The woman who changed the world has passed away

I learned this afternoon with considerable sadness of the passing of Baroness Thatcher.

I cannot say I knew her — I was 19 when she ceased to be Prime Minister — but I grew up with the transformation she delivered in our country and across the world. It was only after a year in Parliament that I began to realise against what odds and opposition she had suceeded. I was grateful to meet her once after my election.

The Economist has published an obituary, The lady who changed the world:

ONLY a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one. She transformed not just her own Conservative Party, but the whole of British politics. Her enthusiasm for privatisation launched a global revolution and her willingness to stand up to tyranny helped to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill won a war, but he never created an “ism”.

I recommend the entire article, which concludes, “What the world needs now is more Thatcherism, not less.”  No doubt that is correct although today our problems are more subtle. When the state owned so much of the means of the production, the way forward could at least be clearly understood, even as it was contested.

And it is that contest for which Margaret Thatcher should be remembered. She demonstrated a superhuman degree of resilience, tenacity and courage, not least because she was our first female Prime Minister in an earlier and less condusive age.

I do not doubt we have lost our greatest peacetime leader.

This article was previously published at SteveBaker.info.

12 Comments

  • Goodness, Mr Baker, what do you hope to gain by heaping such praise on a dead person whose legacy is so ambivalent? I don’t need to tell you that her early failed economic policies became, led directly to the blowing of the biggest bubble in history, the consequences of which will be be much worse than ‘sustained grow

    Your adulation dwells also on her personal qualities, which I am not in a position to judge. However your intentions in writing are very unclear when you praise her in such unrelated realms.

  • mrg says:

    I agree with Mr Baker that for all her faults (of which I have no doubt he’s aware), Thatcher was our greatest peacetime leader.

  • Natalie Drest says:

    “When the state owned so much of the means of the production, the way forward could at least be clearly understood, even as it was contested.”

    What the state owns now is a bit more subtle, but still very similar… It owns all the profit that people generate and then attempts to spend it on their behalf. It graciously allows some people to keep some of it, but the rest it spends on things that nobody wants or needs, in order to puff some useless politician’s fat head.

    Margaret Thatcher was the greatest PM this country has had, but her one failure was that she did not go after the civil service quickly enough, she ran out of time. The EU is simply and extension of the civil service, and she started to wake up to the danger shortly before she was ousted…

    …If only she had not wasted all that time with the poll tax (it was never a “community charge”), the last three or four years could have made huge inroads into the sclerosis (civil service) that swiftly returned this nation to its knees under John Major, Tony Blair and the Brown Terror.

    • You took the words right out of my keyboard. I am a little surprised Steve Baker could even right that eulogy in those terms. Margaret Thatcher did espouse Hayek but even he would have considered her a socialist (and he was considered a socialist by Mises:).
      No sound currency, expanding the government by 12%, increasing taxation, destroying the productive base and starting the crisis we are still in?

      If you deregulate the cartelised quasi-private banking system and then dont deregulate the rest of the economy from Government Controls, ONE must fear the competition from the working and middle class, who are natural partners, who must be set against each other.
      Margaret Thatcher opened the cages of lions and hyenas whilst we were still in chains – that is the hallmark of a Corporatists not a Free Market Libertarian.

      • mrg says:

        It’s telling, though, that most people criticise Thatcher for the wrong reasons.

        As with Reagan, the reality didn’t live up to the rhetoric. But what good rhetoric it was.

        And I think it’s easy to underestimate now quite what a bad state the country was in:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Day_Week

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_Discontent

        Thatcher faced tremendous resistance from her own party as well as the opposition. It’s amazing she achieved as much as she did.

        Interesting to speculate where we’d be if Thatcher hadn’t won the Conservative leadership.

        • Tim Lucas says:

          We can always wish she had done more but she had the right instincts, and real backbone as pointed out here.

          Regarding her failuers, I lament the neutering of local councils. While done with the best of intentions, in response to their overspending, centralising their power at a national level was a wrong turn in my view.

  • Captain Skin says:

    She was a politician (albeit one of the more free market ones).

    Don’t shed too many tears over these manipulators, crooks and thieves, who play their political games with other people’s money…

  • Gary says:

    Thatcher was not against the welfare state. She started the disability allowance and funded that and the demise of the coal mines with the oil windfall. North Sea Oil was her lucky saviour. With the City’s Big Bang she started the shift from industry into financial engineering. The UK was rebuilt on 2 legs, Oil and financial engineering, at the cost of manufacturing. The oil is now dwindling and the Financial Engineering is bust. The disability welfare cost is a real fiscal problem. Structurally, Britain is now in a worse position than the 70’s , we just have not reached the 3-day week and the arms of the IMF. Yet.

  • Peter says:

    I did not know Thatcher personally, but I cannot say that I share your enthusiasm for her leadership.

    Like Reagan, she always talked a good game, and it is true that she carried out a number of necessary reforms in the early 1980s, but the hallmarks of her governments were always authoritarianism and corporatism.

    This, I suspect, is a major reason why the seeds of Blair’s soft totalitarianism found such fertile ground after 1997.

    • Agreed. I have come to the only logical conclusion, that unions were ‘permitted’ to get out of hand in order to facilitate de-industrialisation thus allowing huge financial institutions, based on credit out of thin air, to become the major staple of the economy and therefore give itself a fair degree of protection from anyone who thought they should be exposed to open competition or bankruptcy. This cycle has repeated throughout history.
      Margaret Thatcher may have been too slow with this expansion and was therefore ousted. We have to remember she was a Monetarist, who are really modified keynesians, not Austrian School, so we can easily foretell the ensuing bubbles and busts.

      • John says:

        Wow, Andrew – that’s a crazy conspiracy theory!

        • The nature of a conspiracy is that it has to be illegal and as we have seen by financial fraud and private debts foisted onto tax payers and not so much as a jail term for any banker involved – it clearly is legal. I like evidence not theory.

          It is also unfortunate that most people cannot think 5, 10, 20 or even 50 years + ahead as our financial establishment can and do. If you look at the scams and bank runs that robbed savers and wore the people down into establishing various Central Banks in the USA from the 1700’s onwards you may reconsider your comment.

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