Saturday, April 27, 2013

Disciplining Margaret Thatcher

Times article about the authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore picks up (as does the Guardian) on the memo written by the then head of her policy unit, Sir John Hoskyns, which accused her of bullying her weaker colleagues. Sir John went on, "To survive you have an absolute duty to change the way you operate." The Falklands war followed and the rest is history. I don't think most people knew at the time that the sending of the task force would end in war but winning in the Falklands changed people's attitude to the prime minister.

AN Wilson (see Mail article) argues that Thatcher was not in the true sense a bully because she "reserved her fire for those who - if they had any spunk - were in a position to fight back". I'm not so sure. Her unwanted and unreasonable conduct itself determines whether it is regarded as bullying. I'm not advocating the bullying application of bullying policy (see previous post). She may well have believed that she alone rescued Britain from its post-1945 years of semi-socialist decline, but not everyone benefits from capitalism (see previous post). To analyse any situation from the perspective of the objective and reasonable person is never straightforward as personal experience and judgments will inevitably taint perception. However, she failed to create an environment in which people have the right to be treated with consideration, dignity and respect.