Margaret Thatcher. A name that evokes anger and rage in the hearts of some, whilst with others, it brings back some fonder memories of a political era like no other.
Thatcher’s name has been uttered a handful of times in the past few weeks leading up to the Independence Referendum in Scotland. Whether this is due to her infamous attitude towards Scotland’s now defunct industries, and how she dealt with them, or if it’s just a generational hatred for her which has been passed down to this new electoral generation, we cannot know. Some have even cast blame for the referendum upon her. This however, is simply speculation. One thing we can be sure of, is that her harsh, well articulated voice shall echo around the hollow, ligneous halls of the commons for many years to come. But what legacy did dear old Maggie really leave?
When Thatcher first took office in 1979, the country was in a state of disrepair worse than it had been since before the days of war. The Unions had finished off James Callahan’s political career and the public wanted a change, and what a change they got. The winter of discontent had struck deep into the heart of Britain during the later months of 1978, causing icy tensions on the streets and in the lower house. Thatcher swept to victory with a steady majority of 44, and would assert her dominance over Britain for the next 11 years. It was a shock to the world that a woman was now leading one of the most influential countries on the planet. She did not allow her gender to be an obstruction to the way she was viewed by the media, the public, or her fellow MP’s. Thatcher cast her iron fist down upon many more men than could ever have been perceived by the world at the time.
Thatcher reformed the way that people thought about the free market, as she subconsciously developed Thatcherism, a political philosophy and economic ideal during her time in office. In its most basic form, Thatcherism represents the idea of having a free market by which businesses have free reign and the Governments job is to stay as far away from intervention as possible. Thatcher wanted to make Britain economically great once more, and (to the dispute of some) she did. Thatcher pulled Britain out of the sinking hole that the previous Labour governments had thrown her into, and increased the country’s GDP by 29.4%, which is impressive. Thatcher also created a net 1.6 million jobs during her time in office, which is also an accolade to bear.
It would be rude to forget Thatcher’s war, one of the only 20th Century wars to be dubbed a “good war”. The Falklands War lasted only two months, and a it was a war which created a wave of patriotism across the UK for Thatcher’s Government. Even though the Royal Navy took some serious losses during the conflict, Thatcher was still seen by the public as the woman and the leader, who had saved the Falkland Islands and lives of the British people who lived there. This would definitely not be forgotten.
For sure we can see that Thatcher was one of the greatest peacetime leaders we have ever had, it would be absurd to deny this. She managed to define what it meant to be a true, hardworking Briton again. Through her dominance in the commons and her staunch attitude for reform, Thatcher created a conservative vision that David Cameron could only dream to implement today. We can all rest assured that Thatcher and her actions have been immortalised, and what she did for this country will always be part of the lives of the forthcoming generations. Her calling card will remain, whether they like it or not.
Daniel Sulsh – A2 Politics Student