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The patriot who vanquished failure


"Soon after my election to Parliament in 1987, I happened to be walking through the Members’ Lobby when I observed an old friend, Michael Forsyth, a well-known Thatcherite who was later to become a leading light in the No Turning Back group. Michael had been elected in 1983 and by now had become a junior minister. He was running, literally running.

His hair was dishevelled and he was carrying not only his box, but somehow balancing a full tray of papers on his arm. 'Slow down,' I called out. 'Rome wasn’t built in a day,' I added as an afterthought.

'Yes,' cried Forsyth over his shoulder, as he swept past me. 'But Margaret wasn’t the foreman on that job.'"

That is David Davis. His recollections appear in the Telegraph's latest publication, Margaret Thatcher: A Tribute in Words and Pictures, edited by Iain Dale.

Those offering their tributes believe that Margaret Thatcher released the British people from decline and stagnation due to decades of socialism and defeatism. It is difficult to argue with them.

Davis again - "On the day in 1982 that the British task force set sail to recover the Falkland Islands from the Argentine invaders, Margaret Thatcher was asked on television: "If you fail, would you feel obliged to resign?" "Failure?" she answered, "Do you remember what Queen Victoria once said? 'Failure - the possibilities do not exist.'"

Margaret Thatcher's free market, free enterprise, free Falklands and free Eastern Europe programme did not please everyone. (Particularly it did not please the Soviets.)

Others despised her belief that individuals, not government, were meant to be compassionate and to help each other in a Christian country and that government's role was to protect them and to allow their creativity to flow.

She wrote -

"The spiritual dimension comes in deciding what one does with the wealth. How could we respond to the many calls for help, or invest for the future, or support the wonderful artists or craftsmen whose work also glorifies God, unless we had first worked hard and used our talents to create the necessary wealth?"

The sublime difference between Thatcher and the present government is that the present government believes its spiritual destiny is to take your money and spend it. Thatcher thought you should decide how to spend it. She also thought that the entrepreneurs who created jobs were doing something worthwhile.

She was not always right. No one is. She had principles, faith, an unflinching sense of reality, and the courage to believe that failure was not an option.

The book is available to Telegraph readers for just £10 (rrp £20) + £1.25 p&p. You can order online.