Baroness Margaret Thatcher

In this laissez faire society of ours, it is hard to understand the hatred which spews forth in Britain upon the death of Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The poor woman is dead, but the knives are out and none more vicious than from the mouth of former actress turned MP, Glenda Jackson.

The closest we have come to such bitterness would have been Gough Whitlam’s dismissal in 1972 when he famously said “Maintain the Rage’’, which of course, Australians didn’t do.  He has long been forgiven for his sins and in his dotage is admired by all for his good deeds, his mistakes and messes long forgotten.

Not so in Britain where Maggie’s death has divided the nation.

Yet, there is certainly more praise because Baroness Margaret Thatcher was probably the greatest female political leader of the 20th century. She transformed a nation and inspired a renewed sense of  greatness in a jaded people. She was an incredible, inspiring leader who, using Frank Sinatra’s catchcry,  did it her way, ploughing like a steamroller through her many opponents to achieve her goals.

Political commentators such as The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan heaped accolades on Thatcher stating that she had transformed a languishing British economy to lay the foundation for contemporary British society.

“She crushed inflation, balanced the books, sold off state-owned industries (involving 900,000 jobs) so that they would be more efficient and less prone to public sector union vandalism; she brought unions back under the control of the law…’’ he begins.

“She sold public housing (a million of them) to spread property owning economic independence from the state, and she greatly reduced income tax’’. This was an amazing feat with Sheridan reporting that the top tax rate came down from 83 per cent to 40 per cent’’.

It is interesting to note that she once said “feminism did nothing for me’’. This ruffled many female feathers because she was the epitome of what feminists strive to prove that women are as good as men at anything they turn their experienced hands to.

Hers were humble roots, the daughter of a Methodist shopkeeper, who was neither born with a silver spoon in her mouth, nor carrying  that upper-class born-to-rule mentality. Yet, she most certainly was not a working-class heroine either.  Yet, the doting wife of Dennis and mother of two held firm to kitchen table financial wisdom – You cannot spend money you haven’t got.

She had the political will to reform  industrial relations, but made a generation of enemies, who threw street parties when she died, 30 years after the miners’ strike of 1984-85 when feisty Arthur Scargill became leader of the miners.

Her other famous statement “This lady is not for turning’’ reflected her greatest triumph – revitalising the British economy and reforming a nation in its image of itself.

Anyone who has watched the film Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep may, like me, question whether Thatcher made the right decision to mount the Falklands War. Yet, according to Sheridan, “the whole operation, which Britain swiftly won, changed the understanding of Western military resolve”.

There is no doubt that Thatcher was a role model for my generation.  She had a fortitude which inspired Boomer women to adopt the same stoic resolve, to seek their own possibilities.

Former Prime Minister John Howard credits Baroness Thatcher as being one of the three forces , along with US president Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, with the defeat of communism, the end of the Cold War with Russia and the fall of the Berlin Wall. What a joyous victory for the Western world.

So why all this hatred when her legacy nationally in Britain and internationally is so spectacular?

Well, she did do a lot of things which caused people enormous loss and emotional pain. She did shut 146 unprofitable coalmines catapulting 173,000 people out of work onto the dole queues. That’s a hellavu lot of personal misery and angst. Thatcher stopped propping up markets and deregulated them heralding more efficiency and accountability.   She rid the country of union “vandalism’’ dismantling the once all-powerful union system which often held the country to ransom  – and she went to war and won!

However, perhaps her most amazing achievement was to win over the working classes and introduce the capitalist mindset to millions of Brits. Thatcher shook British upstairs-downstairs society to its core. The would-bes if they could-bes were now becoming “affluent workers’’ able to acquire things their parents never even dreamt of. They became materialistic and they voted Margaret Thatcher into power from May 1979 until November 1990 when she resigned rather than be deposed from within her own party.

How interesting it was to have two all-powerful women –  Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher together – one on the anachronistic throne of England “reigning’’ the Commonwealth, the other ruling Brittania with an all-powerful iron fist. Rumour has it that the Queen did not like her, but in a break with tradition, she will attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. That’s the ultimate statement of respect.



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  1. By Bernie, 26/04/2013 @ 9:11 am

    A very senior Cabinet officer from the Thatcher days has revealed that much of the Thatcher privatisation turned out to be an inglorious failure which had been cleverly concealed from the public until it could be contained no more as the private sector owners of essential services started raising prices rapaciously after having been sold priceless state infrastructure for way below its real commercial value. The contractual arrangements with Government were totally inadequate to contain the rapacious appetites of new private sector owners as contract negotiations were compromised by Thatcher demanding the Crown Lawyers get the deal done and accede to private sector resistance to any accounting for future prices of vital services. Alas much the same has occurred here despite the lessons learned from abroad. Thus we have had massive increases in electricity and water prices and fiascos in the contracting out of the operation of public hospitals like Modbury. Obsessed political ideologues often ignore rational analysis!

    Whilst Maggie Thatcher’s privatisation has been a disaster and while I have some sympathy for those innocent unemployed that followed her crushing of the rapacious coal mining unions, it was something that had to be done to save the country economically and I don’t regard this a really a black mark at all.

    • By Rob Nicholls, 26/04/2013 @ 5:50 pm

      Nadine, I agree with every word you have written. The UK was economically saved by the tough decisions implemented by Margaret Thatcher when PM of the UK. The blame for those that were impacted by the necessary changes rests with previous weak governments who left a legacy of a decaying economic system that needed drastic changes. The prosperity of millions of British people that followed are proof of the wisdom she displayed.
      What we need is another Margaret Thatcher NOW. The western world is in a financial mess from weak governments and nasty medicine will hit us one way or the other. Greece, Spain, Italy and other countries are good examples of spending way more than governments have–and for years. The debt of developed countries is a disaster starting with the USA as the worst example. And some Australian Governments think it is OK to live for years well beyond the income we have. Margaret Thatchers crystal clear thinking on living within our means and building prosperity through the private sector and getting government out of the way is the way ahead. Governments don’t create wealth but they are very good at spending it!

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