Posts tagged ‘Margaret Thatcher’

Margaret Thatcher

Born at the fag-end of Callaghan’s Premiership I, unlike some who have recently been emoting vehemently, lived through the Winter of Discontent and all of Baroness Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. Not being a child prodigy, I cannot though claim to have memories of seeing and experiencing much of the events of the time first hand. As for those born after she left office who apparently know so much of what life was like under her, I can only say that I am in awe.

My knowledge of her time – and the events leading up to her 1979 election victory – is the result of what my parents have said and what I have read over the last 20 or so years. I do however know that there is a lot of difference between words on the page and first hand experience.

She was not perfect – no person, especially a politician, ever will be and anyone who seriously claims that they are should be referred to the nearest loony bin ASAP – but so far as my interpretation of her time goes, she left this country in a far better shape economically than it was when she started.

My memories of events in the world around me go back to the mid/late 1980s. I recall my mum watching the wedding of Prince Andrew, I saw Challenger explode on the news and I loved some of the privatisation adverts but I have little memory of almost all of the politics of the day.

Politically the first thing I remember is the Poll Tax and the brouhaha which surrounded it. Although a political disaster for the Conservatives and the policy which triggered Lady Thatcher’s downfall, it is perhaps ironic that my contempt for the hypocrisy of socialism can probably be dated to this time.

Whilst my dislike (and eventual hatred) of tax didn’t begin until I had to start paying it in its most obvious forms (Income, NI, Council) I became aware of its existence as a result of the Community Charge. A flat rate tax with every adult paying the same, my young mind couldn’t, initially, work out why socialists, with their commitment to everyone being treated equally, would object to being taxed equally. It was the eventual realisation that people don’t always mean what they say which allowed me to understand that perhaps socialists don’t like the idea equality in practice – let alone when it applies to them.

RIP Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.

Happy birthday sweet 16 M25

London’s ‘Orbital Car Park’, better known as the M25 (or, for those in the know, the sigil odegra*), turned 25 today.

Encircling London, aside from the six mile stretch on the east side where the road crosses the Thames at Thurrock (this stretch is designated as the A282**), the 117 mile behemoth was built over a period of 13 years and is the second longest ring road in Europe as well as being one of the busiest roads on the continent.

The first section of the road opened in 1975 between South Mimms (now junction 23) and Potters Bar (now junction 24) with the last section between London Colney (junction 22) and South Mimms being officially opened by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on this day in 1986.

Traffic levels on this new motorway were soon far beyond designed capacity leading to plans to widen it to four lanes each way being considered. Those never fully come to fruition but some widening has taken place with the stretch between junctions 12 and 14 being 5 lanes in each direction and that between junctions 14 and 15 having 6. The sections between junctions 16 and 23 and junctions 27 to 30 are in the process of being widened to 4 lanes and this work should be completed in 2012.

For me the M25, for all of its annoyances, is almost unavoidable because there is simply no other road to use if I wish to head south or west. As for going north, it is potentially avoidable but that depends on how far north I am heading.

Join me then by lifting a glass or two of your favourite tipple and saluting the birthday of this most frustrating of roads – before drowning the rest of the bottle as you think of how much hassle it will cause you in the next 25 years.

* If you haven’t read ‘Good Omens’ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett this will mean nothing to you. MG politely suggests that you may wish to remedy this failing.

** If it wasn’t then non-motorway traffic wouldn’t be able to cross the river at any point further east than the Woolwich ferry. Imagine the fun that would cause.