â€œDing dong the witch is dead,â€ many of her detractors sang. But, like it or not Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a grocerâ€™s daughter, rose to prominence and became one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century, and Great Britain owes her a big thank you!
In the years before Thatcherâ€™s first election, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to President Gerald Ford, â€œBritain is a tragedy: they have sunk to begging, borrowing, and stealing,â€œ said Kissinger.
Thatcher took office in 1979 just after the infamous Winter of Discontent in which the country was mired in daily disruptive union strikes, never ending recession, inflation at 18 percent, high unemployment and failing schools according to Scheherazade Rehman, professor of international finance at George Washington University, in an article from U.S. News and World Report.
Thatcherâ€™s ideology, known as Thatcherism, consisted of core beliefs in small government, privatization, free trade, responsible public services and military pride.
Thatcher began her premiership by breaking the debilitating hold trade unions had on the country whose militant leaders had paralyzed the economy with crippling strikes.
Beth Butler, 78, a retired union member, recently said in an interview with the Guardian: â€œUnions were all-and over-powerful in the 1970s. If youâ€™d didnâ€™t do what they told you to do, they would kick you out [of the union] and [you would] lose your job,â€ she said.Â â€œIt really was the iron hand of communism creeping in and grasping everyone by the throat.â€
â€œFor example, [the unions] would force employers to split jobs. They would have to employ one person to heat the rivet, a second person to hand the warmed rivet to a third person, who would hit it into the hole,â€ said Butler.
If one needs a physical reminder of the successful free trade policies under Thatcher, Canary Wharf is a very good example, said Charles Moore, the author of Margaret Thatcherâ€™s authorized biography. â€œBefore she came along they were dilapidated docks. But, new financial skyscrapers now dominate these docks, considered to be the Wall Street of London,â€ said Moore.
The Iron Lady never walked away from a fight. When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, she stated her rationale for war. â€œYou simply do not take what does not belong to you,â€ Thatcher said. And because of her â€œironâ€ will in just a matter of weeks, Britain won the war.
Thatcher along with her ideological American cousin, Ronald Reagan, â€œThe two of them worked so well together that they soon made the stagnation and malaise of the 1970s seem like a distant memory for both their respective nations,â€ said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation. â€œBy standing up to communism, they broke the back of the Soviet Union and brought the Cold War to an end without, as they say, firing a shot,â€ said Gardiner.
Thatcher was convinced that liberal policies just didnâ€™t work. â€œSocialism governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other peopleâ€™s money,â€ said Thatcher.
Ronald Reagan once said, â€œFacts are stubborn things.â€ Well, here are some stubborn facts from the Thatcher years.
Whether one calls her The Iron Lady or Thatcher the Milk Snatcher, the stubborn facts of Thatcherism â€” which liberals conveniently seem to forget â€” speak for themselves.
The English people elected her to office three times and during her terms, inflation plummeted to 4 percent and remained low, unemployment fell to 7 percent, public education was reformed with the passage of the U.K.â€™s 1988 Education Reform Act, and military pride returned to Great Britain.
How many more Winters of Discontent would the British people have had to endure if not for Thatcherâ€™s policies?
Love her or loathe her, thereâ€™s no denying Thatcher restored Great Britainâ€™s international prestige and brought her beloved country from the brink of financial collapse.
Britain had to change and Thatcher had the courage to make it happen.