x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Margaret Thatcher:a woman of principle

Margaret Thatcher had a quality rarely found in political leaders: moral clarity.

What made Margaret Thatcher such a polarising figure, in Britain and around the world, was a quality rarely found in political leaders: moral clarity.

Her death on Monday at age 87 has evoked, from pundits and plain people alike, great torrents of both reverent praise and bitter contempt. Few people were, or are, indifferent to the personality and policies of the "Iron Lady".

As prime minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990, Mrs Thatcher was not the kind of politician - so sadly common around the world then and now - who calculates every decision to the fourth decimal point of poll results. Those who love her and those who despise her agree that she assessed the great issues on the basis of principles - and stuck to them. No doubt that is why she was never very popular personally; her long survival in office was due largely to victory in the 1982 Falklands War - which she fought on a point of principle, that naked aggression must be resisted.

Around the world today, the norm is that political leaders are eager to compromise on almost any principle when it is unpopular. This often leads to inflamed sectarian or regional divisions, ever-increasing deficits and myopic popularism. That was not Maggie Thatcher's way.