- By Whitney Rutherford
- Published: April 23rd, 2013
As the prime minister of our greatest ally, Margaret Thatcher served as the political embodiment of toughness
When I was born in 1993, Margaret Thatcher’s tumultuous three terms as the first female British prime minister had concluded. Her death April 8 made me realize yet again that it was Thatcher’s example that taught me that being a stateswoman was a far more worthy occupation than being a Disney princess. Thatcher’s example taught me, and many others, what it means to capture and exceed your potential. She dared her contemporaries to challenge her contagious resolve and became an unshakable leader.
Thatcher was a steamroller of determination — not for worldly gain, but for progressive change that would empower others to be enthusiastic.
“What Thatcherism did do was to unleash a spirit of enterprise and to imbue the ambitious striver with a sense that government was on their side,” Melissa Kite said in the British news magazine, The Observer.
Thatcher was a stranger to handouts, claiming that the best way to get to the top was by hard work. She first became famous for being the youngest woman candidate in the country to run as the Conservative candidate for a strong Labour seat. Though Thatcher did not win the position early in her career, she spoke with conviction as she furthered her education, married and eventually won a seat as a member of Parliament.
While Thatcher is known for her fiery speeches and skillful judgement of human character, hundreds of handwritten letters mark the passion behind her drive. Her heart for people inspired her to fight each battle until she won.
“She demonstrated a pace-setting work ethic. Energy, I have come to realize, is the single greatest common factor of highly successful people,” Heather McGregor, director of British communications firm Taylor Bennett, said of Thatcher in The London Guardian.
Her daring and innovative nature encouraged women to strive beyond their social limitations and affirmed, for both genders, that hard work and a sense of purpose could render success.
Thatcher employed her energy when she stepped into her role as prime minister. At a time when her nation was awash in strikes and sliding into recession, Thatcher delivered exactly what she believed her beloved Britain needed: an iron lady.
Whether you agree with Thatcher’s economic and foreign policies or not, it is impossible to deny that she provided unyielding, principled leadership. Thatcher did not pretend that having integrity was popular or easy, but insisted in her speeches that it was the “highroad to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.” She preferred patience and debate to the “stench of appeasement.”
The Iron Lady’s approach gained her more enemies than friends, but her toughness is what will be remembered.
“To be transformative, being reasonable doesn’t get you very far. In government, it is unreasonableness that improves people’s lives,” Steve Hilton, leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, said in his tribute to Thatcher in The Spectator.
As Christians, as college students and young adults in an era of tolerance and acceptance, we would do well to emulate Thatcher’s stony insistence on what is right and important.
Thatcher’s death triggered a media storm of adulation and criticism. Many leapt to defend her, but I believe Thatcher would have been the first to laugh at the insults. After all, it was Thatcher who, during an interview on her 10th anniversary as prime minister, taught us, “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”