Monday, April 22, 2013

Margaret Thatcher: A Mixed Legacy?

Despite being Britain’s first – and only (so far) – woman prime minister is the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher leaving behind a mixed legacy of her supposedly illustrious tenure as prime minister? 

By: Ringo Bones 

As the former prime minister of Britain, Baroness Margaret Thatcher recently passed away back in April 8, 2013, the myriad tributes and the criticisms of her tenure as the first and only woman prime minister of the UK seems just to prove that she’s leaving behind a mixed legacy of her “illustrious” tenure as prime minister during much of the 1980s. Many a protest march were planned to be staged for her April 17, 2013 funeral for her policies that destroyed Britain’s working middle class during the 1980s. For better or for worse, love her or loathe her, anyone with more than the passing interest of the Cold War era geopolitical power-plays of the 1980s will be hard-pressed to be a mere fence-sitter when it comes to the way the “Iron Lady” wielded her power back then. 

For what she had done good, then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher managed to will her political capital into Number 10 Downing Street back in a time when the proverbial glass ceiling was sturdy enough to withstand a 15-inch artillery shell fired from a naval destroyer. Prospects for women in positions of power were still few and far between during the late 1970s despite a global feminist movement and yet Thatcher successfully established herself in what seems to be a “boy’s only” clubhouse of Number 10 Downing Street.  Probably the same reason why she got disenchanted working as a chemist in a plant after graduating from Oxford with a Chemical Engineering degree and then decided to explore her prospects in the British political arena. 

And lets not forget during the first half of 1982, her decisive action to take back the Falkland Islands after being unlawfully annexed by a military junta then running the country of Argentina really transformed her political fortunes – as in the “Falklands Factor” that allowed Number 10 to recapture the Falklands by June 14, 1982 only secured her incumbency as prime minister for the entire 1980s. After all, before the advent of 21st Century era social media, the only viable way to “kick military dictator ass” is via a large scale military operation. 

Compared to what she did good during her tenure as prime minister many Britons old enough to experience first hand “Thatcherism” still loather her. Margaret Thatcher had been compared to both former US President Ronald Reagan and Adolf Hitler – as both were notorious for drastically curbing the power of labor unions. While still many praised the underlying economic policies of Thatcherism that allowed scores of Britons to cash in the benefits of Reaganomics during the economic boom of the go-go 80s, many loathe Margaret Thatcher for making greed acceptable on British soil during her tenure as prime minister.  

The late Baroness Thatcher will forever be remembered by some as the one responsible for the death of Bobby Sands, an IRA political prisoner, after he died by staging a hunger strike back in March 1981. And many also blamed then PM Thatcher for driving teen age British Catholics to join the IRA during that time. Her Section 28 legislation was hard on Britain’s gay community despite a global consensus of London being seen as the world’s most gay friendly city since 1976. To Britons with more liberal politics, the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher will forever be seen as a “Tory Radical”. 

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