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“Margaret Thatcher was one of the most vigorous, determined, and successful enemies of socialism the world has known.” *

Only those of us over fifty remember that socialism, communism, and doctrinal Marxism dominated nearly two-thirds of the world in 1970’s. I remember going by the office of one of the sociology professors at my college in Minnesota in 1970 and being shocked by the framed centerpiece on her message board. It was a portrait of Vladimir Lenin and below his picture the professor had posted “My Hero”. This was typical of the higher education system here and in Europe. Even after politicians recognized the failure of socialism, leftist ideologues have tried to keep Marxism alive.

When Margaret Thatcher took over the reins of government the Berlin Wall had not yet Margaret Thatcher fallen. It seemed that the whole world was only going in one direction – socialism. “Capitalism” was, and still is in many places, a dirty word. Margaret Thatcher took on the challenge of reversing was seemed to be an inevitable slide into socialism in Britain.

Margaret Thatcher is also worthy of a place in history as a woman – a woman who achieved great things that no other woman has ever achieved before.

Where did this amazing woman come from? Perhaps part of her rise to prominence was due to her humble beginnings. We often think of those who reach the highest positions of power in Britain as being members of the upper classes. But Margaret Thatcher was born in a not very well known little city to lower-middle class, hardworking parents.

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire above her father’s grocery store. Alfred Roberts was a lay Methodist preacher. He also served as a town alderman and city mayor, so Margaret was not only exposed to the Bible but also to politics. Margaret’s own speaking career actually began in church when she read from the pulpit as a child.

She helped out in the grocery store where she learned to be frugal and thrifty. These characteristics along with the industriousness and sincerity of her Methodist upbringing informed her economic policy in her later years.

At the local grammar school Margaret was known as a hardworking and very disciplined student. She earned a place at Somerville College at Oxford University. Only a few colleges admitted women then; Somerville was an all-woman’s college.

Margaret became president of the university’s Conservative Association. She achieved this position through her hard work and respect from her peers even though most of them were male.

She had no use for “Women’s Lib”. It has always been a well-known fact that the more loud and obnoxious a woman is, especially if she is always pulling out the “gender card”, that she is trying to make up for less than stellar intelligence or giftedness. While feminists were screaming for their rights, Margaret was calmly going about her business rising above it all and earning her place in history based on her own hard work and achievements.

thatcher-chemistAfter Margaret graduated from Oxford, having taken a Second Class degree in chemistry, she took a job at a plastics factory in Essex. She immersed herself in politics, running for a seat in Parliament twice, in 1950 and 1951, not succeeding either time. She did not expect to win against the entrenched Labour candidate. It was just typical politics in Britain; but she gained notoriety with her vigorous and energetic campaigning.

During her second campaign she met and became engaged to Denis Thatcher, who was heir to a successful chemicals business. It is true that Denis’ money helped Margaret to campaign and to succeed as much as she did; but theirs was truly a love match. Denis was utterly devoted to Margaret and supported her to the end of their lives.

In 1959 Margaret won a seat in the House of Commons. She was the youngest woman in the House. In 1961 she became the under-secretary for pensions and national insurance.

When the Tories were ousted in 1964, Margaret spent six years as an opposition party member. She built a reputation for diligence and a remarkable memory for statistics. No one as yet recognized her for the leader that she would become.

During the 1970’s the government’s responses to strikes were very weak. Unemployment was high. Labor disputes led to the ousting of the Conservatives under Edward Heath. The Labour Party took power under Harold Wilson and the way was paved for Margaret Thatcher. While this party was in power Britain came very close to becoming an all-out socialist country. The unions, some of which were run by open Communists, were running the country.

Britain became the laughing stock of Europe with a weak economy. Having fallen from the huge empire that they once were, they were now the second poorest country in Europe. Socialist policies were clearly not working.

The people were tired of “garbage and dead bodies in the streets”. They voted the Conservatives back in power in 1979 with Margaret Thatcher as the leader. They were hoping for a change.

At the age of fifty-three, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman elected as Prime Minister in the history of Britain.

In her early years as Prime Minister, Margaret made some mistakes. She was not popular as she struggled to correct the problems that she inherited, but she always sought to do what was right no matter how many people opposed her.

Her father had taught her not to go along with the herd if the herd was wrong. Margaret was strong enough to withstand the pressure from the opposition when she knew she was right.

Margaret took on the unions when the previous male leaders backed down to them. She appeared to be insecure at times but it was only because of her sex and her middle-class upbringing. These things made her cautious. But when she knew she was right, as when she opposed the openly Communist leader of the miners, there was no hesitation or backing down.

Being a grocer’s daughter allowed Margaret to pursue an anti-socialist agenda in a way that aristocrats could not. Socialists had a way of making aristocrats feel guilty. They could not play that card on Margaret.

Margaret turned things around for the British. She turned their flagging economy into one of the strongest in Europe. She returned dignity to the people by deregulating many industries and letting the people run the businesses themselves.

Margaret showed the world that a country could be turned around. She helped to change Great Britain and the world for the better. (In part 2 of this story there will be more detail of what she did, how she did it, and why it is significant.)

By 1990, the European countries were trying to form a union. The story of Margaret’s position on this is complicated, but she did not believe that becoming part of the union was best for Britain. The new European economic unit would have ruined the pound and Britain’s monetary policy. Unfortunately, many other influential governmental leaders were in favor of Britain’s cooperation with the union. Margaret tendered her resignation to the Queen on November 28, 1990.

Britain is well off today thanks to Margaret Thatcher. Of course, they have a new menace in the form of the Muslim threat that exists all over the world. It would be interesting to know how Margaret would handle it if she were here. I am sure she would handle it with more backbone than the current leaders. Margaret was able to discern the forces in history and master them. We will need to learn how to do this if we are to survive. And I pray that God would give us a leader with as much courage as Margaret Thatcher.

*Claire Berlinski in There is no Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters, pg. 5)

 

 

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