IAN HART: Would UK be different had Maggie lost the Falklands?
This week saw the 35th anniversary of the outbreak of the Falklands War. Earlier this year I looked after a lady whose son was a veteran of that conflict.
After the service I was invited for coffee by him and his family and the events of 1982 came into our conversation.
In his opinion, the victory was never as clear cut or emphatic as history now suggests. The Argentinians, with better leadership, could have won, and a victory would have certainly ended Mrs Thatcher’s tenure in Number 10 a full eight-and-a-half years before her eventual departure.
But how would the history of this country have been altered without Maggie, post-1982?
A senior Tory MP once told me Maggie’s biggest trait was that if she believed in something, whether it was right or not, no-one or nothing would change her mind.
And many would say that’s the crux of the whole thing? The Lady was clearly not for turning. But would her successor have actually taken and acted on expert advice? Would they have not only sold off council housing, but built a new house for every one sold, giving the next generation coming through the opportunity to benefit from social housing? Would her successor have sold off the nation’s utilities?
Shares made people money in the short term, but 35 years on, most of our energy suppliers are foreign-owned.
Would her successor have effectively dismantled regional commercial television?
On the flip side, would her successor have stood up to Arthur Scargill?
27 years after she left Downing Street, her legacy continues to polarise opinion. Even after her death, she is both championed and derided.
This is something which I’m sure will continue for decades to come. But if history had turned out differently, would a post-1982 UK without Maggie now be a more tolerant, caring and perhaps even prosperous nation than we have today?
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