Margaret Thatcher on the Rule of Law (Truth and Consequences)

Margaret Thatcher on the Importance of the Rule of Law

Respecting and abiding by the rule of law is what keeps us truly free. Freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the right to protest are essential cornerstones of a democratic society. However, it’s equally important that there are legal and ethical constraints against exercising these rights in a way that harms others. This is what liberal democracy is all about – exercising one’s rights and at the same time respecting other peoples’ rights in following the rule of law.

If you don’t like the laws, then run for office and work to get them changed. Canada and most Western countries are not dictatorships where the only hope to achieve any change can be through extreme actions. We are functioning democracies. Observing the rule of law is essential to keeping functional this great system that preserves our freedom and strength.

Margaret Thatcher faced many unruly protests during her time in office. In response to the massive pickets and the violence that broke out during the miners’ strikes at Orgreave in 1984, she stated the following:

Conceding to mob rule will hold us all hostage to the mob, rather than set us free through liberty and the rule of law.

…I must tell you that what we have got is an attempt to substitute the rule of the mob for the rule of law, and it must not succeed. It must not succeed.

There are those who are using violence and intimidation to impose their will on others who do not want it. They are failing because of two things.

First, because of the magnificent police force well trained for carrying out their duties bravely and impartially.

And secondly, because the overwhelming majority of people in this country are honourable, decent and law abiding and want the law to be upheld and will not be intimidated… Ladies and Gentlemen we need the support of everyone in this battle which goes to the very heart of our society. The rule of law must prevail over the rule of the mob.

Conceding to mob rule will hold us all hostage to the mob, rather than set us free through liberty and the rule of law.

Sources and Further Reading

Remarks on Orgreave picketing, Margaret Thatcher Foundation



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