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The ladys not discerning Statecraft Margaret Thatcher 608pp HarperCollins As I was finishing Margaret Thatchers Statecraft it was announced that our former prime minister would be making no more public speeches because of ill health I was sad to hear that news - both for Lady Thatcher herself and because it would be a pity if this book were her last major contribution to public debate I fear that those who put it together - doubtless working from speeches and unguarded table talk - have done her a disservice and I hope that it will not do too much damage to the reputation of a formidable prime minister whose delayed retirement from politics will I hope be long happy and healthy One reason for Thatchers success in politics was that she always knew at least until near the end of her premiership that it was wise to alight from the train before it hit the buffers While denouncing the notion that politics was the art of the possible that is exactly what she practised albeit skillfully and bravely redefining the limits of political possibility Thatcher did not privatise the railways nor dismantle the National Health Service She signed the Single European Act She did not take on the miners until she could beat them She tried to bring back to earth Ronald Reagans flights of fancy over Star Wars That is not the Thatcher of these pages What we have here is a manifesto for the hard right of the Republican party - Richard Perle with knobs on Its a manifesto for Orange County but not for modern Britain Oh dear oh dear oh dear as Willie Whitelaw would have said To be fair there are many good things which may be overlooked The assessment of President Putin and the challenges facing Russia is shrewd and balanced and the chapters on Asia are excellent After describing a difficult meeting with the then
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