In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died according to reports from several news sources. 

"It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning," former adviser Timothy Bell told the press.

Thatcher, the first and only woman to serve as prime minister, held the office for longer than anyone else in the 20th century. She was a key ally of U.S. president Ronald Reagan in his battle against the Soviet Union and a believer in the power of free markets to lift people out of poverty and to drive economic progress.

While she is now regarded as having significantly changed the political trajectory of Britain, Thatcher was not universally liked for sticking to her beliefs. Aside from opposing communism and socialism, Thatcher was also an opponent of the Irish Republican Army terrorist group. She survived an IRA bombing attack in 1984 right before a major conference which killed five people, including a top adviser. In keeping with her "Iron Lady" credentials, Thatcher started the conference the next day exactly on schedule.

She was a very determined woman in her personal life as well. Thatcher worked as a research chemist before her political career which actually took a little time to get started. She lost her first two elections but was undeterred. Following those losses, she successfully studied to become an attorney while also being pregnant with twins. She then ran a third time and lost an election for a parliament seat in 1955 but ran again in 1959 and won.

Like her ally Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher was extremely articulate and really had a way with words. Here are some of her most famous quotations:

  • Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.
  • I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.
  • To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.
  • Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
  • I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.
  • Individualism has come in for an enormous amount of criticism over the years. It still does. It is widely assumed to be synonymous with selfishness…But the main reason why so many people in power have always disliked individualism is because it is individualists who are ever keenest to prevent the abuse of authority.

That last quote comes from Thatcher's 2002 book, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World. Our friends at Right Wing News published several more excerpts from this very prescient book. Over 10 years ago, Thatcher predicted the failure of the European Union and discussed in depth the rise of Islamic extremism.

The Heritage Foundation has prepared an excellent tribute video to Thatcher which can be seen below:

Margaret Thatcher
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