Margaret Thatcher is one of my heroes and I have a three part series on her I am posting. “What We Can Learn from Margaret Thatcher,”By Sir Rhodes Boyson and Antonio Martino, Heritage Foundation, November 24, 1999, is an excellent article and here is a portion of it below:
What Can We Learn from Thatcher?
The lesson to be drawn is quite simple and not particularly encouraging: Mrs. Thatcher’s success owes much to the intellectual revolution in economic theory. She did not invent anything new; there was nothing novel or original in her economic policies. However, while those ideas had been available for a long time, they had not been translated into policy changes until she came about. It was her leadership, courage, determination, and intellectual integrity that allowed those intellectual insights to inspire actual economic policies and change Britain.
Which brings me to my unpleasant conclusion: The limiting factor in politics today is not the comprehension of the nature of social problems and of their desirable solution — even though we still have a long way to go to make the case for economic freedom fully grasped by the majority of public opinion and of politicians. The really scarce resource is leadership. A principled and uncompromising leader capable of building a coalition, a majority consensus around his platform is essential if we want to move toward a freer world.
Unfortunately, however, the likes of Thatcher and Reagan are not in large supply, and we can’t wait for another one to come about. “So long as the people of any country place their hopes of political salvation in leadership of any description, so long will disappointment attend them.”37 We must continue polishing our case, making it more convincing, exploring new ways to enlarge our freedoms, and above all converting politicians to our cause. This is what Heritage is all about.
Antonio Martino is Professor of Economics at LUISS “G. Carli” University in Rome. He is currently on leave as a Member of Parliament. He delivered these remarks at a meeting of The Heritage Foundation’s Windsor Society in Sea Island, Georgia, on October 3-6, 1999.