Agree or disagree with Margaret Thatcher’s policies, she was a remarkable woman. Her service, conviction and influence are worthy of remembrance. We cannot deny her enduring legacy. She wrought dramatic and lasting change. Foremost, Mrs Thatcher’s death ought not to be celebrated. It is insensitive and crude to rejoice in her passing because it pays no homage to her as a person. Hate the crime but not the criminal. Hate the policies but not the politician. This article pays tribute to her personal fortitude in three sections; humble origins, man’s world and endurance. Irrespective of your political persuasion, Margaret Thatcher overcame great challenges to serve the country and people which she deeply loved.
Margaret Thatcher was from a modest family. Unlike many of her contemporaries in the Conservative Party, she did not have status, money or connections from birth. Her father was a greengrocer and local councillor; noble in practice but not in regards to social hierarchy. She attended the local state school and won a scholarship to study chemistry at Oxford. Her academic success reveals her hard working, determined and diligent nature which she retained through her life. Mrs Thatcher remained true to her humble origins, ‘The things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election’. Mrs Thatcher presented herself to understand the struggles of the ordinary man, woman and child. Humble origins had a political advantage but her middle-class upbringing presented challenges when searching for a safe seat in her early political career. The rise from a grocer’s daughter to Prime Minister is remarkable and demonstrates that with hard work, vision and determination any challenge can be overcome.
One of those challenges was dominance of men in British politics. She said it herself, ‘There will not be a female Prime Minister during my life time’. In her early career, being a female hindered her ability to be taken seriously and made finding a safe seat difficult, especially in the industrial electorate of Dartford. Once her career was established, Thatcher used this male dominance to her advantage. Instant domestic and international recognition, flirting when young and being a mother like figure in her later career. Thatcher presented herself as the housewife of Britain in touch with the ordinary but also a strong and determined woman. Ronald Raegan’s quotation, ‘She is the best man in Britain’, embodies her resolution to make tough decisions when those around her had weakened. Mrs Thatcher did not let the male-dominated system control her, she controlled it. As the first woman to lead a Western political party, Margaret Thatcher demonstrated courage to enter and subsequently lead the Conservative Party to three consecutive election victories.
To be Prime Minister for 11½ years required endurance. As the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th Century, her devotion to the job and her country is exemplary. Furthermore, her resolution to continue despite bitter personal criticism is the embodiment of resilience. ‘I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because it means they have not a single political argument left’, reveals that her political principles were superior to her emotions. ‘I am not a consensus politician. I’m a conviction politician’, resonated with many Britons when trade unions were holding the country to ransom and Argentina had invaded British sovereign territory. ‘If you just set out to be liked you would achieve nothing’. Margaret Thatcher devoted her life to bringing about the change she viewed was best for Britain, enduring harsh and very personal criticism. Agree or disagree with her, we cannot deny her unflinching service to her country and people.
Margaret Thatcher was a remarkable woman. Her personal fortitude to rise from humble origins, enter and lead male dominated Westminster and endure bitter personal criticism will be recorded in a favourable light. Hate the policies, not the politician. Irrespective of your political opinion; Margaret Thatcher’s service, conviction and influence are worthy of remembrance. .