It is one of the greatest political soundbites of all time, but one which unfortunately Margaret Thatcher didn’t push all the way.
It was 21 November 1990, and she was being asked about the Tory leadership election which had sprung up in the aftermath of Geoffry Howe’s notorious resignation speech. She secured enough votes in the first ballot to be comfortably ahead, but that the vote went to a second ballot was deadly for her and she knew it.
Thatcher didn’t fight on after that, although she had intended to.
In the end, she didn’t want the humiliation of being defeated, which her cabinet, one by one, told her she would be. But that afternoon, a week before she announced her departure, she was not for lying down and accepting her fate.
“I fight on. I fight to win,” she said.
Looking back, I’ve always regretted that Thatcher didn’t fight on, and go down to the certain defeat that was waiting for her at the hands of her party. Because Heseltine would certainly have won, he’d have become PM and the Tory Party would have spent the next few months locked in a civil war which would have certainly cost them the 1992 election, which John Major, of course, won in one of the great electoral shocks of our time.
Yesterday, The Mooch was in the same frame of mind as Thatcher had been on that afternoon.
He might have phrased it a little differently, but that was the gist of it.
The difference is, he’s perfectly willing to be humiliatingly sacked, because that comes with a multi-million-pound sweetener. The Ibrox club were daft enough to give him a contract to 2026.
He has built his own determination to cling on around his “love for the club.”
Aww, how nice, eah?
It ever amazes me how easily that “up to the knees in fenian blood” stuff gets under people’s skin.
But then, he’s exactly the type of mercenary personality, utterly selfish, utterly without scruples, we all expect to wash up there by now. He fits the Ibrox mentality like a glove, like so many nasty individuals before him.
And it’s because he does that I know he will, unlike Thatcher, “fight on, fight to win.”
His talk of love and affection for the club and all its about is the same sort as was expressed not that long ago by the likes of Allan McGregor and others, the very people who happily consigned Rangers to the grave when it meant they could leave their contracts behind and negotiate themselves big deals elsewhere, and all the better for not involving a transfer fee.
That’s the thing with these types; in the end their only loyalty is to themselves, and The Mooch will fight on and fight to win for the big payoff he’s due if they sack him, and which resigning would otherwise leave behind.
And this is what I think we all wanted to see.
This is what we were all hoping for.
The press coverage of the past week at that club has all been built around trying to put him under enough pressure that he walked away from that payoff and spared the club the headache of having to front up and fire the guy. His declaration yesterday that he isn’t going anywhere was music to my ears, and makes it certain now that his time in charge will inflict the maximum pain and disruption on the club. There is literally no downside to this for us.
I found much of the rest of his press conference to be hilarious for other reasons.
His whining over the goal that never was made me chuckle, but so too did his assertion that Cantwell is going to be out for “three or four games”, which based on the player’s own social media postings is either hugely optimistic or a barefaced lie.
There is another reason I found that amusing, but I’ll get to that a little later.
For now, I love that The Mooch is angry, bitter and up for the fight.
Because ultimately, that fight will not be with us.
It’s with his own fans, and his own board.
Maybe his own players too depending on how they’ve turned on him or he turns on them.
“I fight on, I fight to win,” was, after all, Thatcher telling the world that she was ready to go toe to toe with her own party, to battle hard, in the words of Churchill, “whatever the cost may be.”
If only she’d meant it. The Mooch does.
I intend to enjoy the carnage that is to come.
Bleed them, man. Take them for everything you can get.