The Iron lady Margaret Thatcher
Courtesy: PA Photos /Landov
There are diverse characters in the human race. Some allocate their lives in impressing the whole world, and others, care least. Then there is a third kind, who go down the history for their inexplicable will to fight for a change. This is one such lady who never backed down, the longest running Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher.
Thatcher’s death provoked a peculiar reaction in Britain. A divisive figure as she was, her death was equally mourned and celebrated. To some she was the greatest peacetime Prime Minister and to others, a cruel iconoclast. Her drastic economic policies were often dubbed as uncaring, while her attitude was uncompromising.
The Iron lady was bestowed the title for her conviction politics, indomitable courage and adamant nature. The first and the only woman prime minister of Britain, she had it in her to mesmerize even her opponent. Such was her persona that you can love her, you can hate her, but you cannot ignore her!
Even before she took over as the Prime Minister, she provoked criticism in 1971 when she abolished free school milk for over 7 years old, in the backdrop of a bleak economy. This earned her notoriety as a, ‘milk snatcher’.
Her deflationary strategy, upon taking charge as the Prime Minster in 1979 incorporated several measures such as, increase in indirect taxation and control of money supply. Consequently, pound sterling strengthened whereas manufacturing industries were hard hit and industrial production steeped to its lowest ever.
As people lost their jobs, it led to wrath and resentment! She was detested, her popularity flared, but not her resolve, for she then famously remarked, “To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catch-phrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: you turn if you want to; the Lady’s not for turning.” By late 1980, she was able to significantly cap inflation.
Shorty after her election, world witnessed the sight of a woman charged with restoring British pride in the Falklands War. In an unequivocal show of bravery, Thatcher consented to waging war with Argentina to re assume control over the Falkland Islands. She not just won the war, but re-instilled British pride.
Her abhorrence for trade unions is widely contested. She got legislation to restrict leadership of the trade unions, whose power she was adamant to curb. The intransigent trade union had wrecked much havoc back then, and none other than Thatcher had the guts to take them down.
While most of the strikes in response to her legislation collapsed, miner’s strike left a deep scar in her political legacy. A year into the strike, coal miners finally conceded, however by then, considerable damaged had incurred. Government closed down unprofitable mines and the remaining were privatized. Thousands were left without a job and many communities were devastated!
Some says she created a class divide, while others say she merely reflected one that was already prevalent in the society. Transition into free market economics was painstaking change which she firmly stood for. At the heart of her policies was aspiration to lift her country from the helm of economic loose.
Widely attributed for ceiling inflation and sowing the seeds of modern British economics of free trade and privatization, Thatcher moved beyond pity political gains. Her political legacy referred to as ‘Thatcherism’ aimed at uplifting British society in a long run.
When Thatcher was voted to power, British economy was crippled, society was skeptic and polity was meek. Her actions caused a major discomfort amongst people facing the tough changing times. It was a bitter but necessary pill.
Wining one election after other, she proved that politics is a matter of making decision and taking measures, to not flinch for a moment for the lost vote bank or collateral damage. She knew the distaste in human minds for change, but she was charged with will, determination and drive to make one.
Faced with a choice to either be a mute spectator or take control of the situation, she chose the latter. No right political move can encapsulate popular mandate. Some gain, some loose. In pretext, what matters is what remains. After weighing all the odds as against the battles won, we ask if it was worth it. I say, hell yeah!