Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013

The free world has today lost one of its greatest leaders. For me, it hasn’t yet sunk in, and it probably won’t sink in for some time.

It’s more than 22 years since she lost office, but it seems like yesterday that she left Downing Street.

And her words on that occasion, as she faced the cameras as prime minister for the last time, cannot be bettered when it comes to her legacy: “We’re leaving Downing Street for the last time after 11-and-a-half wonderful years, and we’re very happy that we leave the United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here eleven and a half years ago.”

The only thing missing is that she could have said “the world” rather than “the United Kingdom”.

She was a conviction politician of the very first order. She was right on all the key issues of the day – the Falkland Islands, the unions and so on.

Her relationship with Ronald Reagan was also very special, and the two of them were a force for so much good.

Today is not the day to politicise her death, but in these troubled times there’s one quote of hers that stands out to me. She was talking about consensus: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus’?”