I’m writing this just 3 hours after hearing that she died this morning. It’s strange feeling of trying to assemble all my thoughts about the death of Margaret Thatcher.
When I was 7, I remember putting my hand up in class and answering a question about her becoming the first woman leader of the Conservatives.
When I was 11, I remember getting free school dinners when my father, a steel worker in South Wales, went out on strike.
At university, I recall the Conservative Association singing “10 more years” in 1989. And a year later organising a “Thatcher’s Gone” party the night she left office.
And I’m sure I’m not alone in my uneasy reaction to the news of her death – she was so important to so many people’s formative years. Many campaigners in the sector have directly campaigned against her policies from 1979 to 1990. Others were motivated to dedicate their careers to campaigning whilst growing up while she was in power.
When I started working for Shelter in 1993, under Sheila McKechnie’s leadership, a Conservative, or a Conservative who was “openly out” would not have been countenanced anywhere near 88 Old Street or even the EC1V postal sector.
Slowly, since then, as the campaigning sector has expanded and as now the majority of charities campaign as opposed to only a handful 20 years ago – and also as the Conservative party has adapted and like other parties fight for the centre ground, then Conservative supporters are campaigning in the sector. And many do so and they genuinely have the right ethos for the campaigns that they represent.
It isn’t the day to sum up the effect of Margaret Thatcher on the campaigning sector. As it’s the day that an old lady, who has been very poorly in recent years has died. I’m sure we’ll hear more about her effective in the months to come.