Mrs Thatcher, incidentally, “the grocer’s daughter,” received exactly the same reception from the British Left when she first rose to prominence: the same sarcastic references to her class origins, the same suggestions that she was utterly unprepared, the same visceral misogyny, the same panicked search for domestic tabloid scandal, the same “why don’t you go home, dear, and take care of your children” dismissals. And likewise, this response played an important part in helping her flatten them.
Barbara Amiel in the WSJ:
Lord Ian Gilmour of Craigmillar dismissed Mrs. Thatcher as “a Daily Telegraph woman”—code language for some ghastly suburban creature wearing a tasteless flowered hat. Winston Churchill’s son-in-law, Christopher Soames, a man of much genuine intelligence, allegedly called her “Heath with tits”—an inaccurate and inelegant description, but one that captured exquisitely the contempt his class had for her.
The British feminist movement at that time was of little import. “I owe nothing to women’s lib,” Mrs. Thatcher remarked, thus assuring herself of a permanent place in their pantheon of evil. During her years in power, Mrs. Thatcher could and did use the rhetoric of home economics in a way a prudent male politician no longer dared do. Metaphors of kitchen and gender abounded in her speeches: “it is the cock that crows,” she would say, “but the hen that lays the eggs.”
Mrs. Thatcher would have recognized the guns aimed at Sarah Palin as the weapons of the left with feminist trigger-pullers. She also would have known that Mrs. Palin has less to fear from East-Coast intellectual snobs in egalitarian America than she had to fear from her own Tory base in class-prejudiced Britain. She would have told her to stand her ground and do her homework. Read your briefs, choose advisers with care, and, as she once said to me, my arm in her grip and her eyes fixed firmly on mine, “Just be yourself, don’t ever give in and they can’t harm you.”
It wasn’t quite true, of course. She did read her briefs, did stand her ground, and in the end they pulled her down, those grandees. But she made history. If a grocer’s daughter can do it, a self-described hockey mom cannot be dismissed.