Margaret Hilda Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979, and again in 1983 and 1989. During her reign she healed economic wounds caused by the policies of Edward Heath (Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974), vowed to end the culture of dependency created by entitlement programs, embraced free enterprise, held a hard-line against communism, and boosted British nationalism during the Falklands War.
In her first term, Thatcher had a role in deceasing inflation of the Pound Sterling and enacted many policies to stimulate Britain’s economy. One of the most popular things she did was decrease the income tax rate in Britain from 98 percent to 40 percent for the top earners, 83 percent to 60 percent for the middle class, and 33 percent to 25 percent for low wage earners. Folks like Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney could stand to live in Britain then, and two million people who made next to nothing did not have to pay income taxes at all. Thatcher kept money in the pockets of her constituents by keeping less government hands out of them.
Thatcher wanted British businesses to create jobs and flourish. She encouraged free enterprise by directing the privatization of under-performing government owned enterprises. She gave ordinary people the chance to buy stock in those companies, cementing the London Stock Exchange as the most powerful stock market in Europe.
Thatcher’s toughness against communism during the Cold War signaled to the public that she would help in any way she could to prevent a nuclear holocaust; an assurance that must have meant much to the people of Britain who were mercilessly bombed by the German Luftwaffe in World War II. Thatcher was a formidable ally with Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States at the time. Together, they exerted considerable pressure on the Soviet Union to bring about the end of the Cold War.
Thatcher’s success with the Falklands War campaign gave a much needed boost to British nationalism after the embarrassing Suez Crisis under Prime Minister Anthony Eden. The Falklands War showed that no matter where you were in the world, if you flew the flag of the British Commonwealth, you would be protected.
Although Thatcher is probably second to Sir William Churchill as the most iconic British political leader in modern times, she was considered a controversial figure, and even survived an assassination attempt. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In recent years, publication after publication has evaluated her legacy, and in the words of a recent National Post article, deemed “Margaret Thatcher was right”.
Personal experience – facts learned while taking British History Since 1935 at Oxford University under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Holmes in the Summer of 2004.
BBC News. “Evaluating Thatcher’s Legacy”.
Time Magazine. “Margaret Thatcher”.
National Post. “Margaret Thatcher Was Right”.