Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Rights & Wrongs of Margaret Thatcher

Former South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha has rounded on David Cameron for criticising Margaret Thatcher's policy towards South Africa.

"She did more to change apartheid than the Labour Party or any other party in Britain... In private conversations, as well as in letters exchanged between herself and PW Botha (then prime minister of South Africa), she consistently made it clear to us that she was firmly opposed to apartheid and any form of racial discrimination," he said. ..She consistently appealed to us to release Mr Mandela... When you spoke within the old National Party (NP) ranks, United Nations resolutions and the hostility shown by the Soviet Union and others had no impact. But when you said, 'I must warn you, this is what President Reagan told me, this is what Mrs Thatcher told me, these are people who are well disposed towards us and if they say this we've got to change,' I could use their views to persuade the conservative sections within the NP to accept change."

Before the Leftist readers on this blog react in the way I might expect them to, they should bear in mind the final sentence of the story. "Mr Botha said he did agree with Mr Cameron's assessment of Mr Mandela as "one of the greatest men alive".

I have to say that I think Botha is bang on the money. As I recall it, he was one of the more liberal members of the South African regime who was instrumental in helping PW Botha with the transition from Apartheid to democracy, so let's not have any knee-jerk reactions please.

I have no great problem with David Cameron saying he thinks Margaret Thatcher was wrong on South Africa. It's just that I happen to disagree with him. That's not to say I believe she was right on everything. I don't. What this episode demonstrates is a danger for the Cameron leadership.

In a quest to appear different and to build a New Model Conservative Party it is tempting to junk the past. But by highlighting only the areas which a past Conservative Government might have got wrong, it almost encourages people to forget that very good things, the triumphs, the successes of the very same government. It is a very difficult balance to get right. It would be nice, from time to time, to hear a little bit more about what Margaret Thatcher got right, while making the point that that was then and this is now and we face entirely different electoral, economic and social circumstances in which we have to build a new policy platform.

Read the full article on Pik Botha in the Sunday Telegraph HERE.


Anonymous said...

This whole matter is caused by Cameron having too many teenage scribblers around him. No experience and lazy. Yes lazy otherwise they would have checked what Thatcher actually did before dropping Cameron in it.

Wibble said...

You could argue in this age of spin it's not what Margaret Thatcher did with regard to Apartheid, but what people think she did, which is a totally seperate thing.

It would be a pity if we went down that route though - there's a very important point being made about how to deal with foreign governments with repugnant domestic policies, and Pik Botha appears to making that point rater well.

The Druid said...

There in a nutshell you have the difference between a statesman and a hack. Baroness Thatcher clearly didn't like apartheid any more than the rest of us decent centre right folk. But she didn't grandstand; instead she quietly applied pressure. If you talk to South Africans they will tell you that the much maligned policy of sanctions was biting hard. Fast forward to now and we have our new Sultan of Spin Cameron who thinks he can should how 'nice' us Tories really our by being disparaging about Baroness Thatcher's successful policy. Who does he think he is kidding? Lightweight opportunism if ever I saw it. He will be queuing up to shake Bono's hand next.

strapworld said...

The greatest Prime Minister..E V E R!

Now beat that Cameron!

beg portillo to return. HE will return the tories to true blue policies and also see orft the opposition.

Cameron is a PR man, absolutely no substance beyond the headlines.

UK Daily Pundit said...

Only a fool could fail to see that both Thatcher AND Blair improved the lot of the British people. Of course they made mistakes. But show me a man or woman who hasn’t made a mistake and I’ll show you a person who has never had to make a decision.

I’m feeling quite profound today, Mr Dale.

david kendrick said...

Many Tory supporters don't understand what DC is trying to do. It is not difficult to follow, and he is 100% consistent.

He realises that his party's problem isn't their policies, but the perception of the party. Everything he does is aimed at addressing the imbalance between the popularity of the policies, and the popularity of his party.

He is rebranding really effectively, despite dimmer tory members.

His weakness is those he has around him---the team looks thin, and one-paced. It doesn't look 'ready for govt'.

garypowell said...

At last Iain nails his flag to somekind of flagpole, I hope this becomes a habbit.

However I dont think this all matters much, there are going to be even less people who can remember the politics of the 1970s in 2009 than there is now. Which is not that many. Of these people their minds on who they vote for have already been made up.

As you rightly indicate, to understand the Thatcher government you have to understand the context from which it was opperateing.

Personal experience is required, as the BBCs version of events always was, and still is now, simple authoritarian socialist propergander.

By 2009, the 1970s will be, and seem, a long time ago. Although the problems we as a country will have, will more than likely, not be so different.

Whatever the media says I like you will be at the funeral crying my heart out anyway.

garypowell said...

The UK daily pundit.

It is not prime ministers ministers or indead any politicians that makes life better for people.

Good politicians are only doing good things when they ALLOW the people to improve their own lives.

Which is not only the only way to improve them, it is the only sustainable improvement worth having anyway.

In this Tony Blair has not been a compleat wast of time. More, I would say, a holding opperation.

The "ratchet effect" is now working in the opposite direction I HOPE and beleive.

