Margaret Thatcher

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"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning."
Margaret Thatcher
"She has the mouth of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula."
François Mitterand, then-President of France

British Prime Minister (and the only woman to hold that position) for 11 years, Margaret Thatcher is the most divisive figure in recent British political history. Think Ronald Reagan, but British, female, and not particularly cuddly, and you have a fuzzy concept of her.

When she entered Number 10 it was with a mandate to reverse the UK's economic decline. She did this by reducing government spending, encouraging entrepreneurs, moving towards a more free market and selling off a lot of government-owned industries and enterprises, although all these measures pale in comparison to the biggest change of all: the central bank's very conservative monetary policy, which raised interest rates to extremely high levels. This single measure is the most responsible for both the low inflation and the large unemployment of the 1980s.

On the other hand, her economic policies came under fire - and not just from her opponents. Her policies had the initial effect of exacerbating the early 1980s recession. Unemployment rose to its highest level since the Great Depression. Three hundred and sixty-four leading economists released a statement in 1981, criticising her handling of the economy. Even when the economy began to recover, unemployment still hovered around the three million mark and the British heavy industrial sector took a major hit, with manufacturing output declining by 30% since 1978. If it was not for the outbreak of The Falklands War, Thatcher probably wouldn't have been re-elected. It's worth noting, however, that the vast majority of these issues were inevitable, and the previous administrations had simply been delaying them (and thereby making them worse). Thatcher essentially was willing to risk taking the blame for putting the country in recession, as opposed to letting someone further down the line take the blame for complete economic ruin.

She ordered the (re)taking of The Falkland Islands from Argentina, weakened the power of British trade unions, survived an assassination attempt by the IRA (she'd left the room shortly before the bomb went off), forced the EU to give the UK a rebate due to the vast amounts of subsidies other nations got and was an ardent opponent of communism and the Soviet Union. Her 11 year term was the longest in over 150 years, but towards the end, her popularity began to plummet. Many people will still refuse to vote Tory based on her policies, the results of which are debated as Flame Bait.

What can be said is her time as Prime Minister resulted in a significant disembowelment of the trade union movement. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on what your views on unions are. Similarly, Britain's heavy industry sector was sidelined, and the UK became a net importer of goods for the first time in modern history. Again, whether you think this is good or not depends on whether you think the UK should have a manufacturing economy or a service economy.

She was notorious for claiming she was a follower of classically liberal economist Frederich von Hayek. However, unlike Hayek, she opposed the legalization of illicit drugs and denationalization of the money supply.

As you can imagine, she's very divisive.

Thatcher's nickname of "the Iron Lady" originated from the Soviet military newspaper Red Star, bestowed on her for an anti-communist speech in 1976 and not intended as a compliment.

Whatever you think of her, no one can deny that she was a strong leader, able to steer a cabinet of men for 11 years. And, of course, she was not only the first and only female Prime Minister, but the first and only female leader of the Conservative Party, a body not particularly noted as a bastion of female empowerment. That said, when the suggestion of a state funeral was mooted recently, there were some very unkind suggestions for a manner of burial (including not waiting for her to die). The student union of King's College, Cambridge voted to set aside funds for a party to celebrate her death (though they reversed the decision after a hostile reaction). There is sure to be both heartfelt mourning and much rejoicing when she kicks the bucket.

It is worth noting that, despite much of the country despising her, she is the only recent PM commonly referred to by the media as "Mrs Thatcher" rather than just by her surname, and is always the cited comparison for any other female leader in any other country, regardless of how tenuous the comparison.

Also, she was a dear friend of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. And then he died.

The subject of Margaret Thatcher in Fiction is large enough to get a page to itself.

Margaret Thatcher is the Trope Namer for:
Margaret Thatcher provides examples of the following tropes:

Tito: Women shouldn't meddle in politics!
Thatcher: Mr. Tito, I don't meddle in politics, I am politics.

    • "What Britain needs is an Iron Lady."
    • The quote at the top of the page.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Overwhelmingly so. Here are some of her best quips:
    • "Being powerful is like being a lady: if you have to say you are, you're probably not."
    • "Never mind, it's wet outside, I expect he wanted to come in. You can't blame him really, it's always nicer where the Tories are." - On an hysterical protester being forcibly evicted from a Tory rally
    • "He would rather the poor be poorer as long as the rich were less rich. What a policy!"
    • "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."
    • "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do. It won't rust. And, this time I hope, the head will stay on." - On a statue of her unveiled in the Members' Lobby of the House of Commons.
    • When Germany won the football world championship in 1990, she allegedly remarked "They might have beaten us at our national sport, but we managed to beat them at their national sport twice in the 20th century."
  • God Save Us From the Queen: How her detractors perceive her.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight / It Will Never Catch On: Famously stated in an interview that she felt sure there would not be a female Prime Minister in her lifetime.
  • Power Hair
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Margaret Thatcher led the Tory party to three consecutive election landslide victories, all but destroyed the labour movement and the Labour Party, and dragged British politics permanently to the right. But once she became an electoral liability, the Tories themselves were the ones who defenestrated her.