She transformed politics as the first woman PM, courageously fighting her way to the top in a male-oriented political world.
For some she orchestrated the start of economic boom and influenced the end of the Cold War. For others she was the cause of the failing banks, as well as the diminishing number of British manual jobs in the 1980s.
Whatever your view of Margaret Thatcher, mention of The Iron Lady gets everyone talking.
I was born in Thatcherite Britain where privatisation of public services had been introduced to lessen the burden on the state, but also allowed corporate enterprise to set prices unchallenged by competitors, leading to (largely) monopolised services.
I remember my dad complimenting Maggie’s tenacity and robust nature. For British Indians she mirrored some of their views on dependency culture and promoting entrepreneurial spirit. She helped many families, like mine, afford to buy their home and seek financial support to establish a business.
But she also introduced free markets, which I doubt she realised would influence the crash of British banks in years to come. She introduced the poll tax, which was received with widespread outrage. Despite volatile protests against the end of the British coalmining industry, The Iron Lady stood her ground. Was it really democratic to resist opposition from such a large minority of the population?
From a female perspective, she was inspirational for working mums and ambitious women, and a breath of fresh air to see a confident lady in a male dominated Cabinet. She dared to implement what other politicians were too afraid to even mention. Her assertive approach helped to put Britain back on the map, secured relations with America and got the economy moving. And let’s face it, she was pretty glamourous too!
What goes up must come down
Like most people in power, Thatcher’s ego got the better of her. When your people are demanding change (both the electorate and her colleagues) it’s time to step down with grace while you’re still standing. But being the stubborn, resilient woman she was, Thatcher refused to budge.
And the consequence? She was backstabbed by her own Cabinet. She was forced to resign after 11 ½ years in power, leaving a divided Britain – a largely positive outlook from the wealthy, and disgust from the less affluent communities.
No matter what your opinion of Thatcher, I think it’s impressive that nearly everyone has an opinion of her. There are not many people in living history who spark such a mixed reaction. Surely this is testament to how influential or radical she was.
I can’t help but admire her strength and tenacity, but also condemn her out-of-touch nature with the common man – despite being a commoner herself!