Today the world lost a pretty amazing human being. Margaret Thatcher, the only woman to ever hold the post of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minster, passed away this morning after a stroke. She was 87 years old.
To commemorate her, here is a history of her accomplishments. While her politics were and continue to be a source of controversy, she was a very accomplished person, and should be remembered for that.
Born on October 13, 1925, Thatcher would go on to be a British Conservative party politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the post.
She was nicknamed the “Iron Lady”, as she was generally an uncompromising person.
Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation of the financial sector, flexible labour markets, the privatisation of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions.
In doing so, Thatcher undid many of the government controls that led to the creation of the Welfare State after the end of the Second World War.
In a highlight of her career (at least in her own view) was her triumph of the miners, something previous governments had been unable to accomplish. The miners had previously staged national strikes for months on end while demanding wages that the government simply could not afford. The government was often forced to agree with their demands when the coal shortage got so bad that people could only use heat at certain, scheduled hours.
In March 1984 two-thirds of the mining workforce walked off the job after disputes with the National Coal Board. As the strike was not voted through via ballot, it was deemed illegal.
Thatcher absolutely refused to meet the union’s demands. After a year out on strike, in March 1985, the Union leadership conceded without a deal. The cost to the economy was estimated to be at least £1.5 billion. The government closed 25 unprofitable coal mines in 1985, and by 1992 a total of 97 had been closed; those that remained were privatised in 1994. The eventual closure of 150 coal mines, not all of which were losing money, resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and devastated entire communities.
Thatcher also fought with the IRA over the political status of prisoners. She escaped an IRA assassination attempt in October 1984, which increased her popularity which the public.
She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990.
In the past ten years, her health had been extremely frail, and she suffered from dementia. She passed away this morning following a stroke.In accordance with her wishes, Lady Thatcher will not receive a state funeral, but will be honoured with a church service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, where she will be accorded military honours.
To conclude, we present a few quotes from the Iron Lady herself. Her own words describe her character better than any author could attempt to do.
“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”
“Defeat? I do not recognize the meaning of the word.”
“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Rest in Peace, Margaret Thatcher