“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.”
– Margaret Thatcher
The Iron Lady has died. While we are all better off for her contributions to the world, I can’t help but feel there will be no one like her again. Call it nostalgia for the politics of my childhood. The Thatcher/ Reagan years will never be replicated.
Baroness Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925 She went to Oxford and became a barrister, all before marrying Denis Thatcher in 1951. She had two children, twins, in 1953. But that didn’t slow her political aspirations. By 1959 she’d already been elected to Parliament, the youngest of 25 women in the House of Commons.
A little more than 20 years later, she would become the longest serving Prime Minister of Great Britain in recent history.
It’s clear from her professional and political success, Margaret Thatcher believed women could do anything men could. Actually, she believed women could do it better! You might assume she was a feminist. You’d assume wrong. Of feminists, Thatcher said, “The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”
She was right, of course. She was nearly always right. She didn’t owe her success to feminism. Not the radical, man-hating, bra-burning feminism of the day. While women in this country were forming groups like the National Organization of Women and protesting for the right to have an abortion, Margaret Thatcher was clearing her own path. A path that would make her just the sixth woman in the world elected or appointed to lead a nation.
Let that sink in. She followed in the footsteps of women like Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi. The legacy she leaves is incredible. And the choices she made all those years ago still resonate today.
She slashed tax rates, took on the unions, and privatized industries like gas, electricity, coal, and even telecommunications. She, along with Reagan and Gorbachev, through policies and reforms, can be credited with the fall of the Berlin Wall and ending the Cold War. Her tenacity changed the economy of Great Britain. A broken nation became great again under her skilled leadership.