There is usually something wrong with leaders who change things. Or so goes the hypothesis of Gautum Makunda. And in assessing Margaret Thatcher’s legacy one can’t help but agree with him. In fact, it is wholly appropriate that Winston Churchill was the last person to get the kind of funeral that Thatcher is about to receive. Not because the Falklands is comparable to World War II, but because Churchill was batshit crazy too.
Churchill was too embarrassingly colonialist even for Tories with Victorian sensibilities. He made a hash of almost every ministry or initiative he headed, and was only given the Prime Ministership at a time when it looked like the entire UK government might end up being a thing of the past anyway.
Thatcher too, ascended under similarly unlikely circumstances. Her colleagues barely knew her and, as a woman, she was perhaps the least likely of her colleagues to become Tory leader. She only managed to assume the leadership because she was pitted against a candidate who had failed before, and – at the time of party candidate selection – faced a political environment that made a Conservative win unlikely.
Today, of course, we are steeled against letting such crazies anywhere near public office. Our Presidents and Prime Ministers must display the qualities of ‘born’ leaders. Captains of their Football teams, Presidents of their Law Reviews, Leaders of their Boy Scout troupes. It is lucky that most Western electorates do not believe in reincarnation, else they’d likely demand written records of their candidate’s exceptional performance in their past life as a grasshopper.
Our leaders must be sober, rational people who will ‘consider’ everything so that they can, in the end, come to the conclusion that it is sober and rational to do very little(which, of course, it always is).
As those on the left pine for unspecified radical changes to rid the world of neoliberalism, and those on the right bemoan the fact that they just don’t make leaders like Margaret Thatcher anymore. Perhaps this is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our own attitudes to the sober rational people we keep appointing to make the changes that only a crazy person would make.