The BBC reports that Lady Margaret Thatcher has died at age 87 of a stroke. The daughter of a grocer, Thatcher served as PM from 1979 to 1991. Reaction across the web was typical, and can be summed up with this graphic (ht Denise):
I was a tweener and a teen in the 1980s and I remember this time pretty well. I started out the decade big fans of both Reagan and Thatcher, but by the end of the decade, I had been poisoned by the constant rhetorical attacks from the left on both of them.
Ironically, very shortly thereafter I became involved in the identity politics of feminism, but led by the left-faction, I dismissed Thatcher’s importance. Maybe it was Sinead O’Connor, of whom I was a big fan at the time, who had a hit with the song Black Boys on Mopeds. It’s a beautiful song that begins like this:
Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her
It was a reference to the death of Nicholas Bramble, who died after crashing his moped while attempting to avoid police. How Thatcher was responsible for the incidence is still unclear, since police neither contacted her during the high-speed chase, nor informed her of the death after the fact. She did not in anyway order the death of the young man, and he was not engaged in political protest, though he was pursued by police in the mistaken belief he had stolen the moped he was riding. It belonged to him. Shortly thereafter, O’Connor moved to Los Angeles, presumably (and ironically) so her own boy would not be “aware that there’s any such thing as grieving.”
In truth, Lady Margaret Thatcher was human, not perfect. Her tenure, like Reagan’s brought about an economic expansion in the wake of the tough decade of the 1970s. One can argue if it was worth it, because the economic rebound was predicated on enormous military expansion in an effort to win the Cold War. Her early tenure was marked by political protests by Labour activists, but her economic policies proved so successful and popular with voters that she was reelected in 1983 and 1987.
Thatcher was a woman of science and law. Originally a chemist, she later became a barrister, which led to her entry into political life. She was elected to Parliament in 1959 and became known as a firebrand there. After a stint as Secretary of State for Education and Science, she won election as the Leader of the Opposition of the Conservative Party, the first and only woman to do so. She led her party to dominance in the 1980s and was elected the first and only woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, a mere 20 years after the start of her political career. She served 11 years as Prime Minister.