Margaret Thatcher was born in 1925. She was selected as a Conservative candidate in Britain in 1951 at 25 years old. She qualified as a lawyer in 1953, while at the same time getting married and then carrying twins. She was chosen for a Conservative seat in Parliament, which she won in 1959. She became leader of the opposition in 1975. She went on to win every election and became Britain’s first and so far, only woman Prime Minister in 1979.
Thatcher was a staunch believer in capitalism and abhorred socialism, once stating, “Socialism is a great idea until you run out of other people’s money…” She fought for individual liberty and limited government. She was not perfect, and she was a thorn in the side of those in her own and the other parties as well because of her positions. It was her strong convictions and acts that earned her the appropriate title, (the) Iron Lady.
Prime Minister Thatcher was not one to back down on threats close to home or half way around the world. She mirrored Ronald Reagan’s determination to show strength thereby keeping peace. From her willingness to face down political violence during the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London, when the armed forces were authorized to use lethal force on the terrorists. Six gunmen held 26 hostages for six days, until the siege came to an end with a successful raid by SAS commandos. And when on 2 April 1982, a ruling military dictatorship in Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The following day, Thatcher sent diplomats to negotiate, who were backed up with a naval presence, if negotiations failed to recapture the islands from the invaders. The conflict escalated from there, erupting into an amphibious and ground combat operation. Argentina surrendered on June 14.
Still, also in April 1984 during the Apartheid of South Africa, Thatcher sent a senior British diplomat to negotiate the release of 16 British citizens who had been taken hostage by an Angolan rebel whose movement was financed and supported militarily by the apartheid regime of South Africa. On April 26, 1984 they succeeded in securing the release of the hostages at the guerrilla base in Jamba, Angola. She also defended her position that economic sanctions against South African countries would be immoral because they would make thousands of black workers unemployed and that the policy of racial separation was ‘unacceptable’. Instead, she believed industry would be the way of breaking down apartheid and argued that political and military measures were more effective in bringing about an end to the unrest in South Africa.
On October 12, 1984 Thatcher insisted that the conference open on time and made her speech the next day as planned in defiance of the IRA who had bombed her room at the Brighton hotel during the Conservative Party Conference. Five people died in the attack, yet her willingness to speak as planned won admiration across all political sides.
During the Cold War, she supported President Ronald Reagan’s policies against the Soviets. U.S. forces were permitted by Thatcher to station nuclear cruise missiles at British bases, in spite of protests by anti-Nuke crowds. Her willingness to embrace Mikhail Gorbachev, the future Soviet leader, was a move which helped lead to the eventual collapse of Communist rule in 1991. She said that the West won the Cold War ‘without firing a shot’, because the Soviet Union would not risk confrontation with British and US armed forces.
It will always be this Margaret Thatcher, the one standing with Reagan that I remember. I grew up in a family not politically motivated or interested. Yet she was a heroine of mine because she stood on convictions, which even though I didn’t quite understand them then, I stood for the same. She was an example to me that no matter who or how many may hate or deride you for them, your convictions, your beliefs are worth standing for. It used to be that even those who didn’t hold the same opinions still admired someone for standing up for what they believed in and not back down.
This week, Obama observed the passing of this great Lady, saying, “Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history – we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will…. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life – free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.”
While paying homage to her is the proper thing for Obama to do, I have to wonder how he and his administration are carrying on the work she dedicated her life to do, because they are the exact opposite of everything she stood for. Peace through strength was her work- not arming terrorists, or bowing to foreign leaders. Capitalism and free market, individual responsibility and a chance for anyone to achieve was her conviction, not spreading the wealth around, cutting down the wealthy with empty promises of rising up the poor.
It is sad that then, these days when the left is always going on about tolerance, that Democrats in America can’t even come to find enough support for a Senate resolution to honor this remarkable woman. She, who except for her more conservative beliefs, is in essence what the left has championed for, a woman who has done it all. Other than giving lip service to those who pass, they cannot seem to tolerate or honor those who truly have changed the world.