The Iron Lady

26 Apr

“I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.” – Margaret Thatcher as education secretary in 1973

This may seem like such a cliché to write about the first female British prime minister and a typically feminist thing to do. However, the truth is that until the research began for this article, I really had no idea who she was or what she stood for. Obviously I knew she was the first female prime minister and that in itself is an historical concept but I was born after her time in Number 10.

It was only from her death on 8th April this year and the media coverage after it that really sparked any interest in Thatcher’s life. As I said last issue, I am a great believer in fate and the women I will write about for this series will be coincidently found, whether they are famous or not does not matter. This issue has leaded me to a truly inspiring woman: The Iron Lady.

Margaret Thatcher (formally Roberts) was born in 1925 in Lincolnshire. She attended Oxford University and went on to become a research chemist, then retraining to become a barrister in 1954. She married Denis Thatcher in 1951 and became a mother to two children.

Her first entry into politics occurred in 1959 where she became a Conservative member of Parliament for Finchley in North London. Throughout the 60’s she served many positions in the Cabinet and when Edward Heath became prime minister in 1970, she was appointed secretary for education where she famously stated the above quote. The irony of this quote is amazing because not only was she proved wrong but she was actually the one to prove it.

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Becoming prime minister in 1979 was a turning point for women’s liberation and in an interview with People Magazine in 1975 she said “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman. Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” This statement was a massive eye opener for women and I can imagine that kind of statement must have revoked an inner power in housewives across Great Britain.

From her death recently I couldn’t help but notice the gaping divide in opinion about Margaret Thatcher and there is brilliant article from The Guardian which basically states how the north and south contrast each other in regards to Maggie and it’s understandable because in short, she had to sacrifice the few in order to benefit the many. BUT, isn’t that the case of every leader in a position of that kind of power?Untitled2

Regardless of your political views on Thatcher, the uproar and celebration that took place in the wake of her death was an absolute disgrace and I for one was actually ashamed to be made up of the same DNA as these “people.” She was someone’s mother and if someone ever celebrated my mother’s death (touch wood) then God help them.

Personally, I think as the first woman facing the power and responsibility that is expected from a prime minister, she did a pretty amazing job. This article, also from The Guardian lists 20 examples of changes she made to Britain, some good some bad, but all the sacrifices she made was the sake of bettering the country. She got the country out of recession, which in the current climate we all know how hard that is. In an interview with Women’s Own in 1987 she said:

“They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

This gave women their will to stand on their own two feet and live a life independently. You cannot help someone unless they help themselves. That is one philosophy that sticks with me and it’s one thing that is missing from Britain today. People are having a free ride through life and that’s not the kind of attitude to pass on to your children. You work hard in life and you will see the benefits. She was a respectable leader and lead a great example for people everywhere not just women to follow. Untitled3

As prime minister, it is impossible to please very person and that’s how she was given the name The Iron Lady. She ruled with an iron fist but she had a job to do and she did it. She wasn’t a people pleaser and she was very aware of that fact. If she wasn’t doing the job correctly then why was she elected to serve the full three terms in office? I believe she was walking into the job already facing criticism before she had even begun, purely because a female leader was something alien to Britain. Whatever decisions she made, whatever course she chose would have been wrong in the public’s eyes.

Thatcher was an incredibly strong woman and set a great example for us to follow. She was modest and never used her gender as an excuse and openly said that she owed nothing to women’s liberation. She knew what she wanted and got it and never expected to achieve anything easily. I have a lot of respect for Maggie and pardon the pun but she definitely had more balls than any male prime minister we have ever had. She deserves to be remembered for changing our country for the better and my thoughts go out to her family. I hope she rests in peace.

“I fight on. I fight to win.” – Margaret Thatcher after the inconclusive first ballot in the Tory leadership election, 1990

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2 Responses to “The Iron Lady”

  1. fiona 26/04/2013 at 11:56 am #

    I completely agree with what you’ve said.
    I may not agree with everything Thatcher did, but she did what she thought was for the best (besides, everything she did was agreed on by a majority of MPs she didn’t do it alone – and as you say she was re-elected!)
    I thought the celebrations of her death were disgusting.

    • Melody 15/05/2013 at 2:01 pm #

      I apologise! I did not see this until today. Thankyou for reading my article and glad you agree. I didn’t agree with some of her actions, but what politician has ever been perfect? Even so, her decisions and actions while in power did NOT deserve the celebrations. That’s why I wrote this; I felt like someone needed to celebrate her life not her death. Hope you keep reading!

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