Still a need for Thatcher
On Monday one of the great leaders of the Western world’s 21st century died.
Margaret Thatcher was not a technocrat, but a politician with an attitude. She stood firm with the country’s trade unions, even though Great Britain’s economy was in a dire situation. She was fierce in confrontation with Argentina’s military when they invaded the Falkland Islands. She defied certain members of her Conservative Party who wanted a u-turn on some of her economic policies, including her privatisation of state-owned industries and strong focus on bringing down inflation.
One of Thatcher’s strengths was that she could present her political viewpoints before the elections and implement them after. She paid tribute to the classic British value of ‘Rule of Law’, which limited government and personal freedom. It is something that Danish politicians could learn from today.
Thatcher was probably the most unlikely political leader of post-war Great Britain.
When she took power, Great Britain’s economy was unstable. Thatcherism, as her policies became known, set about curbing government spending and tightening monetary policies as well as cutting industry subsidies. Thatcher’s unpopularity rose among the people, especially when she introduced a new council tax, the Poll Tax. Her policies and decisiveness were at times ruthless; the Russians even branded her ‘The Iron Lady’ due to her involvement in ending the Cold War − a name she later took as a compliment.
However, weak opposition from Labour and her determination to implement tough political decisions made Margaret Thatcher not only a respected politician but the first female prime minister of Great Britain.
Thatcher may be dead, but Thatcherism policies continue to be as prominent today as they were in the 1980s.
A critical epitaph for the Iron Lady
Perhaps out of all the tributes paid to the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel’s is probably the most revealing. At no point does the German chancellor mention the former British prime minister’s privatisation policies or neo-liberal economic ideologies. However, she chooses to highlight the Iron Lady’s contribution to overcoming the division in the European continent in 1989.
Merkel, known as the ‘Iron Chancellor’, has been likened to Thatcher due to the painful economic austerity measures that she has forced upon southern Europe, similar to what Thatcher did to Great Britain in the 1980s.
The irony of it all is that Germany’s Iron Chancellor does not share Thatcher’s liberal and anti-government ideologies. On the contrary, Merkel has not dared touch the pillars of the German welfare state.