The 3rd May 1979 was a watershed in British political history, not only the first women PM but the first time in a generation that the direction of political travel changed.
Since before WW1 the country had been travelling steadily leftwards, regardless of the political party in charge. The role of the state in society has grown exponentially after the two world wars, to the point by the 1970's that most people felt things had gone too far.
Mrs Thatchers government was ground-breaking in several other ways, for the first time since Disreali the Conservative party adopted a political dogma - instead of being simply the party of the status quo we became committed to actively rolling back the state and taking Government out of whole areas of British life, car manufacturing, running airlines and telecoms businesses became once again things that people, and not Governments, did.
The BBC ran the election night coverage from 1979 in real time all day yesterday on the Parliament channel.
I did not watch all of it but even in the bits I did see several things became clear:
1) Labour - indeed no-one, had any idea that the Tories would be in office for nearly 20 years.
2) The men of the Left were marginally less keen on the reality of upcoming gender equality than the men on the Right.
3) Everyone looks old for their age.
4) BBC left wing Bias - perhaps journalistic left wing bias, was more obvious then than now.
5) The country was in a worse condition then than now - and yet people seemed less aware of how bad it was, compared to public opinion today.
6) “Who” mattered a lot less than “what” in peoples minds when voting.
But the big lesson for me from 1979 is not the result, it is the quality of politicians and the calibre of their debate.
We absolutely have to restore a functioning democratic debate based on issues and competing solutions if democracy is to have a purpose - and for the population in 2040 to look back and be able to be see a relevance in the 2010 election night.
Too much of modern politics has become about spin and presentation, threats and intimidation about what the altenative might mean, challenging the integrity of one's opponents and digging dirt rather than an honest debate about alternative visions.
That is another, less welcome, Thatcher legacy. New Labour didn't invent spin they simply refined it to a new level.