Farewell Dame Thatcher

She transformed Great Britain from a socialist nation to one of freedom and commerce.  Reviled by liberals, loved by conservatives but loved by her nation.  Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, fundamentally transformed Great Britain.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, an outspoken woman known to many as “The Iron Lady,” has died at 87 after suffering a stroke.

“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” Thatcher spokesperson Lord Bell said in a statement.

Thatcher led Britain’s Conservatives to three election victories from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century. Alongside former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher battled against communism and saw the Berlin Wall get torn down in 1989.

On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his trip to several European countries after the announcement of Thatcher’s death.

“We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton,” Cameron said in a statement.

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II was sad to hear the news of Thatcher’s passing, adding that she would be sending a private message of sympathy to the family today.

Downing Street said the Queen has authorized a ceremonial funeral — a step short of a state funeral — to be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It said the funeral will be attended by a “wide and diverse range of people,” and the service will be followed by a private cremation. But it did not provide further details on the timing of the service, saying only that the arrangement are “in line with the wishes” of Thatcher’s family.

During 11 bruising years as prime minister, Thatcher transformed her country by a ruthless dedication to free markets and infuriated European allies. She transferred large chunks of the economy from the state hands to private ownership.

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money,” she once said, according to Reuters.

Thatcher retired from public engagements in 2002 following a series of small strokes, and was only occasionally seen in public since then.

To her fervent admirers, battling Maggie was an icon, a national savior who ended Britain’s post-World War II cycle of confrontation and decline — eclipsed as a 20th-century British leader only by Winston Churchill.

Her vehement critics, however, saw her as a bellicose figure at home and abroad, a destroyer of industries and, with it, a way of life.

She was a sharply divisive figure even within her Conservative Party, especially on the issue of European integration; the party declined into a bickering shambles after she fell from power.

Between 1979 and 1990, her governments crushed the once-mighty labor unions, defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands war and preached military readiness to the Western alliance.

“We have raised Britain in the respect of the world from what it was — broke, bankrupt, unwilling to defend itself properly,” Thatcher declared in 1987. “We have, I think, transformed Britain.”

Thatcher’s years in power overlapped Reagan’s two terms as president, and her support for the American leader and her agreement with his world view never wavered. It was a political union of opposites: Thatcher had none of Reagan’s disarming charm, and he lacked her appetite for hard work and devotion to detail.

The grocer’s daughter became Europe’s first female prime minister in 1979, four years after the Conservative Party surprised itself by making her its leader. Typically, she jumped into the leadership race while more prominent male colleagues dithered, and then proved unstoppable.

Thatcher led the Tories to a landslide victory in 1979, followed by easy wins in 1983 and 1987.

She loved the jokes claiming she beat her all-male Cabinet ministers with her handbag, and reveled in being the “Iron Lady,” a nickname coined by the Soviet press.

At home, she sold huge, loss-making state-owned companies, from Jaguar to national utilities to British Airways. Many became profitable.

For the employed majority of Britons, living standards rose dramatically, but the gap widened between the well-off and the poor.

The late Peter Jenkins, a leading liberal political commentator throughout the Thatcher years, once wrote that she had “changed the political map and put her country on its feet again.”

“She did all this with ruthlessness and much injustice and at a high cost in human misery, but she did it,” he said.

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born Oct. 13, 1925, in the central England town of Grantham, the younger daughter of Beatrice and Alfred Roberts, a strict Methodist and pillar of the local community. Throughout her life, she espoused his values of hard work and thrift.

She earned a science degree at Oxford University, working for a time as a research chemist before switching to law and becoming a barrister — a lawyer who argues cases in court.

In 1951, she married Denis Thatcher, a wealthy businessman 11 years her senior. Their children, twins Mark and Carol, were born in 1953.

She called Denis, who died June 26, 2003, her rock and her great support. He paid for the nannies and private boarding schools which gave her the freedom to make a political career.

Thatcher was elected to Parliament in 1959, the youngest of 25 women in the House of Commons, representing Finchley in north London.

As education secretary in the 1970-74 government of Prime Minister Edward Heath, newspapers dubbed her “Thatcher Milk Snatcher” when she ended free milk for schoolchildren.

Her big chance came in 1975 when the Tories dumped Heath. Thus began what a biographer, the late Hugo Young, called “an era in which an ordinary politician, laboring under many disadvantages, grew into an international figure who did some extraordinary things to her country.”

