Categorized | News, Opinion


There is a very thoughtful article right here in the UK Independent from Yasman Alibhai-Brown on the idea of a “centre” at Oxford University named after former PM Margaret Thatcher.  Alibhai-Brown feels that it would debase the university for it to take the money to do the center named after Baroness Thatcher:

An academic centre named after her in Oxford would transgress and betray the principles and morality of university education. As one emeritus professor says: “It is inconceivable that Congregation should accede to such a naming.” Her ideas and record should be taught and debated freely, but a centre bearing her name is a statement of undisputed greatness.

I think Alibhai-Brown is onto something.  Of course I think PM Thatcher indeed exhibited undisputed greatness.  She tamed the trade unions, liberated the Falklands, introduced Mikhail Gorbachev to the world and then stood fast with Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and others to liberate Eastern Europe and the former USSR from communism.  Thatcher also articulated a clear free-market and conservative message and was an early euroskeptic.  Finally, PM Thatcher demonstrated that a woman can lead a great nation in a dramatic and effective manner.

Of course liberals and left-wingers will disagree.  I appreciate (but disagree) with the position that Alibhai-Brown takes on both the Thatcher centre and the state funeral concept.

But there was too much bad stuff. We remember her moves to wreck the welfare state (now pushed even further and harder by the Coalition), her ruthless instincts, her promotion of privatisation, her complete opposition to equality campaigns and laws, her utter disregard for human suffering, her support for apartheid, her awful behaviour over the Belgrano, her fondness for dictators generously armed by her government, her contemptuous Little Englander sentiments. What’s to admire in any of that?

Plans are afoot for a state funeral too, and that too would be a travesty. Unusually, the avowed Thatcherite admirer Peter Oborne agrees that such a send-off would rip us asunder. “There are too many people – for example, ship workers from Glasgow, miners, those whose livelihoods were destroyed” – who abhor her.

I’ll let this criticism stand on its own.  I think it does not hold water.  Nor does it disqualify Thatcher for a state funeral, although I do not know the criteria for a state funeral.  If any PM since Churchill warrants a state funeral, it is Margaret Thatcher (and maybe Tony Blair).  They changed the course of history.  Thatcher is the first woman PM in British history.

But I think Oxford should say no to a Thatcher Centre.  It would be perverted into liberalism.  Alibhai-Brown makes the case well:

A controversy is about to break out in Oxford. The hushed lives of dons are unsettled and cloisters begin to reverberate. Once more the cause is Margaret Thatcher, its infamous old girl, or according to some, “its most illustrious alumna”. In 1985, at an emotive meeting of its governing body, Congregation, 738 academics voted to refuse her an honorary degree, the first time an Oxford-educated Prime Minister had been denied the award. Then they were cross, not about the miners or her divisive politics, but the cuts she had made to higher education budgets.

But there is one place (at least) where a Thatcher Centre (spelled exactly like that) would be welcome and true to its name:  Hillsdale College in Michigan.  Here’s the website for Hillsdale.  Hillsdale is a conservative icon that has room for Ron Paulites as well as more traditional conservatism.

For the record, I have no affiliation with Hillsdale College and am not trying to speak for it.  I wanted to suggest a likely and superior place for an academic centre in honor of Margaret Thatcher.  Hillsdale College fits the bill.  Maybe the donor to Oxford (Wafic Said) would rather discuss the matter with the administration at Hillsdale – here’s the list!

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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