The Druid said...

David (Kendrick) - just a reply from a dimmer Tory if you don't mind.

There is a big difference between re-branding and gesture politics. Cameron is leaning towards the latter. The Mandela business is simply that, a gesture. The apple pie and motherhood platitudes of 'Built to Last' are another example if you need it. Where's the beef? Little comment on the big challenge of our times, namely dealing with the terrorist threat, too much with a green tinge and too little detail. Add that to the wannabe celebrity activity and I am pretty disillusioned. We should be way ahead in the polls. Instead we are 'celebrating' a tiny lead, nothing enough for a majority under the current electoral arrangements which need I remind you disadvantage us badly.

The big event of the summer was the war in the Lebanon.I find it amazing that the Conservatives were silent during the recent Lebanon war. Israel has its faults. But at the end of the day it is liberal democracy fighting for its survival against thugs and tyrants. Just the sort of country the old TP would have instinctively support. What did we get from Cameron? Guff about work showers for Lycra louts AKA cyclists on Radio 1 and some vapid nonsense from Hague on proportionality.

I want someone with gravitas and leadership skills. Not a replacement for Des O'Connor's sofa.

As for being dim. I'm with Willie Whitelaw who said that brains were a disadvantage in the Tory Party before adding "Thank God I don't have any!"

fairdealphil said...

So now we are to believe that Margaret Thatcher did more to end apartheid than the Labour Party...

A simple fact:

Mandela has only ever spoken at two political conferences in the world - the ANC's and er, Labour's.

He came to thank the Labour Party for helping to end apartheid.

The great man seems to have forgotten to thank Mrs T.

How ungrateful eh?

billy said...

david kendrick said
He is rebranding really effectively

Well, he hasn't convinced this floating voter yet, and I was a Conservative Party member up to the end of John Major's leadership.

Fruning Graplecard said...

Come on Ian,

Apart from destroying the undemocratic stranglehold of the trades unions, establishing home-ownership, restoring national dignity, beating the Argies, telling Europe to fuck off, what did Margaret Thatcher do for us?

Little Black Sambo said...

UK Daily Pundit:
"Blair improved the lot of the British people."
Perhaps didn't preview before you published.

Johnny Norfolk said...

DC should put brain in gear before opening his mouth

strapworld said...

To Mr Kendrick.
(The 'dim and dimmer'of the Tory Party!!!!)

You obviously are placing yourself above we mortals who once were extremely proud to be in Maggie's Tory Party. The party, as it has been said, which gave back National Pride and achievement. We had a definate Foreign Policy and our borders were safe. She told the EU exactly where to go, although those that wish to re-write history --(like that pipsqueak Maud!)try to say she did the opposite in the EU.

Pray tell we mortals just what real policy Cameron articulates on foreign affairs please!

Cameron is not fit to walk in Lady Thatcher's shadow and for him to suggest she was wrong about South Africa has legitimised terrorism....but there again I expect to see him with the IRA shortly calling them freedom fighters.

Cameron is a Blair clone and will end up as mad as that man!!

Mr kendrick you carry on thinking the way you do! Have you found those fairies at the bottom of your garden yet? and has the Emperor got his new clothes on?

rigger mortice said...

'Cameron is a PR man, absolutely no substance beyond the headlines.'

It's not even harsh to say it any more.

the monarchist said...

The record shows that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada led the charge for Commonwealth sanctions against South Africa and Thatcher opposed it. I am a huge fan of the Iron Lady, but she was wrong on that score.

Peter Hitchens said...

And under the ANC South Africa has the world highest murder rate, falling foreign investment, and now land grab and the unreported murders of farmers. Please tell me why that is a success story? no woolly social liberalism please.

fairdealphil said...

Thanks for the history lesson Mr Botha.

And talking of rewriting history, did you know that when Mrs T. invited General Pincochet for tea, it was to give him a rollicking for his abuse of human rights.

oops, sorry.

am i being PC again?

Judge for yourself:

Stephen Tolkinghorne said...


Just another rank Limp-Dem opportunist. Perhaps the reason Mandela spoke at the New Labour Party's conference was because they asked him to, and the Tories didn't. What's that got to do with getting rid of apartheid ? Oh yes, nothing !

Anyway, Mandela was a Marxist, so Labour's Trotski-ites would have been right at home having him lecture them. Mrs T asking him over to give a speech at the Conservative conference would have been somewhat ridiculous. Perhaps he could have talked about the benefits of having state-owned and controlled industry ?

Fairdeal: re-writing history to suit the limp-left. A bit like your contributions towards getting lower bus fares for pensioners, no doubt.

As for Pinochet, he was an ally against Communism, and helped Britain during the Falklands. More than the commie alternative would have done. Oh, but you wanted the Falklands to be lost to Britain. Of course.

Anonymous said...

fairdealphil...if that is a photograph of your goodself, sir, I would suggest you urgently obtain an appointment for a good dentist. My wife ( a dental professional) advises that the dentures are a poor fit and also as a retired opthamologist I can see that you normally wear spectacles, which shows you are a very vain individual.Perhaps the rose tinted spectacles you normally wear when talking about third world matters should be changed!

hoping this advice will prove timely.

