The Baroness is the second in the great conservative triumvirate of the 80s to go. She had been preceded by Reagan in 2004, and is survived by Helmut Kohl (now 83). Together, they represented the peak of conservative politics in the “free world," ushering in a new era of supply-side economics, which surprisingly did very little to stimulate American or European economies during their reigns, yet undermined the social welfare state in all three countries. The
saw its worst “misery index” three years into Reagan’s first term with
unemployment peaking at 10.3% in 1983.
Thatcherism resulted in 11.3% unemployment in the US a year later
(half way through her tenure) with staggering interest rates and a sharp fall
in production to boot. Unemployment in Germany peaked at 9.4% the same year. Yet, each is remembered as a champion of the unbridled
free market and great prosperity. UK
It was refreshing to see The Guardian present Thatcherism by the numbers, when most other news outlets have been heaping praise on Thatcher right and left. She is now fondly remembered as the “Iron Lady,” a term coined by the Soviet press, which she wore like a proud moniker. Yet, her only real battle was over the
Falkland Islands, when British naval
forces repelled an Argentine fleet bent on retaking the remote colonial outcrop. Hardly the stuff of legend, much like Reagan’s
great battle in . The media lost interest pretty quickly. Instead, She and Ronnie are remembered for
bringing an end to the Cold War by embracing Gorbacev as an agent of change in
the Grenada Soviet Union.
The fact of the matter is that they didn’t even see the end coming. They did their best to prop up Gorbacev’s failing regime, while protests rocked
leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Of course, Thatcher, Reagan and Kohl all took credit for it, claiming
their bellicose words precipitated the fall.
Rather, it was movements like Solidarity in that were the real agents of
change. Thatcher was quick to dump Gorby
in favor of Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, who became the new faces of the
East. Lonely Mikhail was left to grapple
with a disintegrating Poland Soviet Union that crumbled
apart two years later.
History has a way of becoming a fog. We remember Margaret Thatcher more for her indomitable personality than her deeds, much the same way Ronald Reagan and to a lesser extent Helmut Kohl are remembered. Of course, it doesn’t hurt having Meryl Streep give old Maggie a kinder, gentler face in a recent biopic. This is how most persons would like to remember her, even the good folks of BBC, which have been running tributes continually since her death at 87.