She marked her course clearly. “A man’s right to work as he will, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the state as servant and not as master, they are the essence of a free economy, and on that freedom all our other freedoms depend,” she said in a speech in 1975.

Her ascension to prime minister came in May 1979 on a wave of popular disgust at high inflation, garbage-strewn streets and a series of public sector strikes under the Labour Party government of James Callaghan.

When her popularity was at a low ebb in 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands. Spurning negotiation, she dispatched warships to the remote south Atlantic archipelago.

“Rejoice! Rejoice!” she exclaimed after British Marines retook South Georgia island. The surge of national pride that followed Britain’s victory carried her triumphantly through the 1983 national elections, a victory aided by a Labour Party torn apart by years of infighting.

Even detractors admired her courage.

After surviving an Irish Republican Army bomb that killed five people at the Conservatives’ 1984 convention, Thatcher brushed off the dust of her shattered Brighton hotel suite and, hours later, made her keynote speech on cue.

She never faltered, in word or deed, in her support of the United States. In 1986, she allowed U.S. warplanes to fly from British bases to bomb Libya. She sent ships, tanks and troops to fight against Iraq in the first Gulf War, but had resigned before the battle was joined in 1991.

Thatcher was one of the first to spot Mikhail Gorbachev as a promising leader of the Soviet Union. “I like Mr. Gorbachev, we can do business together,” she said after their first meeting in Britain in 1984.

Three months later, Gorbachev became the Soviet leader.

In her memoirs, Thatcher said of Gorbachev: “I spotted him because I was searching for someone like him. And I was confident that such a person could exist, even within that totalitarian structure, because I believed that the spirit of the individual could never ultimately be crushed in the Kremlin any more than in the Gulag.”

Thatcher sat next to Gorbachev at Reagan’s funeral, and in a taped eulogy spoke of the personal dynamics of the era of “perestroika.”

“I cannot imagine how any diplomat, or any dramatist, could improve on (Reagan’s) words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit: `Let me tell you why it is we distrust you.’ Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear. But they are also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that would be rooted in trust,” she said.

Though Thatcher’s Conservatives won re-election in 1987, the fall of the Iron Curtain deprived her of a key role as the scourge of communism, and she could appear out of touch with the times. She opposed the unification of Germany in tones that suggested the Nazi era was not forgiven, and her opposition to the growing influence of the European Union became more strident and nationalistic.

Thatcher had often seemed at odds with her own government’s policy of developing European integration, and the issue became her downfall in 1990 when Conservative legislators were feeling a panic over the government’s low opinion poll ratings.

In November of that year, she fell short of winning re-election as Tory leader on the first ballot of Conservative legislators. “I fight on. I fight to win,” she said. But, persuaded that the party had abandoned her, she resigned.

“The people who brought about that incident are responsible for the biggest defeat the Conservative Party has ever had,” she said after Tony Blair’s Labour Party ended 18 years of Tory rule in 1997. “It was catastrophic for me because I got things right.”

Blair’s “New Labour” government, ironically, became part of her formidable legacy. The once-socialist Labourites moved to the center with echoes of Thatcherism — from preserving Britain’s nuclear deterrent to telling single mothers on welfare to find work.

Out of power, Lady Thatcher, named a baroness in 1992, made regular and lucrative U.S. lecture tours, and founded the Thatcher Foundation to spread her free-market philosophy.

Europe remained an obsession. In her book, “Statecraft,” published in 2002, she described the European Union as “perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era” and wrote that most of the 20th century’s greatest problems — including Nazism and Marxism — originated on the continent.

Thatcher hardly ever admitted any regrets, but in a 1998 interview with the British magazine Saga she said she rarely saw her children or grandchildren.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “It’s something that I thought would never happen.”

Was it the price of power?

Source

She helped defeat the old Soviet Union, brought her nation back to economic success, and her best move was to keep Great Britain out of the Euro and on their own currency.  The last was a move that has saved that nation from economic ruin.

She was one of a kind and her ilk will not be seen again for a very long time.

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  • Although Mrs. Thatcher has not been a political force for some time, I find myself in mourning today.

    I am mourning because we have no leaders who even begin to approach the like of this woman — and, of course, Ronald Reagan.

    Mrs. Thatcher once said that she hated to see Britain in decline. Now we see almost the entire West in decline! We need leaders!

