Paul Johnson: Thatcher Arrived 'Just in Time' for Britain

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 02:42 PM

By David A. Patten

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Author, historian, and close adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Paul Johnson told Newsmax Monday that the Iron Lady came along "just in time" to save Britain from socialist economic policies and restore the self-respect of the British people.

Johnson, who served as close adviser and speech writer to Thatcher, predicted that she will go down in history as the greatest peace time prime minister in British history. She died Monday after a stroke following months of poor health.

When Thatcher rose to power as Prime Minister in 1979, she became the first woman in modern times to lead a major Western power. She immediately declared her intention was to shift Britain from a "give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation."

"I think she did save Britain," Johnson told Newsmax on Monday, "because Britain in the 1970s was going downhill, and she came along just in time. She saved us from the anarchy of the unions, she saved us from fiscal irresponsibility and a huge deficit, she saved us from surrender to the Argentines, and above all, she gave back the British their self-respect. Now that is a considerable achievement, and it makes her far and a way the best peacetime prime minister of the 20th century. She'll go down in history with that accolade."

Beyond her Reaganesque focus on reducing high tax rates, and her willingness to battle the entrenched British labor unions that fought back with strikes and riots, Thatcher proved her temerity in foreign policy as well.

"She could also be a very good wartime prime minister, and she proved that when she defeated the Argentines," said Johnson, the author of 40 books who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006 from then-President George W. Bush. "So all around she was one of our greatest prime ministers, and she will be remembered in history as such."

When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, many Western powers, including the United States, urged restraint and diplomacy. But the Iron Lady responded by ordering the British Fleet to take back the islands. They did so after a 10-week conflict that is remembered for demonstrating the havoc that sea-based cruise missiles could wreak on military vessels and cargo ships.

Johnson added that despite Thatcher's image as a staunch ally of America and an indomitable voice for freedom, she had quite the sense of humor as well.

"I am very grateful that I had the privilege of knowing her, and working with her, and spending a lot of time with her," Johnson reminisced. "Because she was always above all resolute and courageous and decisive and full of action. But she was also great fun!

"There were lots of laughs when she was around," he added. "I liked her very much, and I feel very privileged to have known her so well."

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