The Lady’s Not For Turning: Margaret Thatcher, a Life Remembered

April 10, 2013

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

By Guest contributor Josh May

In the world of armchair generals, my father is a field marshal. From childhood, I’ve sat listening in awe and wonder to his stories of battles and wars long gone. If there’s been a war, he’s heard of it- and he can tell you a story about it. But of all the conflicts he’s ever told me about, he held none in such fascination as the Falklands War. “It was just so improbable. Who could have seen that coming?” he would ask. So improbable – such is a fitting description of this and every other chapter in the life of the one, the only Margaret Thatcher.

If one is to believe the chorus of voices on the political left, nothing about Margaret Thatcher’s laundry list of accomplishments should have been possible. You can’t go after the Argentinians for those silly Falklands! Best to let it go, let’s not suffer more embarrassment. Never mind cutting off government funding to those mines, ma’am; they may be running the taxpayer a huge loss, but they make the unions happy! But madam Prime Minister, you can’t challenge the Soviets so, one mustn’t upset them. Now listen here, you really shouldn’t associate with that cowboy Mr. Reagan. You’ll just go about causing more trouble.

Had Mrs. Thatcher listened to any of those voices at all, had she denied that same intrinsic character that earned her the fitting moniker Iron Lady and the first female premiership in British history, Margaret Thatcher would not have been Margaret Thatcher. Hers was the British spirit- the characteristically stoic, stiff-upper lip mixed with acerbic wit and boldness of character – truly, an Iron Lady. Her greatest accomplishments- revitalizing the British economy by championing small-government, supply-side economics, defending territorial integrity, restoring confidence in the British military, and standing strong as a force against tyranny in the world qualify her term as Prime Minister as a whirlwind tour de force. An inspiration to not only her beloved countrymen, but to liberty-loving people everywhere, Margaret Thatcher was not one to sit by quietly. Defying expectations became her expectation, destruction of the status quo became her status quo.

It is tempting to cast Margaret Thatcher into established archetypes – a Governor Coolidge on labor strikes, a Churchill on national defense, a Reagan on economics. The truth, however, is that she carved out a unique niche in history for which she will always be remembered. Her legacy is still felt to the present day. A look at recent news articles show that many of her longest-lasting triumphs still reverberate: not only have the British still refused to adopt the Euro, there is talk now of an EU pull-out referendum. Not only have the Falklands been liberated from Argentina, they have overwhelmingly chosen to remain a British territory. Not only has personal wealth in the UK risen 80%, but reforms like right-to-work, paths to council home ownership and tax cuts have ensured a prosperous England.

Her distinct brand of governance, “Thatcherism” was not without its critics, however. As the Prime Minister once wryly remarked, “If my critics saw me walking over the Thames, they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.” Contemporary dissidents, succeeded by modern-day legacy-bashers, have done little to harm Thatcher’s image. She was always amused by such opposition, and would not be at all offset by the crowds of despicable liberals seen cheering and chanting upon news of her death. “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” A far more fitting legacy for the late Prime Minister is to be found in the fantastic book: The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister. Undoubtedly, Mrs. Thatcher is right at home amongst these two other supremely consequential Cold War figures.

In the end, it is once again in her own words that we find the most apt summary of the Iron Lady’s governance: “Defeat – I do not recognize the meaning of the word!” So it always was with Margaret Thatcher, and so it will always be with her legacy. The indomitable British spirit, cheeky pluck, and uncompromising moral absolutism all intersected flawlessly to create the most powerful and influential woman of our lifetimes. Dignified in matters of principle and indignant in the matters of evil, a warrior to her enemies and a mother to her country, Margaret Thatcher’s complex and inspirational legacy will rightly endure through the ages. She will be missed by a nation and world forever grateful. Godspeed, ma’am, and God bless.


Bio: Josh May is a freshman at Binghamton University majoring in Political Science and Arabic. He has been involved in politics since high school and is particularly interested in social policy and foreign affairs. A self-described Santorum Conservative, Josh enjoys studying foreign languages, watching Star Trek and spending time with friends.

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Tags: Cold War, Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Thatcher, Thatcherism

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