Vale to One of the Greats

With reputations traduced, private circumstances often becoming ammunition in the public debate and seemingly always being surrounded by those with politically hostile intent, politics is not for the faint of heart.

I have often said that politics is generally comprised of those who are genuinely motivated by affecting change, those who seek public profile or status and those who solely aspire to represent their local electorate. In some instances, politicians straddle all three groups.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham, quoting British MP Tony Benn, put it more succinctly by describing the political participants as maddies, fixers and straight men.

Whatever the state of mind of the players, few leave a memorable legacy in the mind of the public. Some are notable for a special speech or advocacy for a particular constituency. Some prick our conscience about social matters or create a genuine movement for change. However, the adage that ‘success has many fathers’ is particularly true in political life.

The early bell ringer or the workhorse who drives an agenda to the cusp of success is often forgotten as others who seek to claim credit for it themselves capture the media’s attention. Seldom do these spirits actually identify, plan and launch the battle themselves; preferring to leave the reputational risk to others. Only when it is a ‘sure thing’ do the political faint of heart emerge from their cocoons.

Among the many achievements of Sir Robert Menzies, he is probably best remembered as the founder of the Liberal Party and Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister. His ‘forgotten people’ speech of 1942 has passed into legendary status. Gough Whitlam’s leadership and chaotic government are recalled for the constitutional crisis they sparked. So too is Malcolm Fraser. Keating’s acerbic tongue and Hawke’s personality both loom large in their political record.

And these are some of our Prime Ministers. Largely forgotten are the many hundreds of ministers, committee chairmen and backbenchers who sacrificed a great deal in pursuit of their chosen vocation.

Even more galling is when the bounty of that commitment disappears in a relative blink of an eye. Most recently, the incredible diligence and stewardship of John Howard and his team, which placed Australia among the most envied of national economies, has been unravelled in five short years.

The incompetence of his successors will help ensure Howard is remembered as one of our best ever Prime Ministers but one can only imagine the frustration he must feel at what the Labor/Greens alliance has done to our country.

The national accounts have been sacrificed to appease vocal minority groups and half-baked policy proposals. Our social structures are being divided into a class warfare of providers and recipients and political correctness reigns supreme.

And yet, Mr Howard has maintained a dignity out of office that simply reinforces the character of the man and marks him as someone truly special.

Speaking of special politicians, Baroness Thatcher was truly an iconic figure to those of us on the centre-right of politics. She was a personal political hero of mine for the strength and steely resolve she displayed in doing what needed to be done.

Even those on the opposite side of the political spectrum mostly recognised what an incredible leader she was and how important her legacy has been to Great Britain and the world. Together with US President Ronald Reagan, she stared down the Soviet Union and brought an end to the Cold War. She restored common sense and productivity to her nation and defended it from hostile attacks at home and abroad.

Her memorable phrase “this lady’s not for turning” succinctly summed up just how tough and resilient she was.

And like our own man of steel, the Iron Lady (as Thatcher became known) had the dignity and courage to stay positive even as her successors tried to undo many of her achievements.

And yet, the same dignity was not afforded her on her death. Various grubs and bitter leftists actually celebrated the passing of this great lady.

A former sex worker who was hosted by your ABC on Q&A lamented the lack of champagne when hearing live on the show about Mrs Thatcher’s death. Parties broke out in parts of the UK by people whom, in many instances, were too young or too stupid to have even experienced the Thatcher era and the benefits afforded them. It was tribal in its venom and once again displayed the terrible entitlement mentality and crassness of character associated with many of those aligned with the political left.

Even our own Foreign Minister – the same one that appeared to have had a statue of Chairman Mao (that’s the communist who killed tens of millions of his countrymen) in his office during a recent television interview – couldn’t maintain a dignified silence, insisting upon disparaging her memory with an inappropriate story.

That said, despite the loathing of the left or perhaps in part because of it, Margaret Thatcher will be remembered as one of the great international leaders of the 20th century.

Her legacy will outlive those who have sought to tarnish it with their opportunistic attacks or dismantle it through the rewriting of history.

Vale to one of the greats.

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