In the current climate of political indifference, Margaret Thatcher (MT) was a Prime Minister (PM) of unique character. She was a woman with a vision for Britain and Europe. She was unapologetic about her convictions and beliefs. When analysing the political life of the first female PM of Britain one has to, however, be careful of not transforming the public discourse into an emotional gibberish about one’s character. Thatcher was a public figure with real power to affect the lives of millions. As such, it is our responsibility to reflect on her life in terms of her policies rather than her character.
Some say the best way to deal with the legacy of MT is to completely erase it from our memory. This would be a great disservice to our societies as her legacy continues to play itself out in the present time. Although I have never signed up to reducing public matters purely to the economy, it is the current economic crisis that is on the upper mind of us all, and it is the misery brought about by the current economic crisis foundations for which can be traced back to Thatcher governments. The crumbling, unregulated and overblown banking sector has caused the collapse of the economy which, in the UK at least, still has not recovered to its pre-2008 levels. Thatcher, a friend of international corporations and big businesses, systematically undermined small enterprises in Britain and stood behind the demise of the manufacturing industry. The decision to not invest in council housing after having sold off most of the properties to tenants marked the current housing crisis in the country; more importantly though, Thatcher oversaw the biggest wealth redistribution from the many to the few, turning Britain into a country with one of the biggest wealth gaps in the developed world.
MT’s policies are certainly a legacy to remember – but a remembrance to avoid and remedy rather than embrace, and for those who still cling to her unique character as a matter for admiration, I have one message – being dogmatic about one’s own self-serving and self-fulfilling prophecies is not worth celebrating. Admiring one’s toughness and stubbornness just for the sake of being tough and stubborn is absurd. It is as if being wrong has suddenly become commendable as long as you are firm and unapologetic enough in being wrong. John Patterson once said: “only fools and dead men don’t change their minds”. MT had a chance to publicly repent her mistakes from the past and she chose not to. Being a fool is not a crime but it is hardly something one should celebrate.