No Way: Scottish Vote A Win For Canny Good Sense

SCOTLAND opted resoundingly yesterday to continue its 307-year union with the rest of Britain, with the “no” vote prevailing in 28 of 32 local authority areas; the result was the only sensible outcome, and whilst the United Kingdom will remain united for the foreseeable future, grievances will continue to be nursed on either side of the border. The resignation of Scotland’s First Minister in the wake of the vote, whilst gracious, was inevitable.

In the end, some might say it came down to the head triumphing over the heart.

Yet such a platitude is too simplistic to be meaningful when it comes to evaluating the outcome of yesterday’s referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of the UK; many of those who voted “yes” — seeking to break the 307-year bond between Scotland and its neighbours — knew that every argument advanced by the other side was correct, but voted against them anyway; similarly, many who voted “no” desperately wanted to believe the case presented by the Nationalists, but baulked.

Either way, I never expected the referendum to succeed, although after the published polls in Britain swung firmly toward a “yes” outcome some weeks ago, the question became one of whether the margin of victory for “no” would be sufficient to prevent the Scottish Nationalists from having another go in 10 or 20 years’ time.

With 55.3% of the votes cast, the “no” side has achieved a solid, if unspectacular win, and in this sense the Nationalists will find it very difficult indeed to justify another attempt at engineering independence in the medium term. But the margin was hardly conclusive enough to prevent such a thing in the longer run.

In the sometimes blunt way we do things in this column, I have characterised this referendum previously as an attempt to give form to the cerebral hatred of the English of the First Minister, Alex Salmond; a shrewd operator if ever there was, his prosecution of the “yes” case has bewildered and enraged many observers, built as it was on fundamentally misleading positions over key aspects of what a post-separation Scotland might look like that was nonetheless accepted as fact by hundreds of thousands of his supporters.

Businesses based in Scotland warned that they would relocate to London, taking jobs and capital with them. Salmond’s response? They’re bluffing.

The Governor of the Bank of England warned that an independent Scotland would not be able to retain the British pound — not officially, at any rate — creating mammoth short-term costs on the Scottish government to establish a currency, reserves, and a mint. Salmond’s response? The BoE was wrong.

Brussels — headquarters to the European Union — warned that an independent Scotland could not be assured automatic membership of the EU, and that if granted membership, the delay could be considerable. Salmond’s idiot-simple response? The EU is wrong; Britain is an EU member and as a successor state, so too would Scotland be.

On and on it went, covering everything from the retention of the monarchy, to defaulting on Scotland’s share of any carve-up of British national debt, to rights over North Sea oilfields, and beyond.

Every time Salmond’s assurances and promises of no pain and no disadvantage to Scotland were slapped down, he still argued black was white.

In being prepared to say literally anything to convince his countrymen to abandon their bond with England, it’s little wonder so many bought into it, with turnout for the referendum a record 85%.

But the best interests of Scotland — and its people — were acted upon by the majority who, in the end, refused to support Salmond’s grab bag of empty and misleading promises.

One man likely to be extremely relieved today is the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was staring stonily at the prospect of being forced to quit his post if the Union had been lost yesterday; happily, no such fate awaits him, at least not this week.

But attempting to break up a country like the UK is a high-stakes enterprise at the best of times, and someone was always going to lose.

It is fitting that in the aftermath of the votes being tallied, Salmond has chosen to fall on his sword; just as Cameron’s tenure may have proven untenable had the referendum succeeded, Salmond’s certainly is now, and whilst his statement of a need for fresh leadership in Scotland was gracious — even noble — he had no alternative in view of the “opportunity” he has squandered.

Consider this: Salmond — who has made a career of working to engineer Scotland’s rejection of union with England — was provided the wording he wanted for the referendum question; the timing he preferred for the vote to be held; extracted concessions from Westminster during the campaign in the form of additional powers of self-governance for Scotland, if it voted to stay in the UK, that he subsequently used to suggest his country was no better off inside the UK than outside it; and ran a shockingly misleading and dishonest campaign that could only be expected to add the gullible, the stupid and the contemptible to the core base of supporters he started with.

