Just a few moments ago while I was out on a stroll, I was contemplating writing a perspective article on the strong female leads on the Game of Thrones series. In a surreal turn of events, my first search results on my phone shows the breaking news of the passing of Lady Margaret Thatcher – British politician, opposition, and eventually the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If there is any woman who can claim to be strong, fictional or in-real-life, the Iron Lady who dominated British, European and International Politics in a 12 year reign over 3 elections, clearly stands second to none.
This morning, Margaret Thatcher passed on from a stroke at the age of 87. To be clear, this isn’t a sudden onset. She has suffered a series of strokes since 2002 which made her retire for good from politics. And she has been in and out of hospitals ever since.
Please note: Just to be clear, I refuse to get into discussion about political views and whether her actions are right or wrong here. Everyone has a point of view, Instead I will focus more on her character shown through the impact of her actions, rather than behave like a spineless after-action pundit. There are plenty of raunchy political sites that’ll welcome you if that’s your thing. Just not this one.
Who is She?
If you are still unfamiliar with this woman, perhaps you would be familiar with the Iron Lady movie in 2011 which revolves around her life from her younger days to the passing of her husband in 2003. It did win the beautiful Meryl Streep the leading lady award at the Oscars after all.
Her most memorable moments
Margaret Thatcher has a brashness that the sleazy snake-oil politicians of today can only dream of. She didn’t stay in office because of her affable charm, she stayed there because she pulled her nation out of a long-lasting doldrums of economic depression, racial tensions and worker union issues. From the moment she stepped into office, she literally pulled the baby from the teat (she abolished free milk in public schools) and got the United Kingdom on an incredible 10 year journey to economic and social recovery. Though the journey is often wrought with more drama, tension and turbulence then a season of Game of Thrones itself.
Just imagine if someone in the Obama administration is strong-willed enough to do the same for the United States now.
A few key moments of her illustrious career:
Falkland Islands – The United Kingdom fought a short, sharp war against Argentina over the Falklands Islands under Thatcher in 1982, responding with force when Buenos Aires laid claim to the islands. This directly resulted in her first re-election since the country was still going through a very tough transitional phase.
Announcing that Britain had recaptured South Georgia Island from Argentina, Thatcher appealed to nationalist sentiments, advising the press: “Just rejoice at the news and congratulate our forces.”
A journalist shouted a question at her as she turned to go back into 10 Downing Street: “Are we going to war with Argentina, Mrs. Thatcher?”
She paused for an instant, then offered a single word: “Rejoice.”
Pissed off the Russians – Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech. She then made peace with them later when the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.
“The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen. The men in the Soviet Politburo do not have to worry about the ebb and flow of public opinion. They put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns.”
First Iraq War –
“This is no time to go wobbly!”
PM Thatcher to President Bush Sr, 1990
She was in the US on a state visit when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990. During her talks with US President George H. W. Bush, she recommended intervention, and put pressure on Bush to deploy troops in the Middle East to drive the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.Bush was somewhat apprehensive about the plan, prompting Thatcher to remark to him during a telephone conversation that “This was no time to go wobbly!”
I applaud you Lady Thatcher, for never backing down, for believing in yourself after multiple defeats and scepticism. While you may have your quirks and was ultimately brought down by your iron-fisted unpopular fiscal policies. You showed the United Kingdom what needs to be done, and can be done, to move forward as a nation and super-power.
You are wife, mother, leader, voice and will of your family and your people. You stood up to the barbarians at the gates, and using words that will echo into eternity, stared them down and made relics of the Cold War turn tail. You are truly role model, not just for women, but for anyone who truly wants to know what it means to believe in themselves.
If I ever write a story starring a feisty dame bent on leaving her mark in the world, you can be sure I know whom I’m taking my inspiration from. (Hint: Her name isn’t Bella). For anyone out there looking for material in creating a strong-willed female character, this is it.
Goodbye Iron Lady. The world will be a poorer place without you.
Update: The news stations are still scrambling to get biopics and the reviews of her life in place, but here’s a few that’s ready to give you a brief overview:
Bloomberg gives their take on how Margaret Thatcher has impacted history
Movie trailer for 2011’s The Iron Lady.
- Margaret Thatcher (wikipedia.org)
- Barack Obama: Margaret Thatcher Is True Friend Of America (The Guardian)
- Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female PM, dead at 87 (CNN)