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7 Things You Should Know About Margaret Thatcher

7 Things You Should Know About Margaret Thatcher

Britain’s Iron Lady, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, died today at the age of 87, at the Ritz Hotel in London. Quite a step up from her family’s grocery in the north of England.

The story of her rise to power is impressive and formidable. But she was never widely loved, even by those in her own party, let alone those outside it. That’s why there are parties celebrating her death taking place in the UK today.

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925, in the small town of Grantham; her mother was a dressmaker and her father a grocer. According to Thatcher, her father was responsible for introducing her to politics and instilling in her the importance of being able to stand on her own two feet.

She became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1958 and a junior minister in 1961. In 1970, when Edward Heath won the election for the Conservative Party, he named her education secretary. She replaced Heath as leader of the party in the mid-1970′s and on May 4, 1979, she became the first-ever female Prime Minister in Britain.

As it happens, I left the UK in the early 80′s, so was not under her regime for long. I sure missed a lot. Here are seven important things you should know about Margaret Thatcher:

1. SHE BROKE THE GLASS CEILING BUT WAS NOT A FEMINIST

Far from being a feminist, many people, myself included, believe that she set back the cause of feminism, by being such a bad example of a woman in power. She seemed to believe that she had to prove herself by being tougher than any man.

Interestingly, in 1973, Thatcher famously said: “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.” Six years later, she proved herself wrong.

From The Guardian:

If a single phrase captured her political identity, it was from her 1980 party conference speech: “This lady’s not for turning.” She played by the rules that demanded that she present herself as soft and yielding, but by her diligent attention to detail, the concentration of her focus, and her appetite for conflict, ultimately she subverted them.

2.  SHE WAS THE LONGEST-SERVING PRIME MINISTER IN 150 YEARS

Thatcher led the Conservative Party to victory three times. As the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, she spent 11 years and 209 days in office. In fact, she was the longest-serving British premier since Lord Liverpool, who held the post from 1812 to 1827.

3.  SHE STOLE MILK FROM YOUNG CHILDREN

As a child growing up in England, I enjoyed my third of a pint of fresh milk every day. In 1970, when the Conservatives won the general election, Thatcher became Secretary of State for Education and Science. The following year, she decided to cut public funding for free milk for schoolchildren, which had been in place since the second world war. That earned her the nickname ‘Margaret Thatcher the milk snatcher,” and should have been a warning of things to come.

4. SHE WORKED TO PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING

Once elected Prime Minister in 1979, Thatcher and her Cabinet immediately began pushing through tough economic measures. Privatization came to be fundamental of the Thatcher regime, and it affected virtually every part of society — health, education, business, the railways.  At the same time, there were also tax increases, and unemployment was rampant.

From The Guardian:

Lord David Owen, the leader of the Social Democratic Party at the time, said Thatcher’s policies created an overwhelming anxiety in Britain.

“A lot of people felt threatened by Margaret Thatcher. A lot of people felt that their whole way of life was challenged,” he said. “And they hated her.”

But, Owen said, Thatcher was determined to drive through her policies, no matter how unpopular.

5.  SHE ORDERED THE POLICE TO DESTROY THE MINERS’ STRIKE

The miners’ strike is easily the most horrendous part of Thatcher’s legacy. There were numerous strikes in the 80′s in Britain, but this one lasted a year and was one of the most damaging industrial disputes ever seen in Britain.

In 1984, the strike essentially pitted the Prime Minister against the most powerful and militant trade union in Britain, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), by closing coal pits and privatizing the national coal industry. This was a fight that Thatcher ultimately won, breaking the back of Britain’s working class, and causing immense suffering.

Miners went on strike in their tens of thousands against planned colliery closures. In working to defeat them, the government ordered the police to go in and break up the picket line; hundreds of injuries were inflicted, but no police officer was ever indicted.

A memoir from one miner, in The Guardian:

I was on strike but I had never been on a picket line. One day in August 1984, I stopped by the colliery to talk to a couple of senior staff. I saw all these riot police coming. There were hundreds of them. As I left to go back to my car, all hell broke lose. I saw a police officer with a fire extinguisher in his hand, bashing a lad in the back. I tried to get closer to note down the officer’s number but they were wearing black boilersuits with no numbers. The next thing I knew, a police officer struck me from behind. I was coming in and out of consciousness as I was dragged across the road into an alleyway.

6.  SHE HATED EVERYTHING TO DO WITH COMMUNISM

Thatcher played an important role in world politics as the Cold War was winding down. In this, she marched in step with the powers in the U.S.

She was vehemently anti-Communist, but did develop a strong attachment to then-Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. And once she became best buddies with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher took her impressions of Gorbachev to Reagan.  The three cemented their close relationship as communism fell.

7.  SHE INSTITUTED A WILDLY UNPOPULAR POLL TAX

This tax, introduced in 1989, meant that my mother, living alone in a small house in the west of England, would have to pay the same amount of tax as a billionaire living in a castle.

It seems that having been “successful” in so many areas, Thatcher thought she could get away with anything. But with this one, she had gone too far.

Up until this point UK citizens paid for local council services under a system known as the ‘rates.’ Under the rates people paid tax based upon the value of their property. Thatcher’s new tax changed this to the number of people living in a household. Protests broke out all over the country, and by the end of the year, Thatcher had been forced to step down.