If Scottish Nationalists could not convince a majority of their countrymen to abandon the UK in the glow of such a favourable alignment of circumstances, when can they hope to do so ever again? It is impossible to say “never,” and foolhardy to do so on any question of electoral politics — in the UK, or anywhere else. But this is a point that suggests that in terms of any future attempt at breaking the Union from the Scottish side, the 44.7% “yes” scored yesterday might overstate the true level of underlying support for such an endeavour.

If there is one good thing that can come of all of this, it is the prospect of England achieving more or less the same degree of autonomy over matters solely pertaining to its own governance that the other constituent countries of the United Kingdom enjoy; the concessions extracted by Salmond have had the consequence of enraging many English MPs — especially in Cameron’s Conservative Party — and the pressure for an extensive overhaul of the constitutional arrangements of the UK will be irresistible in the days ahead.

Whilst this column was somewhere in the distant future at the time, I was resolutely opposed to the idea of “devolved government” for Scotland and Wales when the Blair government introduced it 15-odd years ago; one of the reasons for it was that yesterday’s referendum on breaking up the UK was always going to be one of its repercussions.

The “devolution max” concessions offered to Scotland now bring the further inevitability of more change in Britain; in the interests of perspective I will leave those aside for now, and revisit them at some later juncture when they become the issues of the day.

But I did want to say a few things at least about what happened yesterday; owing to the ongoing constraints on my time I have faced of late I feared I would be unable to do so, but here we are.

I really do believe — and I mean in my bones, not just to make the point — that had the Nationalists triumphed yesterday, the consequences for Scotland would have been cataclysmic: perhaps not now, but in five, ten, twenty years’ time, yesterday’s date would have lived on in infamy north of the border.

It wouldn’t have done much for the English, either, or the rest of the UK, its people, and its partners.

As someone who identifies as Scottish — by descent — I understand too well the tide of history, and the deeply seated forces that drive Nationalist fervour where it exists (and not least, from stories passed along through familial links).

But money, jobs, trade, decent living standards…these are things which Scotland derives from its union with the rest of Britain, not in spite of it; and whatever historical enmities might exist between the two sides, Scotland is better off comfortable inside the Union than facing an uncertain future — or worse — without it.

My own ancestral seat of Glasgow voted clearly (but not overwhelmingly) in favour of breaking away; I had heard many horror stories about Glasgow before I went there some years ago — what it was like in “the old days,” which is what I’m told it’s still like if you go to the right districts — and was stunned to find a vibrant, thriving town of which I was immediately proud. It’s surprisingly like Brisbane — before they started knocking the heritage buildings in Brisbane down, that is — which is probably not so much a surprise at all when it’s remembered that those who built Brisbane came disproportionately from Scotland some 200 years ago.

Anyway, I digress.

One way or the other — despite competing loyalties, split affiliations, and the contest between the heart and the head — Scottish voters got it very, very right yesterday.

The United Kingdom remains united, and Scotland, like Britain overall, will be a better, stronger place for it.


On BoJo, Gaza, Ukraine, 18c, And Squaring The Week

WITH AN AWFUL LOT going on this week — both at home and abroad — it has been an inauspicious time to disappear for a few days; yet the Abbott government’s retreat from attempting to modify racial discrimination laws heads a litany of issues that have percolated whilst your columnist has been unwell. This morning we “do the rounds” with some brief comment on each of them, and square away the week to date in so doing.

Firstly, an apology: I think readers know that I maintain this forum in my spare time, and that whilst I am keen to aerate the conversations we have here other factors must sometimes take precedence; this week those conversations have been thwarted altogether on account of something rather nasty that found its way into (and through) our household. Nothing serious; just the perfectly logical result of having two children in childcare with the younger one experiencing (and inflicting) the “delights” of illness for the first time.

Needless to say, pushing out articles has not been my uppermost priority, and I apologise for the hiatus. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, a lot has been happening in the few days that I really haven’t been up to doing anything about it. So today’s piece is a bit of a wrap, with plenty of links, mainly because dealing comprehensively with everything would take another week to catch up. I may, however, post again this evening.

I’m starting off with a bit of indulgence this morning; regular readers know the UK is a part of the world very near and dear to my heart, and the news that London’s colourful Mayor, Boris Johnson, has announced his intention to seek re-entry to the House of Commons at next year’s general election is welcome. I am an unabashed fan of BoJo, and I think his brash vigour and energetic record as Mayor of London underline the reasons many think he would make an excellent successor to current Prime Minister David Cameron.

