Margaret Thatcher

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My son asked me today “Mum, what was it like growing up in the 80’s?”. A timely question, especially as just a few minutes later the news broke that Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during that time, had died.

I tried to answer him honestly – living with daily news accounts of IRA bombings here on the mainland and the violence in Northern Ireland, the miner’s strike that ultimately led to massive pit closures, massive unemployment, the Falklands War, privatisation of our national companies and services, the dodgy fashions (shoulder pads and power dressing, luminous socks, ankle warmers and ra-ra skirts), the music, the first instances of rogue traders and so on.

I told him about the violence – the riots, the IRA, the Falklands, the strikes – and I told him how tough it was for ordinary working families, and how Margaret Thatcher was a key figure in all of it.

I didn’t particularly like or dislike Margaret Thatcher, but I can admire her for her forthrightness, her strength, her determination and her attitude that being a woman didn’t stop her doing the job she loved doing. She really was in service to our country. Whatever she did it was with our best interests at heart – and polarised opinion as to what that meant – and it was not for her own personal gain unlike some subsequent “leaders”. She stood for what she believed in and she believed in what she stood for.

I am not a Tory, not by a long shot, but even I can see there was some sense behind some of the things that she did. Take for example the decision she took in the late 1970’s when she was Education Minister to remove free milk from school children. It earned her the nickname “Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher” but why did she do it? It had long been established that there was a link between poor nutrition and poor educational results and in 1946 a law was passed that entitled all children under the age of 18 to receive a third of a pint of milk each day in schools in order to boost their nutritional intake. However, it proved expensive to run and in 1968, the law was changed so that secondary school aged children didn’t receive it any more. That was by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, yet only a few years later when Margaret Thatcher removed free milk for 7 to 11 year olds, she was branded as a monster. I’m not sticking up for her, but I can’t be doing with the unfairness of it all.

You don’t have to agree with her politics to admire her strength and determination not to be swayed from her duty and her service.  For example, the IRA bomb at the Brighton hotel the night before she was due to deliver her keynote speech in 1984. Not many modern politicians could survive a bomb attack on their life and then carry on the day afterwards with barely a shiver like Thatcher did then.

As I say, I didn’t particularly like or dislike her but I do feel desperately sorry that in recent years her health has been failing – physically and mentally – and she has died homeless, frail and without family or friends round her. However great and powerful she once was she did not deserve to die a lonely death as she did today.

Margaret Thatcher will go down in history for many reasons (and will be written about by people better able to than I can) and it will be a long time until we see another like her. Some would say that is a good thing; I say there is always two sides to everything and I wouldn’t trade her life with mine for anything.

Rest in peace Mrs T.


9 thoughts on “Margaret Thatcher”

  1. Nice balanced piece, especially about the milk – this twisting of history has always bugged me. I think she suffered most from the characterization that was rife in the 90’s. I’m not a fan either but I do admire her progress as one of the few significant women of power who made a difference. It’s easy to look back and find fault. When you consider where she came from as a young politician, as a woman and as a shop keepers daughter, you have to have some admiration for her. She held her own with world leaders .. coming from a grocers shop!


    1. Thanks Dave, there is so much to say about her but I’d rather leave that to better qualified than myself to say it. I just wanted to give my two pennorth about her human side. Some would say she didn’t have one I suppose, but I had to try!!


      1. some of the comments I’ve seen on facebook have been bad. You should have respect for the dead.


  2. I’m not a fan either, and you are right she did polarise opinions of her. But I think it is distasteful a lot of the comments that you can come across on the likes of Facebook, etc. Whatever the political or religious differences we all have, I don’t think it is right to celebrate the death of anybody. We all leave behind people who grieve. Strip away her title and status, she was a Mother and a Grandmother.


    1. Thanks for your comment Andy. I agree with you that celebrating someone’s – anyone’s – death is distasteful. Someone has definitely fed the trolls on Facebook today!!


  3. I agree that your writing is very balanced and I like this. It seems to me only the poorer people suffered under her rule. In this world apparently it is very difficult to be just to rich and poor alike. And people who come from a rather poor background, like Thatcher did, have it probably even more difficult to be respected by the more wealthy people unless the wealthy people see that they are being looked after in preference over the downtrodden ones.

    You say: ” . . . . in recent years her health has been failing – physically and mentally – and she has died homeless, frail and without family or friends round her.”

    Failing health, this can happen to anyone especially in old age. And of course it is always to be regretted if someone’s health fails. What I don’t understand at all is how can she have become homeless?

    I don’t know whether her family did take care of her in any way. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a caring family in old age. But my goodness, she has been very popular with a great many people all over Britain during her lifetime and many praise her now after her passing. It puzzles me how a person like this could have died without any friends being near her?

    Did she in old age maybe regret some things she did to the not so well to do? She did this at the height of her productive life because she thought she had to be tough and being tough was the only way to make Britain prosper again.

    As you say, there’s always two sides to everything. I think the poor can only prosper by working hard. But at the same time the rich ought to let them hold onto the fruit of their labour rather than wanting always greater shares for themselves!


    1. Thank you for your comments Uta, you raise some great debate points! I think there was a genuine reason behind her toughness and you touched on it when you said that she worked her way up from a less than privileged background. As to why she ended up as she did I can only guess. Maybe her drive for “self” (as I’ve written about today) caused her children to drive themselves so hard they drove away from her? I don’t know. I don’t know why she was in a hotel and not a home either. Maybe there were other things going on that we will never know about, but whatever the circumstances, I find it sad that she was as she was at the end. I think the loss of her husband 11 years ago had a massive impact on her and she has been in a steady decline ever since then. She will certainly go down in history as a force to be reckoned with!


I'd love to hear your view, please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.