As an American, one might presume that the politicians I admire most would be Americans.
Actually, one of the leaders I respect and most revere is former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Given that, I was very saddened today to hear of her passing.
Dubbed by the Soviet press as the “Iron Lady” (a moniker which stuck with her throughout her life), Thatcher truly embodied what it means to have the courage of your convictions. A conservative, she believed that the Socialist policies of the British government were destroying her country, and she aimed to reverse them. Initially, it appeared that her attempts would fail, but she stuck to her principles and in the end she stood vindicated in her beliefs.
Her constant battle against Socialism is best summed up in one of her most famous quotes: “Socialist governments traditionally make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It is quite characteristic of them.” Her last exchange with Members of Parliament on Socialism is one of the best I’ve ever heard on the subject.
In coming to power, her aims were quite clear. As she put it, “I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society—from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.”
With our own country seemingly bent on becoming more like Europe, it is interesting how Thatcher dealt with the difficulties Great Britain faced after years of embracing some of the very policies our own country seems ready to adopt. Her biggest and most difficult battles were against trade unions and her resolve in fighting them, even if it meant dipping into her own personal popularity, is striking. In that sense, she seems a lot like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey who is currently taking on the unions in his own state.
As a woman, I can’t help but admire the fact that Thatcher rose to such great power given her origins as a grocer’s daughter and Chemistry major at Oxford to becoming the first female leader of Great Britain (Queens excluded, of course). Given the fact that the United Kingdom is historically very class conscious, this was an incredible achievement, one even the United States has yet to attain.
Here are some of my favorite Thatcher quotes:
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Margaret Thatcher stood by her beliefs for the good of her country, a trait which is sorely missing in political life today.
She will be greatly missed but certainly remembered for generations.