Should BoJo succeed in this enterprise, he will combine the role of an MP at Westminster with that of London mayor until 2016, when his term in the latter office expires.

I think there’s real cause for excitement in Australia about Johnson’s potential return to the Commons; one of the ideas he champions is freer relations between the UK and Australia, and particularly in the areas of labour exchanges and residency. There is a lot of resentment in some quarters in the UK over the flood of immigration the country experienced from Eastern European ex-Soviet satellite countries when they joined the EU; Johnson (rightly) believes Britain has much more in common with Australia than it does with Europe, and this advocate of Britain’s exit from the EU is potentially a powerful champion of Australia’s interests in the halls of power at Westminster.

Johnson’s only obstacle would appear to be finding a suitable seat to contest; his old electorate of Henley (once held by Michael Heseltine) is not available, and BoJo himself tempered his announcement of a return to the Commons with an assertion that he would “probably fail,” but it is to be hoped — in the interests of both the UK and Australia — that he doesn’t.

I saw a piece of graffiti outside a tube station in Camden a few years ago proclaiming that “Boris Rocks!” I tend to agree, and excluding any other considerations, it will be fascinating to watch for signs of leadership tension between a Prime Minister who arguably heralded limitless promise but has disappointed, and a putative Prime Minister-in-waiting whose stature has grown in the London job, but whose time at the top might or might not arrive at all.

(While we’re on the subject of the UK, for those who share my interest in the independence campaign in Scotland, it was particularly satisfying to see the separatist leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, trounced in the key referendum debate overnight. Salmond is motivated by two things, and two things only: hatred of the English and attention to his own aggrandisement. The welfare of my native Scotland and its people — which would overwhelmingly be best served by remaining in the UK — is of little real importance to this prat in my view. Happily, the referendum appears to remain destined to go down in a landslide).

Talking of leadership tension, it seems erstwhile dinner partners Clive Palmer and Malcolm Turnbull have become, in dating parlance, a regular item, with the power couple spotted once again supping surreptitiously in Canberra this week. On a personal level I have considerable time for both of these fellows but as readers know, I will never support Malcolm for the leadership of the Liberal Party and cannot support Clive Palmer politically in any way whatsoever. I tend to think — for now — that the increasing number of dinner dates the pair is being spied at is likely to be as innocuous as Turnbull claims.

But the mutterers have made little secret that Palmer would prefer Turnbull as Prime Minister for personal reasons as much as anything, and that the Coalition would find the Senate more pliable in such an arrangement as well, the tiny matter of the electoral revolt the Coalition would suffer notwithstanding. It is something we will keep a weather eye upon.

More ominous weather seems to be brewing on Europe’s eastern flank, too, with the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the aftermath of the MH17 atrocity apparently drifting toward war, perhaps irretrievably, and toward a conflict that this column has repeatedly warned could spiral quickly and dangerously out of control. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper is reporting that Vladimir Putin has signed an oil and trade deal with Iran worth about £12 billion over five years, that if enacted will largely ameliorate any adverse effects Russia might feel from the sanctions regime currently being ratcheted up against it by the West.

Indeed, the flipside of the deal with Iran — long a military protectorate of the Russians, whose energy deal with the pariah state adds another layer of complexity to any Western response — is that Russia will now refuse to trade with any country participating in the heightened sanctions being implemented against it.

This will hurt Australia to the tune of a couple of billion dollars per year. Its effects on Europe, which has grown dangerously and ridiculously reliant on Russia for heating gas in particular, remains to be seen. But the bottom line is that Russia will be barely impeded by the “response” to the MH17 debacle that was intended to punish its complicity in the separatist forces within Ukraine, with whom it seems the most direct responsibility for the disaster lies.

In turn, that fuels worrying developments in the skirmishes and fighting that are ongoing in the region; Reuters is reporting this morning that NATO now fears a ground invasion of Ukraine, as Russia continues to mass more than 20,000 combat troops along its border with Ukraine: possibly to enable the ruse of humanitarian action as a pretext on which to ignite the direct Russia-Ukraine conflagration so many observers have feared is inevitable.

