Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet
A woman demonised by the left and sanctified by the right, there has always been a religious undercurrent to discussions of Margaret Thatcher. However, while her Methodist roots are well known, the impact of her faith on her politics is often overlooked. As a child, she would sit in the pews listening to her lay-preacher father, Alf Roberts, hammer home sermons on the Protestant work ethic, God-given liberty and the sanctity of the individual. It was in the pulpit of Finkin Street’s Wesleyan Church in Grantham where Thatcherism was born.
When Margaret Thatcher recited the prayer of St Francis of Assisi on the steps of No 10, it signalled a new era of conviction politics. Her rise coincided with the emergence of a Christian right in Britain committed to wresting the moral mantle from socialism and elevating the market as the true godly path. One institution which did not share this outlook, however, was the Church of England which doggedly defended the Christian origins of Britain’s social democracy and condemned the selfish individualism and rampant materialism being let loose in the name of enterprise culture.
Margaret Thatcher may have set out to reinvigorate the nation with the Nonconformist values of her father, but in the end she created a country that was not more Christian, but more secular; and not more devout, but entirely consumed by a new religion: capitalism. In upholding the sanctity of the individual, Thatcherism inadvertently signalled the death of Christian Britain.
Wide-ranging and exhaustively researched, God and Mrs Thatcher offers a truly original perspective on the source and substance of Margaret Thatcher’s political values and the role that religion played in the politics of this tumultuous decade.
John Campbell, author of ‘Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady’, The Independent
Jonathan Aitken – Daily Mail
Nick Spencer, Research Director – Theos
Rev. Giles Fraser – The Guardian
Stephen Glover – Standpoint
Church of England newspaper