Love her or loathe her -- as many did -- there is little doubt that Margaret Thatcher was the dominant political, social, economic and cultural force in Britain during the latter half of the last century.
Not only was Thatcher Britain's first female PM, but she was also Britain's only female PM, whose 11 years in office were the longest for any PM in 150 years.
What this daughter of a green grocer did, was undo and reverse socialism in Britain that started with Clement Atlee and continued through the leadership of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.
In essence, she returned Britain to private ownership, starting with her fights with Arthur Scargill of the powerful miners union. The battle was ugly and relentless, but she won. (As an aside, a similar battle is being fought today in the U.S. against excessive benefits given to unions.)
By the time she became PM in 1979, Britain was on the ropes as a fading power, the plaything of unions which manipulated the economy. She changed all that through the strength of her character and the force of her convictions.
"The lady is not for turning," she once said, and indeed she wasn't.
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She said "no" to the European Union (in fact she said "no, no, no"), and when in doubt she called upon her own "conservative" beliefs and did what she thought was right -- and it usually was.
Not for nothing was she known as the "Iron Lady." As she said of herself: "I am patient -- so long as I get my way"
She took Britain into a brief war with Argentina over whether the Falkland Islands should remain British, and won. It also signalled that Britain was back as a world influence.
She formed an alliance with U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush -- for Reagan she supplied brain power to do the right thing, for Bush she loaned him courage to do what was right.
As for the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev, she famously said he was someone she could work with...and did.
Parts of Britain never forgave her for bringing the unions to heel.
Admittedly controversial, she was not defeated at the polls by the British electorate, but by the Conservative party shed led from the wilderness to power. By replacing her, the party viewed itself as being pragmatic and realistic, when actually it was being cowardly and cunning.
John Major replaced her, and faded fast.
Fortunately, Labour's Tony Blair had elements of Thatcherism in his genes. His support of Bush the Younger after 9/11, was pure Thatcher.
What was refreshing about Mrs. Thatcher was her candour and courage, witness the jibe that "Socialism works until it runs out of other people's money."
We in the West were blessed that Thatcher, Reagan and Gorbachev were in power at the same time. It meant the end of the USSR which, in itself, was a monumental step towards normality. Russia under Putin no longer lusts to rule the world.
Significantly, it is those who revere "freedom" who most miss Mrs. Thatcher. When East Europe wore Communist shackles, Margaret Thatcher was their inspiration and their hope. She gave persecuted people hope.
Sadly, there is no Margaret Thatcher on the political horizon today.
Would that there were.
Now she is gone. Dead at age 87 from a stroke, we are told.
We are unlikely to see her like again.