    • sean dempsy

      Good riddance, an evil person who made reach people richer and hated the working class and caused misery to many, and now this country is suffering her inheritence. Cammeron is finnishing off her work. Lets party

      • Now this is a typical leftist idiot. Without Dame Thatcher Great Britain would have taken the Euro, the problems of the Euro and would have been financially responsible for the failure of Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc…

        Without Dame Thatcher the economic recovery of the 1980’s in Great Britain would have NEVER taken place. She steered her nation away from Socialism and back to Capitalism and a free economy.

        Without Dame Thatcher and her economic policies, there would be no true home ownership. It was under Dame Thatcher that the average Brit could buy their Council Homes and go from renters to owners. An idea the leftists in Britain still hate.

        Where I come from I was taught the following:

        If you cannot say something nice about someone, say nothing.

        That is a lesson the whore your mother must not have taught you.

        • Geo

          Ouch! That is going to leave a mark, maybe a few.

          • sean dempsy

            she is hated by 40% of my country even after death,she sold council houses to create more tory voters, i will give one thing she killed less people than tony blair. But the ones she did kill were in a contrived war to win her next election. I see no point in disliking some in life then being nice after death. She created the greedy everyone for them selve culture we have today

            • She is hated by those who believe that the government should provide all your needs.

              If you wish to live under that idea move to Cuba or North Korea. There the government supplies all your needs. You don’t see people trying to move to either nation but you do see people trying to flee both nations.

        • sean dempsy

          must be a yank, no response

          • And are you a dumb Brit who believes in multiculturalism and universal freeloading?

            • sean dempsy

              thats good cummimg from the most hated country on the planet, who will protect their stye of living by any means, including invasion of other countries

              • Just remember this little one, if it wasn’t for the United States coming to your aid not once but twice in your history, aid of arms, food, and men, you would be speaking German and Hailing Hitler instead of living comfortably in your home with luxury and comforts.

                You can hate us all you like, but next time you will be on your own. We will not spend our resources on ungrateful little bastards again. The lives of our fighting men are just too precious to try and free your sorry asses.

              • Sean, give me one example of land the U.S. has ever taken and kept for it’s own governance? Then compare that to the U.K. And you think we’re hated?

          • Geo

            I got something for you to “yank” on and while you’re at it probably choke on it at the same time.

            No matter where you find the “occupy/teeter/union” crowd they are all the same. Just looking for their next hand out while they try and dig deeper and deeper into other people’s pockets.

            I’m betting sean has a collection of che/hugo tee shirts rolled up in the back pack ready for immediate use.

  • Richard Hensley

    Your “eulogy” for Margaret Thatcher is “spot-on”; the best I have seen in the media. You did a great justice to a friend of American, the such of which may not be seen again for decades, maybe even centuries. It is too bad obama did nor pick someone such as Thatcher for his role model instead of the pieces of crap he selected.

    • Oh ‘butt’ Obummer, the Usurper, is trying to convince his peeps he’s following in Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps. Hello? in his dreams, of his Father, whoever that may be at the time?
      Margaret Thatcher will be missed, she was once, twice, three times a lady.
      We’ll all party when the greedy Obummer Commie Mualim Regime, bites the dust. Can’t happen soon enough!!!!

  • Geo

    One of the worlds great leaders, who’s timing into the political field coincided perfectly with Ronald Reagan here in this country and of course Pope John Paul in the Vatican. A principled individual who never waivered on her core beliefs. They oversaw the total collapse of the Soviet Union without firing a shot.

    She warned Britain about entering the European Union and the downfalls of a single monetary system in Europe, she predicted it’s eventual demise where Germany would be holding the strings while other lesser countries went into unsustainable debt and eventual financial collapse. Exactly as it’s happening right before our eyes right now.

    God Bless you Margaret Thatcher!

    “The biggest problem with socialism, is that eventually you run out of other people’s money” – Margaret Thatcher

  • Ken

    Her loss is a sad day all across the world. In a world starving for a decent leader somewhere, she is really a loss, someone to be mourned. Her generation brought us some of the greatest leaders we have ever seen, I will pray for her and for the world to blessed once again with a leader of her caliber. Rest In Peace.

  • To findalis first, thank you for this this insightful memory of Thatcher, posted while I was having fun in New York City (it’s still possible) and what she did to keep her corner of the world free both economically and philosophically. It is unfortunate that the Muslim problem in the U.K. came after her time. Things would be bette had she been able to act against the incursion.

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