I am watching the biography of Margaret Thatcher. She’s always been one of my heroes, and has been both reviled and revered by the English for her leadership.
I lived in the North when Margaret ran the country. This was a time of great internal tension within England. The Unions ensured that civil workers, miners, etc. were earning a decent wage at the same time that the cost of the goods delivered by the workers could not support the wages. You could not mine coal and make money. Anyone who has watched Billy Elliot will know a little of the story. The government sent police and military to bust the unions. In the end, the miners caved and the mines closed. Government workers also went back to work. Things ran, but families were put out of work and on the streets. It was a harsh reality.
Margaret believed in a conservative government. She was a Tory who didn’t think the government should take on the role of a nanny state. Children at the time were given free milk for their lunches even though they might be well able to buy the milk. Keeping true to “only financing the essentials” Margaret backed a bill that had already been in the works to stop the flow of free milk. For that, she got the nickname “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.”
It was Margaret Thatcher who stood up to Argentina in the Falklands and regained territory for the citizens of the island thousands of miles from London. I was there through it all and experienced anger from the English that America had not joined in the war. We were protested against and denounced in the media and in real life. Still, I thought she had a real backbone.
When I was in England, I saw the wheels starting to come off and then reset under her leadership. She built strong ties with the most powerful countries in the world. She brought Britain kicking and screaming into the 20th century.
At one point, she was nearly killed by an assassin’s bomb at a holiday beachfront hotel. She walked into Parliament on a daily basis knowing that she would receive verbal abuse, ridicule, and those that would debate her to death over even the smallest issues. She not only broke the glass ceiling, she pulverized it into sand. I can only stand in awe.
Memories run long in England. At her death, many rejoiced. As for myself, I mourned silently. I collected English newspapers from the day, and I thought that, sadly, another piece of my history had been laid to rest.
Margaret Thatcher is buried at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Her shadow is still cast over Parliament by a bronze likeness located at the Palace of Winchester. You can view the statue and have a tour of Parliament along with afternoon tea.
|Margaret Thatcher viewing her statue at Parliament|