This morning saw the passing of Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979-1990.
Writing a comprehensive, fitting tribute for Margaret Thatcher is so very difficult, due to her huge influence, and countless achievements; but contained within her popular nickname of ‘The Iron Lady’ is the essence of the woman. The only female British Prime Minster in history, she guided the Conservative Party to three General Election victories in a row and is still viewed today by many as a symbolic rallying point for those who fight for the cause of free markets and individual liberty (of which the true extent of her advocacy is still hotly debated). Her sweeping reforms to the UK economy ̶ which had previously been referred to throughout the 1970s as the ‘sick man of Europe’ ̶ encompassed various tax cuts, releasing Britain from the grip of trade unions, sweeping privatisation programmes and attempting to control inflation through the doctrine of monetarism. Defending the Falkland Islanders’ right of self-determination by sending a British task force to re-take the islands in 1982 typified her own personal brand of unashamed conviction politics which, for better or for worse, guided the course of British history for over a decade.
Adored and reviled in roughly equal amounts, there is no denying that Mrs Thatcher was one of the most controversial and divisive figures in British politics. Only Baroness Thatcher and Tony Blair have lent their surnames to popular ‘-isms’ (Thatcherism and Blairism respectively); this assists in demonstrating the enormity of her contribution to the shaping of modern Britain. For those who were around during her tenure in government, and indeed for those whom Andrew Marr referred to as the ‘children of Thatcher’, the passing of the woman represents a moment for reflection. Everybody has an opinion of Margaret Thatcher, and no doubt this will be expressed during real-life and online discourse in the days to come.
Margaret Thatcher is dead. This will mean different things to different people. But the fact that it means something to so many of us shows that with conviction, persistence and in the right circumstances, it is possible for an individual to help change the course of history. That lesson is inspirational, universal and timeless.
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