Should this eventuate, the response by the West — led by the uninspiring Barack Obama and his inflammatory Secretary of State, John Kerry — will arguably constitute the most delicate operation in diplomacy and hard power since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Ukraine is not a NATO country, and NATO is not bound to protect it. Yet at some point military outrages committed by Russia (or by its proxies, this time in the form of “separatist” militias) that result in the callous loss of civilian lives is going to require a response using force, the only language Russia’s leadership truly comprehends. The inevitable failure of John McCain to beat the hip, black upstart Obama in 2008 is one thing, but the failure of Mitt Romney to do so four years later might prove the costliest election mistake in US history very quickly and in the worst manner imaginable.

Romney explicitly warned that America’s greatest enemy and threat was Russia, and was roundly derided for it. If things go badly in Ukraine now, he may be proven right. If he is, the consequences could be cataclysmic. The problem with American leadership under Barack Obama is that on questions of the strategic interests of the West and the free world, there isn’t any. A Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the USA, Britain and others drawn into the storm that appears to be gathering, could literally become an unmitigated disaster.

It’s hardly any cheerier in Gaza, where Hamas and Israeli forces continue to exchange rocket fire (albeit with a ceasefire holding at time of writing): the carnage and loss of life is appalling.

But the situation in Gaza is a cause for anger, and not for the reasons the brainwashed, left-wing media seem to have successfully transposed onto a public hungry for knowledge of the situation but unable to tell a despicable ruse from the truth.

Readers know that I am stoutly supportive of Israel and a friend to the Jewish people, but that disclosure is thoroughly irrelevant to the point I make here.

Here in Australia — as elsewhere — it is a modern obsession of the Left to demonise Israel and the Jewish people; their disgusting so-called BDS campaign is an execrable monument to this obsession, and the current conflict in Gaza would appear to an increasing cohort to offer an unrebuttable point on which to hang their case, and on which to crucify Israel for good measure.

It goes without saying that the Left-wing media has done its best to fuel this drivel, and will continue to do so; the problem is that the dishonest and reprehensible misinformation over Gaza is beginning to attract support in wider communities with little knowledge or comprehension of the situation too. The gullibility of the disinterested is no excuse for the malignant propaganda of the ideologically conceited.

In the UK, a senior Tory member of David Cameron’s cabinet — Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi — resigned from the government yesterday over what she perceived as the British government’s unreasonably pro-Israel stance. It is not indelicate, in both the context or the circumstances, to point out that Warsi herself is Muslim, or that her case is based on the same lie that is being propagated across the world.

And that lie, very simply, is this: that Israeli forces are indiscriminately and wantonly targeting women and children in Gaza in a brutal and unwarranted attack on Palestinian interests, and that Hamas forces have no alternative than to shoot back. The entire dispute is of Israel’s doing, the story goes. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a fascist zealot and a war criminal.

Nothing simpler. It’s emotive, catchy, and hard to argue against off the cuff.

Until, that is, someone points out that Hamas — a blacklisted and proscribed terrorist organisation in much of the world, and with good reason — uses the civilian population as human shields; when it fires its rockets, the batteries are all located close to schools, hospitals, and other public places in which the innocent congregate. The women, children and civilians killed are hit when Israel retaliates as it is entitled to do; the alternative — for Israel to capitulate — would be, as it repeatedly points out, for Israel to cease to exist altogether in fairly rapid order. There are some who might find such a development attractive. I think it’s deplorable.

And who is a champion on the world stage of the dead kids and women and other innocents on the Israeli side?

If you want to be objective, both sides are responsible for the carnage and the slaughter; both sides are killing people; both sides have their entrenched positions and their cases to argue. This is why I said my traditional support for Israel is irrelevant. If you want to arbitrarily demonise one, you must demonise both. The fairy tale of “evil Israel” in all of this is a malicious slur indeed.

Yet some don’t get it; former US President Jimmy Carter — another in a long line of utterly useless specimens inflicted on the world by the Democratic Party — has made the grotesquely crass call for Hamas to be “recognised” as a legitimate “political actor;” Carter might be pushing 90 now, but this kind of idiocy can’t simply be attributed to his dotage, consistent as it is with the kind of anti-productive rubbish he has advocated for decades.

Hamas might, theoretically, have a point. But so, too, did Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo in Rhodesia, as they embarked on armed struggle against white minority government and British colonial rule; the prevailing view of them in Britain was that they were terrorists, whatever their cause was, and their subsequent conduct in government following independence showed that view to be murderously accurate. There is no reason to believe Hamas is any different. In fact, well armed and said to be backed by Russia as well as governments elsewhere in the Middle East, Hamas is a far deadlier beast than the regime Mugabe continues to maintain.