Anonymous said...

I have met Pik Botha! Reading this is greatly nostalgic to me. I remember working for the South African Democratic Party and we gave him well hell of a run for his money in his western Johannesburg seat of Westdene in the last old South African election. He is a good man and well liked.

griswold said...

World Bank Meeting, 2003. French rep to SA rep "To what do you attribute SA's economic and political success compared with the rest of Africa?". "Entre nous because we had 40 more years of white rule during which time we became fully industrialised and we(ANC) could see the mistakes of the early rush of the Belgians, Portugese and French for the door". Fairdealphil you are a stupid but well meaning idiot. Been to Africa.

realist said...

To Fairdealphil
If the labour party was so instrumental in ending Apartheid, how come they are so bloody quiet on what is happening in Zimbabwe in the present?

Oh! I'm so sorry, I forgot that our great leader was more interested in helping his handler, in toppling the regime in Iraq, which incidentaly was the only regime in the world that the Iranians had any fear of.

Flavious said...

I'd heap abuse on you fairdeal, but I like reading Iain's blog and on rare occasion I won't.

I'd suggest though you try and sell your lefty drivel to the people who have been trawled through your fine governments education scheme, they at least probably won't have the nouse to dismiss it.

John Ashworth said...

I worked on South African Trawlers and the Cape colour'd supported Maggie and where her great fans.

david kendrick said...

Some are asking 'where's the beef?', with DC's tory party. And 'I'm proud to have been a Thatcherite...'

There are rather more who believe that the big issue of the day is that the present govt is an incompetent and crooked shambles. How do we get them out? Tory policies are popular, but the tory party isn't.
And its only the tories who can get rid of this this govt.

DC believes that the key to doing so is by making the tories attractive again. He is right.

When DC criticises, say, MHT's attitude to SA, he is not addressing tory party members. It is part of a campaign to make floating voters have a warm feeling towards his party. It may not float your boat. Sobeit. But at least he is both trying hard, and being consistent in his objective.

Benedict White said...

The problem we have with South Africa and apartheid is that had the world not played it as it did we (the world) would not have acheived anything.

We needed good cops and bad cops in this. Some cpntructive engagement and some out right hostility.

In that sense Thatcher played her part.

Slagella said...

Such a tragedy. South Africa could have followed the fabulous progression of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, etc etc. Instead they chose to stick to the evil constitution inflicted on them by the Brutish. I wonder why?

Adrian Yalland said...

DC was wrong on this one - but that is just MHO.

But I don't for one minute believe he has not understood that Mrs. Thatcher was no freind of racism, or that it was just her not being prepared to dance to the tunes of the left in how she oppossed it!

I think that on this occassion he didn't get across what he was trying to say. I suspect that he was trying to say was 'Mrs. T was oppossed to the regime's approach to racial secregation, and said so privately with the South Africans on many occassions, but if it had have been me, I would have publicly oppossed it as well as privately trying to do something about it".

I suspect that, in a media world obsessed with 'Tory's ditch Thatherism' headlines, this was mana from heaven, and that DC might have been a bit unfairly representetd here! But I might be wrong as I cannot remember exactly what he said and I wasn;t at the interview!

God bless her anyway I say. she was right.

David Kendrick - excellent points - and very well made!

The rest of us, please stop writing DC off! He is not just a PR tosser. He is doing something quite profound. Let's give him a chance before we all knock him down.

Adrian Yalland said...

Fairdealphil. Sorry sir, but you are a bit bonkers really!

The reason why Mandella never spoke at a Tory party conference was for the same reason President Carter never did and President Clinton never will - they are on the political left. People on the political left - especially people still in office - don't get invited to speak on the main stand of a political party on the right! And I doubt that President Mandella would be too pleased with an invite to speak at a fringe event!

Reverse the logic for a second - even though Tony and Bush are best buddys, what is the chance of Bush appearing at a Labour party conference and thanking Labour for their support on the war on terror????

As for Pinochet - he was the ONLY person in South America who stood up against communism, and the only person who supported our right to liberate British citizens from the invading Argentinian army. That is why politically speaking, Chile under his rule was an important regional allie. He might not have been a democrat, and he certianly has some difficult questions to ask about stuff that happened nearly 30 years ago, but in your revision of history, you forget to mention the cruelty and murderous actions of the marxist regime he overthrew. Chile was slowly being tunred into a South America version of Cuba, except in a much more bloddy way!

Finally, it was always up to the Chilean people to deal with Pinochet, not a leftist Spanish judge and a foreign secretary with a grudge dating back 30 years! Jack Straw acted shamefully in this regard - and like a schoolboy debater rather than a statesman!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick point - surely the transition towards democracy came under F W De Klerk, not P W Botha who could never cross his Rubbicon

C4' said...

I suggest young Cameron read the Downing Street Years before he and lefties like Paul Burgin embass themselves in future.

I also agree with strapworld, Baroness Thatcher is the greatest PM this country has ever had. Churchill maybe the greatest Briton and rightly so, but as a Prime Minister he has been eclipsed by the Iron Lady.

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