Margaret Thatcher: A Lady "Not for Turning!"

John Meakin
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As news of “Maggie” Thatcher’s death hit the headlines, tributes began pouring in from around the UK and right across the world—from friends and foes alike. For, like her or loathe her, you could never ignore her—her leadership, her iron will and indomitable spirit, her total conviction and self-belief, and the remarkable impact that she made on her country and upon the world stage that she dominated. Hers is a truly remarkable legacy that will be discussed and debated for months and years to come. It will take books to do justice to all she accomplished.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, the Oxford-educated research chemist and lawyer, rose from humble origins as a grocer’s daughter to become Britain’s first female Prime Minister (1979–1990) at a time of immense national despair and weakness. She won three elections and served more than eleven years in office—Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister in the 20th century.

When she came into office, Britain was on its knees—“The Sick Man of Europe”—still reeling from the aftershock of loss of empire, beset by vast economic problems and struggling under the deadweight of entrenched labor union power. The International Monetary Fund had been called upon to bail out a broken economy on its last legs.  Britain was going through its “winter of discontent.” What was needed was nothing short of a revolution.

“Maggie’s” timely arrival at the apogee of power provided just the steely resolve and sterling leadership that would drive forward that revolution. She brooked no opposition, and famously declared “the lady is not for turning” as she implemented often-unpopular policies to turn her nation’s economy around. Though loathed by her critics, she kept her resolve, and her policies began to bear fruit. Britain began to turn the corner.

It is no exaggeration to say that Britain under Maggie Thatcher was transformed. She broke the mold of contemporary politics and put Britain back on its feet economically. Prime Minister David Cameron said it was she who put the “Great” back into “Britain”—that “she didn’t just lead her country, she saved it!” Even many on the opposing side of the political spectrum honored her for her accomplishments; at her death, United States President Barack Obama lamented that the world had lost “a great champion of freedom.”

Like her or not, Thatcher’s influence was immense, and gave rise to the term “Thatcherism”—an outlook that promoted free market forces, a strong central government, a passionate belief that self help was preferable to reliance on the state, and a visceral dislike for anything corporate that took away from the power of the individual. In a sense, today’s citizens of the United Kingdom are all to some extent “Thatcher’s children and grandchildren”—for good or ill, her policies and thinking live on.

Thatcher’s critics condemn the great wave of selfishness that her liberalizing economic revolution unleashed. They have a good point. Arguably, the liberal attitudes to business and capital held by Thatcher and her supporters played a major role in the “credit crunch” debacle that engulfed the U.S., Britain and the entire global economy in 2008, from which we are all still in the process of recovering.

All of this reminds us of another revolution that Britain—and the entire world—sorely needs: a moral and spiritual revolution. Capitalism is, by definition, an amoral system. To ensure its success, it needs to be implemented in the context of a system of morals that restrain its excesses and foster its strengths. For generations, in Britain and elsewhere, that system was provided by the Bible and the moral code it contains. Today, Britain and other English-speaking nations are increasingly rejecting the morality of the Bible—a rejection that will end badly for our world, until just before its otherwise-inevitable demise, Jesus Christ will return to save rebellious mankind from itself and usher in a revolutionary new system of government that will bring true peace and prosperity to a world gravely in need. To learn more, order our free booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?