Current Events & Trends: Margaret Thatcher: Giant in an era of decline

You are here

Current Events & Trends

Margaret Thatcher: Giant in an era of decline

Login or Create an Account

With a account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


Noted author Max Hastings summed up the legacy of Margaret Thatcher: "She was Britain's greatest peacetime prime minister of the modern era . . . It was her achievement to halt a national economic and industrial decline that had seemed irreversible."

When Thatcher be-came prime minister in 1979, Britain was sinking in socialism. She strove for privatization and free exchange and soon found an ideological soul mate in U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Together they championed liberty and strengthened the special relationship between their two countries.

Somehow this person of simple truths and humble roots, raised by her parents to believe in the traditional virtues of thrift, family values and hard work, served as Britain's prime minister for 11 consecutive years. She loved her country with patriotic fervor and warned the British people about the dangers of becoming entangled in a federal Europe.

Hastings remarked about "her impassioned hostility to the march of the European Union toward what she saw, with remarkable prescience, as a federal state rather than its proper role as a trading bloc." Baroness Thatcher actually stated, "In my lifetime Europe has been the source of our problems, not the source of our solutions." Hastings concluded, "Her fears about the dire consequences of an attempted integration appear highly vindicated by events."

Imbued with far-seeing vision, she was not afraid to speak out, however unpopular her views might have been. But how did she develop these traits? Lord Griffiths, former head of Mrs. Thatcher's Downing Street Policy Unit, stated that "it quickly became clear in private meetings that her strong personal faith was the basis for her world view and her approach to public policy." For instance, she believed that "we are all created in the image of God" (The Times, "The Iron Lady," special supplement, April 9).

Historian Paul Johnson further noted that Margaret Thatcher believed in the Ten Commandments and especially telling the truth—qualities all too rare in political leaders. (Sources: Daily Mail, Financial Times, The Times [London].)