Thursday, February 11, 2016

Time for both sides to stop channelling Mrs Thatcher

I've had quite enough of people on both sides of the Brexit debate arguing on the basis of which way the late Margaret Thatcher would supposedly have voted in the forthcoming referendum.

The simple facts are that

1) we don't know, and
2) it's not relevant anyway, and
3) there is no single answer because her views about the institution which is now called the European Union changed dramatically over her political career.

Opposition Leader Margaret Thatcher DID vote and campaign for "Remain" (appeared as "Yes" on the ballot paper at the time) in the last referendum on British membership in 1975. But that was on the basis of the situation as she saw it 41 years ago.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed the Single European Act and used a three-line-whip to push it through the House of Commons and into British law. She was far more pragmatic and less anti-EU while in office than she became later. But that reflects her views 30 years ago and for a few years afterwards

Baroness Thatcher, however, after stepping down from the role of Prime Minister became far more critical of the EU and did suggest that some of her own earlier positions may have been mistaken. That reflects her views between about 1995 and 2013 and is also out of date.

For what it is worth, I suspect that those who think Prime Minister Thatcher would have voted "Remain" and those who think Baroness Thatcher would have voted "Leave" are both right. That doesn't really get us anywhere, does it?

Fascinating as the debate about what Maggie would have done may be, it is a distraction. Better to focus on how we can best protect British security, jobs and trade under both "Leave" and "Remain" scenarios.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Hmmm. Yes, I tend to agree here. Which ever side wins this referendum will do so in spite of their campaign, rather than because of it.

Chris Whiteside said...

Quite.