The Iron Lady

The world we live in today is one that Margaret Thatcher played an important role in creating.

Editorial April 09, 2013
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arrives for a service of thanksgiving and re-dedication on Battle of Britain Sunday at Westminster Abbey in London in this September 19, 2010 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

For better or ill, Margaret Thatcher was one of the most consequential figures of the 1980s. As the first woman leader of Britain and the longest-serving post-war prime minister, she remade the country in her own image, breaking the back of the labour union movement and ushering in an era of neo-liberal economics that still dominates the world. Under her, Britain recovered from anaemic economic growth, although till the day she died, Ms Thatcher remained a divisive figure for the unequal distribution of wealth. The controversies over her legacy will rage for decades to come but no one can doubt that the Iron Lady was a formidable presence who, both on the national and international stage, dominated those around her. The world we live in today is one that Ms Thatcher played an important role in creating.

Along with former US president Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul, Ms Thatcher is considered one of the engineers of the downfall of the Soviet Union. That interpretation may be a bit simplistic but no one can doubt Thatcher’s role in bringing a swift end to the Cold War. Her steadfast opposition to Communism, though, did not come without missteps that are acknowledged by everyone now, no matter what their political leanings. She denounced the left-wing African National Congress and Nelson Mandela as terrorists and was one of the major backers of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.

The biggest tribute that can be paid to Margaret Thatcher is that her true successor was found in the previously socialist Labour Party. Tony Blair’s New Labour was essentially Thatcherism with softer rhetoric. Western politics from the 1980s onwards has been increasingly homogenised, with the mainstream of the body politic oriented towards free markets, reduced government spending and the complete absence of trade unions as a major political force. That is the doing of Margaret Thatcher, above all else, a truly remarkable woman who through sheer force of will became a leader who will live on long after her death.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013.


cautious | 8 years ago | Reply

She energized a country - put it back on the map - and was a LEADER which is why she held office for so long. If Pakistan is ever to overcome the extremist and bring the military under civilian control it's going to take someone with the backbone of Thatcher.

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