Last night the great and the good of the Tory party gathered in honour of the 20th Anniversary of Lady Thatcher’s Bruges speech. I was one of the privellaged few who escorted Lady T from her government jag to the event. As she appeared at the top of the stairs of the Grovesnor House Hotel’s Ballroom the assembled throng let out a roar of approval. It never ceases to amaze me how grown, often powerful, men and women descend in to quivering wrecks at the sight of the Iron Lady.
Even now 20 years after her ousting, which is increasingly regarded as the biggest mistake the Tory party has made in centuries, she still inspires the same love, respect and affection that she always did. When Lady Thatcher enters a room she is not merely ‘in it’… she owns it. Yet what always strikes me about her is the fact that despite her obvious status and grandure you cannot detect an ounce of pretention, arrogance or sense of self importance. I’ll give you an example.
After a rather hectic procession through the assembled guests she reached me and my guest James, as she spoke to us she asked where we were from, what we were doing… you know the usual, but what suprised me was the fact that when asked by James for a photograph she happily obliged despite obviously having many more people to meet. To add insult to injury James was having difficulty getting his camera to work as he did not want to blind her with the flash! A bit flustered he apologised and said to Lady Thatcher ‘I do apologise’ to which she replied: ‘You’re one of us dear, don’t fret’. (Luckily due to James’s mishap I ended up holding her hand and chatting to her for about 5 minutes! haha)
Aside from the exquisite food, Lord Tebbit delivered a great speech in which he called on the current Tory leader to show some Thatcherite conviction on Europe which was warmly recieved by the hundreds of gathered guests. By the end of the evening it was clear for all to see that Lady Thatcher was fading and as such she was ushered out of the room in one final grand procession. As she left the guests broke out in to raptuous applause, some with tears in their eyes, and finally when she reached the top of the stairs, in typical Thatcher fashion, she turned back to greet her adoring crowd with a wave and a smile.
As she left the crowd, who began to be reffered to as ‘Thatchers groupies’, broke out in to spontanious “TEN MORE YEARS! TEN MORE YEARS! TEN MORE YEARS!” Those words sum the evening up perfectly. The night belonged to Lady Thatcher and she will always occupy a very special place in the hearts of many millions of people in this country and around the world. What a woman.