Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain’s only ever female Prime Minister and quite possibly the strongest post-War Prime Minister, passed away this morning. Behind her, she left a British society which will never forget her, so profound was her impact upon it.
Furthermore, her death proved to be just as divisive in public opinion as her time spent in public office (on a separate note, judging by some of the things said about her on twitter you could be led to believe that half of the United Kingdom were conceived, born and bred in the coal mines such was the bandwagon of abuse). On the one hand, there are Thatcher advocates who hail her as a Great Briton, Britain’s saviour and a champion of “British values”. However, if you are from the North of Britain or heavily affiliate yourself with the left-wing of the political spectrum, chances are you regard her as a merciless woman who terrorised the working-class due to her dismantling of the trade unions.
Being only 20 years old, I am in no true position to profess any substantial views on her. What I asked at the family dinner table this evening, however, was “what was Britain like before Thatcher?”. According to my parents, the 70’s was riddled with power-cuts, three day weeks, streets littered with bin-bags (uncollected because the binmen were often on strike) and statements that Britain was the “sick country of Europe” (when the Iron Curtain in Eastern Bloc was still drawn!)
Whatever you think of her, her legacy is clear to me: a hard-as-nails woman who never compromised her values and made people proud to be British (those who were around at the time will fondly tell you of the time we pummeled Argentina into subsmission in 1982). A person with unflinching moral principles is hard to come by these days so I think Thatcher must be significantly lauded on this front.
A (true) story of what happened during a of hers visit to the SAS has always made me laugh. The SAS has a mock-up building in Hereford called the “Killing House” to practise close-quarter combat and anti-hostage drills with live rounds. On this particular visit, Thatcher and her two aides (one called George) posed as hostages, as was custom for when high-profile men and women visited this establishment. As the SAS burst into the room of the “Killing House” they were sat in whizzing live bullets past them, her two aides threw themselves to the floor in panic and fear. Maggie’s reaction? She didn’t flinch, looked down at George and loudly told him, “Get up, George! You’re embarassing me.” She always lived up to her moniker, The Iron Lady!
Great Britain lost someone very special today, a colourful character worthy of everyone’s utmost respect, even those staunch enemies of hers on the opposite benches in the House of Commons.
So was Thatcher a saviour or butcher of our society? You’ll get mixed answers depending on whom you ask, I personally believe she was a force for good (emphasis on the force) and did everything in her power to push Britain in the direction of development and what was best for the country. Her death leaves a simple but sad irony: she’s gone, we need more people like her, but there will be very very few more people like her such was her uniqueness.
Goodbye, Maggie. The world won’t be the same without you.