BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
April 8, 2013
Known worldwide as the Iron Lady, former British Prime Minister Margaret Hilda Thatcher has died at the age of 87, according to news reports, based on a release by her family. Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the Twentieth Century and only woman to have held the post.
Born October 13, 1925, her career turned out one of the most remarkable in modern times. A fearless politician, Thatcher served three consecutive times as Prime Minister and during those periods, she was known as a no-nonsense conservative for her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
Lord Bell, Thatcher’s spokesperson confirmed her death at 12:52 P.M. by press release. “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”
Thatcher was a research chemist and later a barrister that many say helped propel her political career. She became Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in 1959 and appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science by Edward Heath in his 1970 government.
In 1975 Thatcher defeated Heath to win the Conservative Party leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition, and first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. In 1979, she won the general election to become the first female Prime Minister of Britain.
She was a politician who transformed Britain’s economy, opposed the trade unions, helped redefine role of the welfare state and reestablished the nation as a world power that embrace free market. Thatcher oversaw an increase from 7% to 25% of adults owning shares, and more than a million families bought their council houses, giving an increase from 55% to 67% in owner-occupiers. Total personal wealth rose by 80% and women’s pay rose dramatically to the highest level on record and remained so.
Barely 17 months into her first term as Prime Minister, Thatcher faced economic challenges. More businesses were failing and Unemployment rose than at any time since the Great Depression. Racial and class tensions became obvious that, her advisers worried her economic policies to stanch inflation, sell off nationalized industry and deregulate the economy was devastating the poor, undermining the middle class and courting chaos.
Her economic policies made her enemies and created opposition among moderates, who believe she was oblivious to life on the streets and challenges faced by common British people, who bear the burden of her conservative fiscal policy. Members of her Conservative Party realized the damage her policies could do to the Party’s reputation in the coming election and warned it was time to reach a compromise with the opposition.
Thatcher never allowed disagreement within her own party to dissuade her. She stood her grounds and went on to make victories that would later turn the Conservative Bloc to a party of reform. Her economic and fiscal policies, revitalized British business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.
While she survived two consecutive terms due to her leadership style, her hard-line approach would later hurt her third term as Prime Minister. She got criticized as being divisive and for promoting greed and selfishness. Many recent biographers have criticized aspects of the Thatcher years as non-beneficial. Michael White, writing for the Left-wing New Statesman in February 2009, challenged the belief among Conservatives that her reforms had brought a net benefit.
Her critics contend She did “little to advance the political cause of women, “either within her party or the government, while some British feminist’s groups regarded her as “an enemy.” Who did nothing to advance women’s cause in Britain, despite being a female Prime Minister. Professor Martin Barker a Left wing, once called Thatcher’s stance on immigration “new racism,” when her policy triggered increased public discourse on racial discrimination.
Opposition over her monetary policy, taxes and Britain’s role in then European Community caused her government to give up hard-won gains against inflation and unemployment. Polly Tynbee a Guardian Columnist, recently called Thatcher a “catastrophe,” for Britain’s social well-being, who split the country right in the middle causing extreme poverty. Her legacy she said was to make Britain think as a “Conservative Country,” and her only influence on British women, was sending a message that as a female Prime Minister, they too could become anything though she was not a feminist.
Now that she is gone, Thatcher would be remembered for her hardline conservative political ideology. Her era of “Thatcherism” influenced by her policies as well as aspects of her ethical outlook and personal style, including moral absolutism, nationalism, interest in the person and an uncompromising approach to achieving political goals, would stay for history to judge despite controversies created by her approach to government.
Jeffrey Archer, novelist and former Member of Parliament, once said one of Thatcher’s greatest quality was her interest in results and “getting things done.” Another of her greatest qualities, he called “loyalty,” despite her status as a controversial politician who believed you cannot always say “yes.” She would stay a leader who transformed British politics with an iron fist, one who after eleven and half years as Prime Minister left Downing Street in tears.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.
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