Britain’s “Iron Lady” dies at age 87

Jennifer Byrd

News Editor

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister, died Monday after suffering yet another stroke.

“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” Lord Tim Bell, Thatcher’s spokesman, confirmed, according to Reuters.

Margaret Thatcher Dies At 87

Thatcher was born in 1925, the daughter of a grocer. After attending the University of Oxford, she worked her way up through the British Conservative Party, starting in 1959 when she entered the House of Commons.

In 1979, Thatcher led the right wing of her party to a decisive electoral majority, ousting James Callaghan of the Labour Party. She became the first female head of government in Europe.

Known for her uncompromising politics, Soviet journalists coined her “The Iron Lady” due to persistent antagonism of their country’s leadership.

To her enemies, she was a stonehearted tyrant. Criticized for not empathizing with the poor and middle class, she was accused of having cruel and short-sided policies that hurt the poor and widened the gap between the upper and lower classes.

She cut national financing for the arts and academics, forced the Labour party to forsake its commitment to nationalized industry and deregulated the economy.

But to her supporters, she grew the middle class by revitalizing business and spurring industrial growth. Her progressive policies turned the Conservative party into the party of reform, as it had long been associated with upholding the status quo.

Regardless of personal opinion, Thatcher helped move Britain away from socialism and ushered in a new era of British politics that still reins today, liberalism.

“The thing that people do not recognize is that Margaret Thatcher is not in terms of belief a Tory. She is a nineteenth-century Liberal,” Milton Friedman, famous American economist once said of Thatcher.

Commonly called “Thatcherism” in Britain; classical liberalism advocates free markets, tax cuts, nationalism and firm control over public spending. It is often compared to “Reaganomics” of the United States.

Thatcher resigned from the office of Prime Minster in 1990 after public disapproval of the 1989 poll tax prompted Conservative Parliament members to vote against her.

The BBC said her critics claim British society is still feeling the effect of her divisive economic policies and the culture of greed and selfishness they allegedly promoted. Meanwhile her supporters believe she was a revolutionary figure who transformed Britain’s stagnant economy, tamed the unions and re-established the country as a world power.

Regarding criticism, Thatcher famously responded, “if you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing. ”

Regardless of varying opinions on her policies, her legacy will certainly not be one of inaction that achieved nothing.

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