Margaret Thatcher, an elemental force of great magnetism but also great negative consequences, has passed away. She enters history as an extraordinary politician and certainly one of the great figures on the Tory side of British politics. From my liberal social democratic leaning perspective much of what she did and stood for I strongly disagreed with. But having met Mrs. Thatcher during my student days in Britain when she was the Minister of Education in Ted Heath’s government, I can attest like so many others that she was a formidable figure of enormous energy and magnetism. Much of what she wrought in Britain led to higher unemployment and more poverty. She also beat the drum of British patriotism in repelling the invasion of the Falklands and in her relentless pursuit of promoting British industry. Her measures on the poll tax were unjust and helped lead to her downfall and replacement by a more moderate Tory, John Major. Her overall policy of rejecting Keynes, promoting Friedman and laissez-faire and deregulation has led Britain and much of the West to the disastrous financial meltdown of 2008.
She was a figure of great controversy, over the trade unions, Ireland, over monetary policy, over health care,over local government, over the the balance in the British post- war welfare state, over Britain’s complex relationship with Europe which continues to this day. On Europe she may well turn out to be more correct than not.
On the whole I disagreed with her, but like many other critics in Britain and abroad I admired her tenacity, her energy and her willingness to stick up for her principles and fight for what she believed in.
My condolences to her family , her friends and the millions of Britons who will mourn her passing.