I want to finish up with a few thoughts on the fracas over Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act here in Australia, and the decision by Tony Abbott to abandon the government’s plans to modify these laws under the auspices of expanding the right to free speech; I think the baby has been thrown out with the bath water with this one.

Section 18c — as it stands — is, like so much of what the Left fights for these days, hardly a historic entity; it dates all the way back to the Gillard government. But it is a crucial element of the broad cultural shift the Left seeks to engineer, in that dissent from its views is not to be tolerated, and opposition to the social manifestations that cultural shift creates is to be outlawed.

In the red corner, the language has been aggressive, to say the least; every opponent of both conservative and libertarian inclination on this issue has been ruthless in painting the contest as a legitimisation of racial hatred and persecution on the part of the Right.

Their rhetoric found fertilisation in the response from the blue corner that it elicited, summed up most notably by Attorney-General George Brandis QC’s assertion that people should have the right to be bigots — but that their bigotry will be slapped down and neutralised when it reaches the “disinfectant of sunlight.”

I have known George for well over 20 years and whilst he can be pompous, priggish and unduly elitist at times, nobody who knew what they were talking about would ever describe him as a bigot.

But there you are: the Left wins, because there is too much rancour involved in continuing the fight for the other side; and far from abolishing a dangerous piece of social engineering from the Gillard years that may very well do more harm in this country than good, it survives in no small part because those who sought to abolish it approached the task with an exceedingly poor sales case for the change, and compounded even that with a belligerence of their own that more than matched the rhetoric of the Left.

The bit in the middle — a reasonable recalibration of the laws to a point somewhere between the two extremes — is lost as a consequence.

When the hardcore partisans of the Left crow smugly of their victory, seeking to rub it in the faces of Brandis and his colleagues by presenting their defeat as a victory for the united masses, it’s a sign of just how badly this particular issue has been handled by the Abbott government and by those who, for reasons far removed from the subterranean agendas of the Left, fought against it on a conviction of what was right and what was wrong.

Still, it could have been worse; as everyone in Australia knows, Gillard’s government also attempted to outlaw saying anything that merely offended people.

If we get to the point in this country where calling someone “a dickhead” is illegal because some thin-skinned clod feigns offence, I won’t be hanging around to see where the fallout lands.

But if dickheads are central to such matters, it’s no surprise Senator Conroy was so eager to stamp such “offensive” notions of expression out of existence in the first place.


And that’s it this morning. Back to our normal format — I hope! — from here onwards.


Viewing: Threads Of War In Eastern Europe

WITHOUT BEING ALARMIST, the deployment of 18 nuclear-capable fighter aircraft to Eastern Europe — in light of civil unrest in Ukraine, aggressive acts by Russia, and the position of the West to stand firm in the face of it — has had me thinking today about a vision of nuclear war that was (and is) frighteningly realistic; I post tonight e’er briefly to simply share some excellent fictional viewing with readers for their interest.

Please don’t misinterpret the motive in posting this; as dangerous as the situation in Europe might be — and irrespective of its very real potential to escalate into a Third World War — I really don’t think matters will come to that, although with geopolitical issues of this kind it’s impossible to say such a thing with total conviction.

No no no, whilst the subjects clearly overlap, I was on the hunt online earlier today out of pure curiosity for an old movie about a nuclear holocaust scenario called Threads: I first saw this when it was released in the mid-1980s as a high school student (which I think most of my contemporaries also did) and later on a very grainy online posting that didn’t do the cinematography any favours.

Having found the movie (and found a new-ish link to a HD version of the film, which is far easier to watch) I simply wanted to post this for the interest of readers who may like to take the time to watch what is — current events in eastern Europe notwithstanding — an excellent film.

Those who wish to (and I strongly recommend doing so) can see the full-length feature through this link.

I tend to think the military deployments being made by the USA and NATO are as much about sabre rattling as some of the moves being made by the Russians and forces aligned with them; even so, whilst I suspect nothing will come of them in any apocalyptic sense, we will continue — as ever — to keep an eye on these things.

