Today is the 40th anniversary of the election of Margaret Thatcher as the first female prime minister of Great Britain—a precursor of the election the following year of Ronald Reagan.
Before her arrival many people thought England’s long, slow postwar decline was irreversible. “Britain is becoming a third world country . . . an offshore industrial slum,” Economist magazine correspondent Robert Moss wrote in 1977. Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw recall in their book The Commanding Heights of the episode when Thatcher visited the Conservative party’s research department after she became party leader, where she found a party staffer writing a paper on how the Tory party should adopt a “middle way” between left and right. Thatcher erupted. “She was not interested in refurbishing Harold Macmillan,” Yergin and Stanislaw recount. “Instead, she reached into her brief case and pulled out a book. It was [Friedrich] Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. She held it up for all to see. ‘This,’ she said sternly, ‘is what we believe.’ She slammed it down on the table and then proceeded to deliver a monologue on the ills of the British economy.”
If the the feminist and identify politics left were sincere about their demands for “diversity” and female representation at the summits of power, Thatcher would be one of their patron saints. Certainly she was not averse to feminist sentiments, such as her famous early (1965) comment that “If you want a speech made you should ask a man, but if you want something done you should ask a woman.” But of course the feminist/diversicrat left is really interested in leftism, not “diversity.” I recall that back in the 1980s feminists would refer to Thatcher (also Jeane Kirkpatrick, then our UN ambassador) as “female impersonators.”
The Adam Smith Institute in London has this nice recollection of Thatcher’s top ten achievements in office, among which my favorite is Number 10:
By taking a firm stand against Soviet aggression and expansionism, and supporting President Reagan by deploying US missiles to counter Soviet missile deployment, she was instrumental in bringing the Cold War to its end in victory for the West and freedom for those who had suffered under Communist dictatorships.
Just now, with our socialist moment in American politics, it is worth recalling her fabulous smackdown of socialism in the House of Commons (Memo to: President Trump—take notes on this):
And in contrast to the current female prime minister of Britain, I think we know how she would handle Brexit:
JOHN adds: I yield to no one in my admiration for Prime Minister Thatcher, so I can’t resist matching Steve’s photo with this one. I sometimes say that you can always tell when I am photographed with a close personal friend, because I am wearing a tuxedo: