Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Iron Lady

Page_303In the long run, we’re all dead. After decades of ridiculing Keynesian policies and causing Keynes to turn in his grave on a daily basis, he would’ve been somewhat gratified to see Margaret Thatcher comply with his words for a change. Mind you though, had she been granted a say in the matter, she probably wouldn’t have done this, either. Such was the brash authority of the Iron Lady.

You will be hard-pressed to find another figure in recent times who divides opinion quite as much as Margaret Thatcher. Often dubbed as the First Lady of The Free World in some quarters, she is no sooner vilified as the Witch of Britain who fed on the poor to sell off the country to opportunists. Indeed, the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” in celebration of her demise reached number two in the UK top charts just a week after her passing, even as tributes were pouring in from all corners of the world.

Page_304To understand this phenomenon we must look back to when Thatcher was first elected into office. It was 1979 and things weren’t exactly coming along swimmingly for England. The fateful term of James ‘What Crisis?’ Callaghan had just drawn to a close and Britain had just gone through its Winter of Discontent. It might evoke images of Game of Thrones and the White Walkers but if you replace the Walkers with mile-deep piles of rubbish and dead bodies stored in warehouses, you’d get a more fitting picture. Inflation was sky-rocketing and trade unions were hounding the government into increasing pay. So when Thatcher took to the office, she was expected to cave in to demands and carry on the Keynesian trend governments had passed down in the past. But she didn’t. She did the exact opposite, by raising taxes, cutting spending and showing Keynes and his army of fanboys the proverbial finger. It immediately made things worse around the country and she soon became a hated figure in industrial Britain, her pictures adorning many a dartboard in pubs around the country. She struck down trade unions and called them a threat to democracy, carrying on her personal vendetta against Socialism.

It caused several communities to disintegrate beyond repair and widespread poverty ensued. It destroyed livelihoods as the fat-cat capitalists took the country by the Crown Jewels. Even in the face of such intense scenes, she remained unwavering, saying, ‘There’s no such thing as society. Only individuals.” Thatcher placed hard work and endeavor above all, and dreamed of shedding Britain’s tag of the ‘Old Man of Europe’ with swashbuckling capitalism and widespread privatisation. It was this unsympathetic aura that earned her the nickname of ‘Iron Lady’. But history will say that she was elected twice more, because people saw her changes taking effect. The slump had stopped and the country was stuttering back into pace. She will be remembered, too, for her role in the Falklands War and her political liaison with Ronald Reagan.

But darker pages of history will remember her as the megalomaniac intent on stamping on the lower class, the Prime Minister who hushed up the Hillsborough disaster, where 96 football fans lost their lives, so as not to undermine her regime. Whatever the reason, she will be remembered for a long time to come and that’s something that can be hardly said for politicians in our country, and that too without the inevitable head of corruption rousing itself. She was the epitome of willpower and will go down as a person who loved her country, whatever her faults.