To her enemies, Lady Thatcher was a cruel, divisive figure, but even they had to concede that she was never other than kind to those who worked for her. She could be brutal to her ministers, but was always compassionate to staff drivers, secretaries, doorkeepers, policemen, waitresses. She had a heater installed over the door into Number Ten, for example, so that attendants could stay warm during the depths of winter.
At one grand Chequers dinner, Tom Utley reminded us in the Daily Mail, a nervous waitress dropped a bowl full of scalding soup into the lap of one of the guests. As the diner "whimpered in agony, a horrified Mrs T leapt from her chair, rushed round the table and gave a huge, comforting hug to the waitress". She immediately understood who was suffering most in the room, and it wasn't the dignitary with the scalded crotch.
To her Downing Street staff, though often required to work long hours, she was equally considerate. One adviser, Elizabeth Cottrell, who had been involved in some late-night redrafting of a speech, found herself staying the night. "The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was running a bath for me, bringing me a night dress and toothbrush, popping a hot-water bottle into the bed, just in case it was cold! Nothing was too much trouble for her she was at my bedside at 7am with a cup of tea."
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Do the dead deserve respect?
"Do we owe the dead respect, even if we disagreed with them?" asks the philosopher Professor AC Grayling in The Independent. To him, the Bitch-Is-Dead celebrations are "understandable and justifiable" and "death does not confer privileges". Respect is "a hangover from the past in which it was believed that the dead might retain some active influence over the living".
Rubbish, says Libby Purves in The Times. Only a philosopher "blinded by self-importance and half-baked anthropology" could believe this. Professor Grayling concludes: "Let us respect ourselves instead." Says Purves: "There lies all the smug, narrow, self-regarding, inhumane, mechanistic aridity of atheist academe. Thank goodness he's still alive, so I can say so straightaway."
The grave we should be dancing on
Bernard Donoughue tells a revealing tale in his memoirs about the state of British industry when Mrs Thatcher became PM. Donoughue was head of the Downing Street policy unit under both Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. He describes how in 1978 the PM's private office ordered two new cars from British Leyland, inevitably. "They were found to have 34 mechanical faults When they returned the PM went for a trip in one. He decided to open the window for some fresh air the result was that the window immediately fell in on his lap."
That, as Dominic Lawson says in The Sunday Times, "was the industrial culture Thatcher inherited. Its elimination was only a good thing. That is the grave we should be dancing on."
Tabloid money "Don't buy mansions, lads, Cable will tax every brick"
The government's decision to cut corporation tax is a "near £2bn gift to bankers" that shows which side David Cameron is really on, says the Daily Mirror. "Wealthy and married to an heiress, Mr Cameron is not on the side of hardworking families or households paying Bedroom Tax." Instead, he would rather help out the "greedy, reckless financiers who created the credit crunch".
So while most Britons are having to deal with squeezed living standards, the City of London speculators are laughing all the way to the bank. Of course, Cameron's favours don't go unnoticed. After all, his "party accepts huge donations from grateful financiers".
"Why do some in our country love to carp at success?" asks The Sun. The latest high-profile example was Business Secretary Vince Cable who called pop band One Direction's £25m earnings "grossly immoral". Cable has since backtracked and says he was criticising mega-salaries in general "but doesn't this speak volumes for Lib-Dem attitudes to those who do well?" One Direction deserve praise for achieving their dream. "But don't go buying mansions, lads, or Cable will want to tax every brick."
The Coalition appears to be getting a grip on Britain's "ramshackle welfare system", says the Daily Express. In addition to recent moves, such as the annual benefit cap and withdrawal of spare-bedroom subsidies, it has just announced a crackdown on benefit cheats. In future, those who make fraudulent claims will be prosecuted and have their benefits suspended immediately.
"There could hardly be a more welcome, sensible step it is outrageous that many cheats have been allowed to carry on claiming even after conviction." It's a serious economic issue too, with 10,000 fraudulent claimants costing the system an estimated £1.2bn per year. Don't listen to the usual cries of protest from left-wing pressure groups there is "nothing compassionate about tolerating fraud".
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