Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Passing of a British Political Titan

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Passing of a British Political Titan

Article excerpt

WITH the death of Baroness Thatcher, Britain loses a political titan: a politician who genuinely changed the face of Britain. She divided the country -- but she was impossible to ignore, and the changes she wrought largely impossible to reverse. Her legacy remains enormous even today, more than 22 years since she left Downing Street.

Margaret Thatcher was the politician who broke the postwar mould of British politics. Not only were the 1970s our worst moment of national decline; they capped a long stagnation of British politics following the end of the postwar Labour government. In fundamentally changing the terms of the political debate, she succeeded where others before her on both sides (Harold Wilson, Harold Macmillan) had failed. But she also succeeded in driving through her vision in a way that those who followed her -- even Tony Blair, the most invincible PM since -- never lived up to. She was the original modern conviction politician.

It did not always look as though she would manage it. Her manifesto in 1979 was little different from Ted Heath's in 1970, and her popularity in 1981 dropped to record lows. What she showed then, however, was the strength of character and the determination that mark out political greats from the usual merry-go-round of ministers. She simply refused to buckle under either the economic crisis of the early 1980s or the Falklands war. Aided by a Labour Party at war with itself, she increased her party's majority in 1983 and moved into a new phase of her career.

Mrs Thatcher's second term was the one that changed the most about Britain: the privatisations, the victories against both the miners and the print unions, the shake-up of the City in the Big Bang -- a sign of her willingness to take on vested interests across the board -- and the revitalisation of the special relationship with the US. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.