Having seen the powerfully conveyed Iron Lady film about her political life, as someone diagnosed with Autism, it was probably the first time in my life I had ever emotionally felt what I call ‘situational empathy’ – that is, empathy at the point one sees an emotion in others.
I was in tears in parts, seeing how the barbaric Tories treated Mrs Thatcher the way that the horrid Labour Party treated me – with total contempt, just because we had values and beliefs informed by our education and our family and not an unrealised ideology purely from the works of Adam Smith or Karl Marx.
When Mrs Thatcher was being terrorised by the IRA, I was in solitary confinement in a state-funded private school in Brecon, which had been taken over by a former prison guard who denied me the special needs education the Iron Lady changed the law for me to have there. The moment in the film where she was in inches of her life with an IRA bomb, I broke down in tears. Here was a woman, as ostracised for standing by her beliefs and values as I have been, and who was abused by a external power she couldn’t control, as I was at that school. This is what I call ‘lived empathy.’
When people vote for a politician, they want someone who sees the world as they do. If you have been discriminated against because of who you are and what you believe – Margaret Thatcher knows how you feel.
If you hate Mrs Thatcher for being strong minded and unrelentingly true to her beliefs , then don’t blame her, watch this film and blame the Tories and the IRA. If you think the same of me from when I thought I had joined a ‘New Labour’ party, then read the case of R v Mid Glamorgan County Borough Council (ex parte Bishop) and the forthcoming Bishop v The Co-operative Party. You will see that the reason in both cases from my point of view was the Labour Party, but one far remote from that created by Kier Hardie. They made me fight endlessly for the rights that Margaret Thatcher made law, and which she would have made in the case of the Disability Discrimination Act, had the Tories seen her as the remarkable person she is.
I never cried for Steve Jobs even as an Apple customer for over 12 years, but I will mourn Margaret Thatcher’s eventual death, as the greatest yet most unrecognised special education reformer of all time. She is the reason I have the high confidence in myself that I do today. Inspired by her, I hope my Digital Classroom of Tomorrow Project will make the sometimes 30-pupils-per-classroom comprehensives in Wales perform at the standard of at least 5 classrooms of 6 in a private school.