Well Done, Lady Thatcher: The Passing of the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest leaders of the Cold War, of the 20th century, and of British history, has died at the age of 87.
I’ve referred to her as one of my Cold War seven: Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Boris Yeltsin, and Margaret Thatcher. They were the seven figures who dissolved an Evil Empire, and only Walesa and Gorbachev still remain with us.
The world dubbed her the Iron Lady, a title that duly fits. Many, however, mistake the Iron Lady moniker as referring solely to her strength in the Cold War. There was much more to it. Consider:
Margaret Thatcher is arguably the most complete British leader of the last 100 years, surpassing even Winston Churchill. Like Churchill, she was tough and successful in foreign policy, taking on and vanquishing totalitarian evil. Churchill warned the world as the Iron Curtain descended across Europe. Decades later, the world celebrated as the Iron Lady helped break the Iron Curtain.
Margaret ThatcherBut unlike Churchill, Margaret Thatcher had enormous domestic successes that Churchill couldn’t touch, and didn’t dare try to touch. When World War II closed, the British people booted Churchill from the prime ministership in preference of Labour leader Clement Attlee, who gave the British populace Keynesian socialism. The masses wanted their welfare state, and Attlee, equipped with promises of “change” and “forward,” gave them a fundamental transformation. In no time, Attlee’s party was spending money unlike anything Britain had ever seen, nationalizing everything under the sun, including with the progressive left’s coup de gracegovernment healthcare. It was a giant government binge that would bury Britain for decades.
This fundamental transformation to welfare-statism was so thorough, and so imbibed by the electorate, that when Churchill later returned to office for another term (1951-55) the World War II hero couldn’t stand up to the sacred cows of Britain’s new nanny state. By the late 1970s, the United Kingdom was smothered not only by massive government expenditures and debt but by the enormous and disastrous government unions that the Labour Party had built and nurtured.
All of this came to a crashing head in the late 1970s, and fittingly under the Labour Party, this time led by Prime Minister James Callaghan. The signature event was the Winter of Discontent (1978-79). The economy was an utter train wreck, debt-ridden and hampered by a prolonged un-recovering “recovery.” Things were made far worse by continual work stoppages by striking public-sector unions. Given that the government ran just about everything, thanks to decades of the British left nationalizing everything, there was garbage literally rotting in the streets and dead people not being buried because of striking government refuse workers and gravediggers.
Things got so bad that the British electorate was willing to elect a bona fide conservative to run their government: Margaret Thatcher. This was not some squishy moderate that we in the United States would have called a Rockefeller Republican or (today) a RINO. This was the real McCoy; the genuine article. Here was a new leader who actually understood and could articulate what was wrong with Britain—and had the courage to do something about it.
And so, Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first-ever female prime minister, embarked upon an extraordinary run from 1979-90 that featured three consecutive electoral victories, including the landslide that brought her to power. She then proceeded to take on not just the Soviets abroad, but, at home, the powerful government unions, the Keynesian spending, the bloated cradle-to-grave welfare state, the punitive taxes, the burdensome regulations, and decades of government nationalizations/seizures. As to the latter, Thatcher began a comprehensive campaign of privatization that returned freedom, solvency, and sanity to Britain.
It was an amazing performance. You can now expect a remarkable outpouring of emotion and appreciation in Britain, much like what America saw with the death of Ronald Reagan and what the world witnessed with the passing of John Paul II, her two Cold War partners and kindred souls. And like her two great Cold War allies, she fortunately lived to see the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Lady Thatcher outlived both Reagan and John Paul II. Her health, unfortunately, had been in decline for a long time. I recall that she recorded a video eulogy for Reagan’s funeral rather than address the audience live and directly. That was 2004, almost 10 years ago.
I also recall her parting words to Ronald Reagan: “Well done, thy faithful servant.”
And now, we can second that tribute. Well done, Lady Thatcher.
Image credit: shutterstock.com

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • vito

    I hope every British Catholic who voted for her has confessed the mortal sin of voting for an openly pro-abortion candidate. She put every effort to make sure abortion is readily available in her country. She, was also not a friend the poor. And of course, she married another woman’s husband. Well done indeed.

  • vito

    And of course, there were no seven or any other number of “figures” who dissolved communism or the Soviet empire. It just went bankrupt and had to make certain changes, reforms. The empire ruined itself. Each of those personalities played their limited roles in encouraging and/or benefiting from that process, although they were very reluctant to support the first breakaway Soviet republics (the only true brave heroes here – at least they took a real risk). And the newly opened Kremlin archives show that Thatcher was not inclined to encourage the de-communisation of East Europe and was not in favour of German re-unification.

  • erudite_recondite_eremite

    Your point about abortion is well made. The question of whether she was a friend of the poor is certainly open to debate. As to her marrying another woman’s husband:
    “Although initially very happy, [Denis] Thatcher and his first wife never lived together. Their married life became confined to snatched weekends and irregular leaves as Thatcher was often abroad during the war. When Thatcher returned
    to England after being demobilised in 1946, his wife told him she had
    met someone else and wanted a divorce. Their childless marriage ended in
    the first weeks of 1948.[9] Kempson married Sir (Alfred) Howard Whitby Hickman, 3rd Baronet (1920–1979) on 24 January the same year. Thatcher was
    so traumatised by the event that he completely refused to talk about
    his first marriage or the separation, even to his daughter, as she
    states in her 1995 biography of him.” He did not meet his future wife, Margaret, until 1949. (Wikipedia)

  • Mike, New Jersey

    Your article is very flattering to Margaret Thatcher. I’m sure she was a great leader in world terms. She also has her skeletons in the closet, which the movie did not touch, and which you seem to ignore.
    There will not be many flowers blooming in Ireland from the tears shed for Thatcher.
    10 men died on hunger strike demanding civil rights in 1981 in Northern Ireland, which was not mentioned in the movie or by you. Those accused of the Guilford & Birmingham bombings, later shown to be innocent were kept in jail at Thatchers insistence until the evidence of their innocence was unquestionable. The injustice of their being found guilty was never investigated.
    She was anti Irish and anti Catholic. She may have been a strong leader, but unlike Diana Spencer, she was no humanitarian.

  • vito

    Sounds like a pretty usual divorce story. I mean, each divorce ( or abortion) has a very sad story behind it. So what? If no exceptions, than to exceptions. Let’s not apply a double standard. When Obama is pro-choice, he is a DEVIL, when Thatcher is pro-choice, it’s OK, because she spoke a few words against Communism and was a very good friend of people who had a lot of money.

  • Peter Nyikos

    What you don’t seem to realize, vito, is that in the Parliamentarian system the only Catholics who vote for the prime minister are the party members in Parliament. Common citizens can only vote for their own representative, and the party that has the majority of representatives in Parliament gets to name the prime minister.