glass-case displays of memorabilia. You know: Scargill’s sweat-stained baseball cap; a Soviet tank of the kind she helped to send scuttling from Eastern Europe; the very milk bottles she snatched from the kiddies. I expect there will be the handbags and the gladrags and the deep cerulean-blue ballgowns, all of them tastefully displayed.
But this must be a technologically brilliant place as well, a museum for the PlayStation generation. So I hope that consultants will be brought in to devise the most sophisticated interactive computer games – in which you not only get to gawp at her clothes, but put yourself in her shoes. What we need is YouThatch, the game that tests whether you have the reflexes and the sheer cojones of the Dama de hierro.
It is no use just asking people to take the decisions that she took, though they were difficult enough. Do you take the hellish risk of fighting Galtieri and the repulsive Argentine junta? Do you continue to subsidise uneconomic coalmines? Do you side with Ronald Reagan and face down the Russkies? In all these dilemmas, her choice has been vindicated by history, and young people will (or so we must hope) know the right answer.
No, what we need is a computer program so cunning that it can work out – from her principles – what Maggie would do in situations she never faced. What, in other words, would Maggie do now? I can already see our budding Sir Politic
Would-bes queuing to get their hands on the console, and then mouthing silently as they try to channel her breathy contralto, like Luke Skywalker receiving the astral guidance of the late Obi-Wan Kenobi.
How could we devise a piece of software that would correctly identify the Thatcherian course? It’s easy – you just have to recognise that Thatcherism wasn’t about exalting the rich and grinding the faces of the poor. It was the exact opposite. It was about unleashing talent, and bursting open cosy cartels, and helping people to make the most of their talents and their opportunities. So anyone wanting to work out what Maggie would do today should do whatever it is that helps people make their way in the world – and whatever helps Britain to make its way in the world, too.
As it happens, I think her record on education was far from perfect: she was so heavily engaged in hand-to-hand economic warfare that she did not focus as closely as she did on other dossiers – and if she closed fewer mines than Harold Wilson, it is also true that she closed more grammar schools than Shirley Williams.
But what would she do today? It is obvious. She would do anything to smash down the barriers that prevent talented young people from rising on sheer academic merit; and if the teaching unions had said that they were against narrative history – as they are – I think she would have made sure they became history themselves.
What would she do with the economy? She would do anything to help the small businesses that are the backbone of the nation, and to make it easier for them to take on new workers.
She would swing that iron handbag at ’elf and safety and the deranged compensation culture. She would cut business rates, and she would tell the banks that they should either lend to British business or get broken up.
She would naturally keep good and strong relations with America, but she would build links way beyond Europe and the Atlantic – with the Brics, with the African countries that are now showing such amazing growth (many of them Commonwealth members) and with the Middle East. She would be more friendly with Germany these days, but in renegotiating the EU treaty she would make the basic point that sovereignty lies with Parliament, not with Berlin or Brussels.
And yes, as the builder of the last truly transformative piece of transport infrastructure – the Chunnel – I think she would use her fantastic will to cut the cackle and get this country the aviation capacity it needs. We wouldn’t even need to name the airport after her, because 23 years after she stepped down, and after her death, her ideas are still being exported to democracies around the world. Thatcherism lives! Ding dong!