|Eine Skulptur in Zürich von Henry Moore >Sheep piece< an der Seefeldquai|
Friday, 19 June 2015
Mrs Thatcher's Personal Papers
When in Zurich, do walk down to the lake and amble beside it. Doing just that one day, I was suddenly confronted by a sculpture by Henry Moore – a very big sculpture. Wow! There was a small plaque identifying the work and in fairly small letters at the bottom, “From a grateful citizen to his city”. Another Wow!
You might reckon a state or a city state in good order when its citizens not only pay their taxes, more willingly than less, but also on occasion give things into public ownership.
In the past in the UK, it happened occasionally that people left money in their wills to the Treasury, to “help reduce the national debt”. I suppose they were people who believed that there was such a thing as society and that they owed a debt to it. Quaint and charming. I believe you can still give money to the Treasury but they don’t encourage it. Bit embarassing really when so much Treasury effort goes into framing legislation designed to help those people who don't want to pay them money at all.
Mrs Margaret Thatcher – who told us that there is no such thing as society – obviously passed on her views to her children and grandchildren. They have just secured a £1 million reduction in their £1.9 million Inheritance tax bill in exchange for “gifting” to the nation some personal papers of Mrs Thatcher - diary notes about the Falklands War and such like – clearly of historical interest.
Before her death, Mrs Thatcher did give many of her papers – and her handbag – to an archive, accessible to researchers, and housed at Churchill College Cambridge. That sounds to her credit. The actions of her Executors in contrast rather spoil the effect. No grateful citizens to their city they.