appeal for her supporters and followers to contribute towards the £10m cost, that would be perfectly acceptable, but putting their hands in my pocket without my consent is arrogant theft, similar to her methods when in office.
    What is the chance of Westminster paying the very modest costs of my funeral when I depart this life? Zero.

  • I don’t have too much of a problem with Governments putting on a bit of a show for former PMs so long as they are consistent and it’s the same for all. It should of course be modest. I don’t know if they are going overboard with this particularly divisive one.