In the last 100 years there have been two Great British Prime Minister’s of the 20th. Century, Churchill is one of them and the other is Mrs. Thatcher. Margaret Hilda Roberts was born October 13, 1925. Home was, Margaret recalled, “practical, serious and intensely religious.” During the 1970’s the economy of Britain was dominated by the unions and a ridiculous tax rate of 90%. When Mrs. Thatcher was elected in 1979 she inherited an economy and country which was in hock to the IMF, where inflation was 30%, where there was Power Cuts, Strikes had caused overflowing Rubbish Bins and where bodies were piled high and unburied in hospital Morturies..
The similarities to today is stark, where the British economy in 2010 is overdrawn by 155 Billion Pounds caused by Gordon Brown the ex Labour PM changing the Rules on oversight of the Banks from the Bank of England to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which was so incompetent it missed all the warnings.
What the new government of 1979 had to do was cut back on spending and introduce new laws to curb the unions. One of the best bits of legislation was to outlaw Unions sending striking pickets to other strike actions by other unions and to maximise the number of strikers on a picket line to six. This allowed non strikers to go to work unmolested in law.
Because of the needed cuts the Tory party was quite low in the opinion polls in early 1982 when the dictatorship of Argentina decided to invade the Falkland Islands. This caused the Royal Navy to send a task force to recapture the Falklands and rescue the inhabitants. When the Islands had been retaken it was found that the Argentinians had changed the road signs and traffic flow from the Left to the Right side of the roads. Also, the Argentinians had raided the homes of the local inhabitants and stole goods and food and also killed some 3 Civilian’s.
The Falkland Islands are a group of islands 300 miles east of Argentina. The two main islands are East Falkland and West Falkland. There are about 200 smaller islands that together form a total land area of approximately 4,700 square miles. The capital is Port Stanley. The Falkland Islands include the British territories of South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the Shag and Clerke rocks. The population of the islands in 2010 was about 3,000.
On June 20th the British formally declared an end to hostilities and established a Falkland Islands Protection Zone of 150 miles. This undeclared war lasted 72 days and claimed nearly 1000 casualties. The British took about 10,000 Argentine prisoners during the undeclared war while Argentina lost 655 men who were killed while Britain lost 236. Argentina’s defeat discredited the military government and led to the return of democracy in Argentina in 1983.
Mrs. Thatcher was elected in 1979, 1983 and 1987 and ushered in a decade of painful reform, privatization, deregulation and tax cutting. At first inflation and unemployment rocketed, some businesses crumbled. But—”the lady’s not for turning”—the prime minister brazened it out over three historic terms of office, wrenching the economy back off its knees. At least one widely popular measure was the sale of council houses, allowing by 1982 a half-million people to become homeowners (and possibly Tory voters) for the first time.
Less spectacular but truly far-reaching was Mrs. Thatcher’s role in bringing about the end of the Cold War and contributing to the demise of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. As an individualist and free market advocate, she had an innate and frequently voiced distrust of communism. In Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, however, she found a man she “could do business with,” and she helped to persuade President Ronald Reagan away from “evil Empire” rhetoric to do the same. The chemistry between Reagan and Thatcher made their alliance a high point of the special relationship between Britain and the United States in the 20th century. “She was warm, feminine, gracious and intelligent and it was evident from our first words that we were soul mates when it came to reducing government and expanding economic freedom,” Reagan remarked.
She badly misjudged when she introduced the notorious poll tax despite advice against it; she openly clashed with her chancellor over monetary policy and with her foreign secretary on European policy. Both resigned, precipitating a party leadership battle, which concluded in Thatcher’s resignation on November 28, 1990. She was cast back outside. For once the tears were public as she left 10 Downing St.
Elevated to the House of Lords, she styled herself Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in honor of her roots. She set up the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to continue to promote her ideas and undertook lecture tours; she was particularly gratified by her welcome in the United States, “the seat of radical modern conservative thinking and almost my second home.”
Mrs. Thatcher was Prime Minister for 11 years, six months and 24 days (1979-90)
After a series of small strokes, doctors advised her in 2002 against public speaking.
In 2003 Denis, her constant companion, died; they had been married 52 years. More than any political knocks, it was a devastating loss.
In future history books she will be remembered for her invention of Privatization and Thatcherism and also Sticking to her ideals and her down to earth honesty.
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The Chinese call Britain ‘The Island of Hero’s’ which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.
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