Many people breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 

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Photo Credit: LeStudio1.com-Bernard Bujold

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493 comments

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10:55AM PDT on May 30, 2013

Careful Chris, rational thought is only allowed in small doses in this forum.

12:06AM PDT on May 30, 2013

Pathetic Article, written by an ignorant, brainwashed leftist drone, who knows absolutely nothing first hand, about history or what Margaret Thatcher accomplished and stood for. Keep repeating talking points feed to you by you Statist Gods - Loser

4:45AM PDT on May 1, 2013

I worked in the NHS during her regime and can attest to some of the damage she did. When she came into power all our utilities and important things like public transport were owned by the people of Britain and run in the interest of the public. By the time she went down she'd sold the lot off, many at ludicrously low prices. Now every time I take a pee someone else has to make a profit! She sold off a lot of publicly owned housing, intended for use by the poor, to her rich friends for very little money thus creating the climate which led to our current housing crisis. Her deregulation of the animal feed industry eventually led to the spread of BSE and deregulating the financial services industry ultimately played a large part in creating our current financial troubles. Her worst crime by far, though, was to create a culture in which greed was good and unemployment was an acceptable part of the equation. Our current government has followed in her footsteps and the human misery caused by their greedy and vicious policies, especially towards the poor, sick and disabled will be with us for years to come.

4:11PM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Beth M, the time Thacther was elected you were still in your nappy, by the time Thathcer stepped down you would have been in your second or third year in High school, your comment is in my opinion no more than hear-say, It was Blair who removed your Freedoms and Rights amd Democracy

There is a very old saying, Never believe what you hear, and only half believe what you see

She was strong and firm, to understander her, you would have to had her as your leader. freedoms and rights, this is what she Thatchers Policies were,

the Right to own Property, the Right to choose your own Health Care and Medication, the Right to be Free and remain free and not to be control by a Federal Europe, Right to elected a British Government to Govern the UK and not the Unions, the Right to Work,

I voted for her in the 1980's throgh out, and if history could repeat itself, I would vote for her again, she made Britain Great again

As for the Milk, Thatcher did stop the school milk for the over 7 in schools, no doubt they were not drinking it, I know for a fact from the age of 8 or 9 years old, the kids were not drinking the milk, they were indeed take the milk home for the rest of the family, my Memebr of Parliament advised me of this at the time, and also I heard this in brench meeting in the 80's

9:20AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

GOOD AN BAD....LABOUR ARE IDIOTS WITH NO IDEA TO CONTROL EXPENDING AND LONG TERM VISION....,,,TATCHER ,VISION JUST... LAZY ON PRIVATISE MAYORITY OF UK COMPANIES ,BUT MADE PEOPLE DREADFULLY GREEDY MOST DISGUSTING BRITS ...TAKERS,,,,,,BUT DID NO ENCAOURAGE GIVERS..HER SON FOR EXAMPLE DICKHEAD GREEDY ,LIAR GOT AWAY IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH MURDER IF NOT MOMMY PUT THE MONEY AND INFLUENCE.SHE HAD MAIL AND FRIENDSHIP WITH J SAVILLS...PHEDOPHLE ..LUCK OF UNDERSTANDING EVIL...TIPE OF HOUSEWIFE MADE IN TO POWER..ONE THING LIKE SHE WAS NOT A CROOK AS A SOME POLITICAL CREATURES......YES GOOD AND BAD...

4:13AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

"I suspect you didn't read the "name on the door" of this site, when you joined 2 days ago - "Racism Unlimited" is just under the bridge, at the end of the corridor ! Not only has your post nothing at all to do with the subject of this discussion, you use it to criticize the whole British nation ("Brits", as you call them). Well I am British and I take exception to your comment !!! ".......exactly, Pamela W. I am an American and I am tired of being judged by the perception of those in other countries based on the actions of a politician such as G.W. Bush, who I never voted for, nor supported.

3:40AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

The fact she was a women who willingly pushed the agenda of the banksters is why she was in power for so long, people are easily manipulated into who to vote for all you need to do in England is hold the election when the soccer finals are on, its that easy. of course her colleages in crime will all come out showing solidarity to the hidden agenda as the sideshow of the funeral kept England well occupied to see the latest atrocities being committed by their leaders, in fact the Queen has sold England out( just like she did to Australia in the early 1980's allowing the Australia act without the peoples consent,) to the European union which is just Communism in disguise and look how much wealth is disappearing in Europe since its inception.

6:45PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

Interesting article. Looking in from the outside: If MT was that bad, I can only wonder why she was the longest serving PM in Britain. She didn't elect herself, did she? I suppose it depends on what side of the fence you are. But being "bad" still doesn't compute with "most successful PM", so successful, as a mater of fact that not only major dignitaries honoured her funeral with their presence, no - even the Queen and Prince Philip were present. As I said, something doesn't compute here. I readily admit that mine may be a "Frog perspective", but somehow I think that there are more of them, who possibly prefer Marshmellow to "Spine"!

1:18PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

It's just unbelievable and horrifying that such a woman could have been in power so long. I knew from the beginning that she was not leadership material and it's shocking that she gained so much power despite her sickening policies. What a pathetic sign of the state of humanity that a woman such as this should be one of the first to achieve such a high government position. Please people, be on your guard this never happens again!

12:11PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

pig

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