Enjoy the film. I should note that despite the obviously dovish, CND-inspired and sincerely well-meaning intentions of the teacher who made my class watch this almost 30 years ago, it did nothing to alter the emergent hawkish view I was developing in relation to such matters…

I’ll be posting again in the morning; probably on matters a little nearer to home.


Future King: Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth To A Boy

BUCKINGHAM PALACE has formally announced the birth of a son to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; the future King was born at 4.24pm, London time (1.24am Tuesday, AEST) and will be the third in line to the throne to become King of Australia.

The palace said in a statement:

“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm. The baby weighs 8lbs 6oz.

“The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth.

“The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news.

“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well and will remain in hospital overnight.”

May we simply say that we extend our heartiest congratulations and best wishes to William and Kate, and to express our delight that the future King has arrived safely and well.

This entire event has been punctuated by the ridiculous, however, with the ubiquitous Fleet Street press pack providing coverage on details extending right down to the stains on the pavement outside the St Mary’s Hospital in London.

Indeed, comment from so-called “royal watchers” overnight (Australian time) has ranged from such lofty themes as an attempt to turn the event into “the people’s pregnancy” (get the sick bucket) to a “debate” over whether Pippa Middleton’s bum would appear “and steal the limelight.”

Some people have nothing better to do, even when being paid to do it…

All that said, however, we are absolutely delighted at the news of the royal birth, and look forward to the formal introduction of the Prince publicly — and learning his name — in coming days.

In the meantime it is to be hoped the Duchess enjoys rest and a speedy recovery from the childbirth she has experienced, and that all of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects share the joy of this exciting news.

God Save The Queen!

BREAKING: Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, In Labour

A WARM summer day in London is set to be a little warmer today, with news a short time ago that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has entered hospital in the early stages of labour as she prepares to give birth to this country’s future monarch. The Red And The Blue is delighted at this news.

It’s the development a loitering press pack in London has been waiting on for weeks; Buckingham Palace figures have confirmed that the Duchess travelled by car to St. Mary’s Hospital in central London very early this morning, British Summer Time (about 4pm Monday, AEST).

The child will be the first for Kate and Prince William since their marriage two years ago, and the child will — like William — some day be the monarch of Great Britain, Australia, and many other countries around the world including New Zealand and Canada.

Changes to succession laws made by the present Conservative government in the UK (and mirrored by reciprocal legislation in Australia and its states) to abolish the ancient law of primogeniture mean that irrespective of its gender, the child will some day become the monarch.

We wish to minute to William, Kate and their respective families our very best wishes at this special time, and look forward — with the rest of Her Majesty’s subjects — to learning the identity of the newest member of the royal family in the next day or so.

God Save The Queen!

Margaret Thatcher Funeral And Tribute

LIKE millions of viewers across the world, I watched the funeral of Baroness Thatcher this evening, Melbourne time; it was a remarkable celebration of a remarkable life, and as regular readers will know I am very upset indeed by the event of Mrs Thatcher’s passing last week, aged 87.

At some point in the next few days, I will be posting a tribute to Mrs Thatcher on this site.

It won’t be a regular post in the sense that we pick apart a topic, with an opinion piece augmented by discussion and viewpoints from readers.

The format will be media clippings: photographs and video snippets from Mrs Thatcher’s career; some well-known and others rather less so, as well as some comment from myself where I feel it is warranted.

Those who love and/or admire Mrs T will enjoy the tribute; even those who detest the lady — let’s face it, people loved her or hated her — may find some wry amusement in the material I am assembling as well.

As one of the true conservative icons of the 20th century, Mrs Thatcher’s death is a historic event; as a truly great leader, both at home and upon the world stage, she was a significant figure who deserves to be honoured, and remembered.

I have deliberately avoided posting this piece until the public funereal service had been concluded; readers should expect to see the tribute to Mrs Thatcher appear in this column by the weekend at the very latest.

BREAKING NEWS: Former British PM Margaret Thatcher Dead at 87

IN DREADFULLY sad news tonight, former British Prime Minister has died this morning (London time); Mrs Thatcher is reported to have suffered a final stroke after an intermittent series of minor strokes in recent years, and died peacefully in her sleep. She was a few months short of her 88th birthday.

After years of hoax announcements, this one is accurate.

This is frightfully upsetting news and I will be monitoring the British press through the night (Melbourne time) for more information, and will post again later tonight or tomorrow.