LOS ANGELES, April 8, 2013 — Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died on April 8 in London after suffering a stroke. The Iron Lady died at the ripe old age of 87, although she had been in ill health for about a decade. While Prime Minister, she joined forces with United States President Ronald Reagan to change the world for the better.
Thatcher took over a nation that was failing, at a time when Europe was in decline and increasingly timid before an assertive Soviet Union. The once proud continent that (with American help) defeated Hitler and Mussolini was on the verge of collapse, its strength and confidence sapped by communist groups like Italy’s Red Brigade, the expansion of socialism, militant trade unions, and an ever more intrusive state.
Misery as measured by unemployment, inflation, industrial shutdowns and bureaucracy were high. The primary role of the British Prime Minister was seen as managing the nation’s decline. No one even thought about turning England around.
Then Margaret Thatcher strode onto the stage like a giant.
Thatcher once said that “the problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” More pointedly she remarked, “There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.” Unlike most Tory leaders, Thatcher was not content to merely slow and manage the advance of socialism. Her goal was to take it, grab it by the throat, strangle the life out of it, and remind the nation that invented the idea what economic liberty was all about. She was an unabashed, unashamed advocate for free markets and individual liberty.
She took on the labor unions. Until she did, they had a stranglehold on Great Britain. You couldn’t get a job if you didn’t join a union, and the unions were corrupt. They routinely shut down the country to demonstrate their power, and none of the men who preceded her dared to take them on. Instead they compromised. Said Thatcher, “I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air.” “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to comrpomise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” She didn’t set out to be liked, and the unions despised her.
She was unapologetic about adopting a muscular foreign policy. Her first test was the Falklands, a group of islands in the South Atlantic whose occupation by Argentina would have been easier to ignore. Yet standing up to drive Argentine forces from British territory was a matter of principle. As she made clear to Reagan as they faced the Soviet Union, appeasement was never an option.
Thatcher took on the entrenched Labour Party and the weak-kneed men in her own Conservative Party. In important battle after battle, she won. When she succeeded, England succeeded. While she did not completely eliminate the welfare state, she breathed life into the British private sector and strengthened every segment of society from the working class to the upper class.
Although she is not thought of as a “feminist,” she is exactly what feminism was meant to be. “I’ve got a woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.” She proved that a woman could lead an entire nation while balancing a family, and remarked, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” She was a devoted wife and mother, as well as being fiercely devoted to Great Britain. She was the first woman to lead the Conservative Party and the first female British Prime Minister.
Like any great conservative leader, she was loved by conservatives and despised by leftists. Yet their hatred could not alter the truth: Her policies at home and abroad worked. She won her elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987 with landslide majorities. She was brought down in 1990 by a revolt within her own party. Her replacement brought the conservatives down with him, and Labour returned to power. Yet Thatcher was still so popular that Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted on a “new Labour” that continued some of Thatcher’s policies. The Blair model openly and directly copied America’s Bill Clinton, who refused to reverse much of Reagan’s legacy. Conservatism was now ascendant, and socialism was on the run.
Thatcher was deeply admired in the Reagan White House, and she was perhaps the only person other than Nancy Reagan to refer to the President in public as “Ronnie.” Nancy was Reagan’s wife and the love of his life, but Lady Thatcher was his “Ideological soulmate.” When George Herbert Walker Bush took over, the “special relationship” between England and America continued, but it was not the same. Sensing that Bush was not a true Reagan conservative, she cautioned him not to “go wobbly” in dealing with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
Lady Thatcher (by now she had been made a life peer as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven) was an ardent supporter of the George W. Bush Global War on Terror, launched in the wake of 9/11. Although she had been out of power for over a decade, she was still a respected world figure. She understood the threat of Radical Islam as a danger to the global economy and the Western way of life. She also understood the threat of radical leftism, and took pride in crushing it whenever it was in her way.
She took delight in being seen as more “manly” than most men, but she remarked, “being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” In the end, she should be remembered best for what she was: Margaret Thatcher was a spectacular Prime Minister and one of the greatest world leaders of all time. She saved a nation on the brink of collapse and turned it around. She did so with grace, class, and dignity. She was the best of the best, and will be missed.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS.
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