Tuesday, September 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Margaret Thatcher reshaped Britain

By
From page A6 | April 11, 2013 |

The issue: Prime minister left a substantial mark on her country

Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday at the age of 87, was the most influential British prime minister in U.S. politics since Winston Churchill.

Churchill was close to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thatcher to President Ronald Reagan, whom she affectionately called “Ronnie.” If anything, she was a more effective and forceful advocate of free enterprise than Reagan.

THE FIRST WOMAN to become British prime minister, Thatcher led the Conservative Party to three successive voting victories and governed from May 1979 to November 1990.

Thatcher was the daughter of a shopkeeper — a grocer, a fact that the class-conscious British press invariably mentions high up in her obituaries. In fact, she literally did live over the store.

She inherited the habits of hard work, tenacity and thrift — and an interest in politics. After graduation from the University of Oxford, no small feat for a shop girl, she entered Conservative Party politics. After nine years of trying, she won a seat in Parliament. She was willing to do the thankless, tedious tasks that other politicians avoided, and by 1970 was rewarded with a Cabinet post.

The ruling Labour Party was exhausted, her Tories had an unimpressive line of male candidates and England, in any case, seemed almost ungovernable. Thatcher at first had the advantage of being regularly underestimated by both friend and foe. But, in 1979, she led the Tories to victory and became prime minister, with the condescending consensus that her tenure would be a short one.

THATCHER INHERITED a nation that was on its way to Third World status because of an ossified and truculent trade-union movement, which dominated the opposition Labour Party. The country was subject to constant, crippling wildcat strikes — by hospital workers, railway workers, truck drivers, gravediggers, manufacturing workers — at state-owned enterprises that Labour had nationalized after World War II. Their products were notorious for unreliability and regular unavailability.

Thatcher was under enormous pressure to just give the workers what they wanted under the common delusion that somehow the means to pay for it would suddenly materialize.

She showed her mettle by crushing a yearlong strike by the powerful mineworkers’ union in 1984-85, a victory that did much to reshape the economic and social order of Britain.

That victory was more important but less spectacular than her 1982 victory in the Falklands Islands. She faced down U.S. Secretary of State Al Haig, who Reagan had dispatched to talk her out of a counter invasion. Her credo was to give the order and “let the military get on with it.” The invading Argentines were ousted in less than three months.

The Russian press christened her the “Iron Lady.” One of her most prescient foreign-policy formulations was that Mikhail Gorbachev, then the leader of the Soviet Union, was “a man we can do business with.”

THATCHER’S STEELY interest in U.S. politics continued after Reagan left office in early 1989. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In the following months, as the United Nations was organizing a U.S.-led coalition to free Kuwait — a move believed by many to be a disaster in the making — she told President George H.W. Bush, “This is not the time to go wobbly.”

Thatcher was forced out as prime minister in 1990, a combination of a political misjudgment on a tax issue and the feeling among her rivals that it was somebody else’s turn in 10 Downing St.

Thatcher left a substantial mark on British politics. She also rubbed off on U.S. politics and politicians. Let’s hope her good qualities, like courage and tenacity, survive her.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    UC joins U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    Nature’s beauty is in our own back yard

    By Charlotte Orr | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Jury finds Dixon man guilty of mortgage fraud

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
     
    U.S., Arab allies hit Islamists in Syria, Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: These are the tanks we get

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Harmony Award nominations sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Unscheduled landing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Free community yard sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Street Food Rodeo rolls into West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk kicks off ‘Morning with the Mayor’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    So you want to be an entomologist?

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A4

     
    Sheriff’s Office honored for safe-driving initiative

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Baha’is celebrate 50th anniversary in Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Downtown gift cards get a new perk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Forum will answer questions about new license law

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Applications open for Biberstein grants

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    .

    Forum

    Brother’s drinking out of control

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Daughter has her own opinions

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    We must not stand for perpetual war

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Don’t cut all the trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A great Day in the Country

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Donors support school matinees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A big Explorit thanks!

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Teacher tenure becomes key campaign issue

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Running game powered Devils in first football win

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis field hockey team rights ship at Lassen

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Devil golfers soar past Sheldon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devils bounce back against Pleasant Grove

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie women reach finals of East/West golf tourney

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

     
    U11s get a win in an eventful weekend of youth football

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    A’s support Samardzija in a win over Angels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7