There was a scene from the movie “Iron Lady” which stood out for me. Alexander Haig the US Secretary of State had visited Mrs Thatcher and challenged her decision to go to war over Falklands. He suggested those islands were too remote for Britain to start a war over. Mrs T’s response showed the intelligence, urgency and alacrity of thoughts and action. She asked Haig was that why the US went to war in 1941, when Pearl Harbour was attacked. Hawaii was a remote part of the US, no?
I remember Falklands only for the fallout during the 1982 World Cup (or was it the 1986 competition?). It was when one Diego Maradona was introduced to the world stage. For me, it was the height of Bryan Robson era. Behind and above all that was the unmistakable ascendancy of Margaret Thatcher as the most powerful woman if not in the world, then certainly in Britain.
I remember reading about the coal miners’ strike and her determination to see out the long battles with the union. Then there were the privatisations. When finally jungle mike challenged her and she departed the scene, when John Majors wanted a “return to basics” era, it sounded and felt like a damp squib but everyone needed a breather from the drive and passion of Mrs T.
“He is someone we can do business with” or words to that effect, was how Mrs T described Mikhail Gorbachev and her role in engaging Gorbachev and the opening up of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe was another chapter. By the time Bill Clinton and then Tony Blair took centre stage, the world has become a very different place. Communism has lost its war, capitalism has gained unshakeable traction and a new prosperity was about to begin. Sure, there were costs but Mrs T and her friends – Gorbachev and Reagan – with their vision of liberal economy and liberated individuals have made it all possible.
Rest in peace, Baroness.
- Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female PM, dead at 87 (edition.cnn.com)
- How Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War (thetimes.co.uk)