Sarah Palin to meet Margaret Thatcher

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sarah Palin has revealed on her Facebook page that she plans to meet Margaret Thatcher (whom she affectionately refers to as "the Iron Lady") on a possible trip to the UK:

Following an article in a British publication on Sunday, I've received questions about a possible trip to the United Kingdom. I have received an invitation for a visit to London, and part of that invitation included the offer of arranging a meeting between myself and one of my political heroines, the "Iron Lady," Margaret Thatcher. I would love to meet her and hope I'll be able to arrange the trip in the future.

As I wrote last year when I offered her birthday wishes, Baroness Thatcher's life and career serve as a blueprint for overcoming the odds and challenging the "status quo." She started life as a grocer's daughter from Grantham and rose to become Prime Minister -- all by her own merit and hard work. I cherish her example and will always count her as one of my role models. Her friendship with my other political hero, Ronald Reagan, exemplified the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

There are lots of brilliant things about this. According to the "British publication" she mentions, the Daily Mail, it was actually Palin's team who made the approach (which seems more realistic -- I somehow can't see Thatcher desperately checking Palin's schedule, waiting for her moment to swoop in and arrange that meeting she's been waiting for).

The Mail also quotes someone "involved with the talks", saying of Palin's team: "Their main interest is getting a picture of her with Lady Thatcher. I'm not sure they know who David Cameron is."

The thread beneath Palin's post is well worth a read, with the comments ranging from "Sit at her feet and learn from her as she is an example of strength and preserverance which you were also given by our Creator" to "Please don't come here!".

Believe it or not, Palin has actually been compared to Thatcher before. After Palin's vice-presidential nomination, the Conservative US commentator Larry Kudlow asked whether "we're not witnessing the western frontier version of Margaret Thatcher". Slightly oddly, Michael Reagan, the adopted son of the late president, said of the same speech that "I saw my dad reborn; only this time he's a she. And what a she!"

I digress. Back to the meeting of the century -- what will they talk about? There is always the shared distaste for unions and penchant for slashing spending, but I can't help thinking that that's where the similiarities end. And, of course, there is Russia . . . the woman the Soviets called the "Iron Lady" talking to the woman who can see Russia from Alaska. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.