“There are dangers in consensus: it could be an attempt to satisfy people holding no particular views about anything.…No great party can survive except on the basis of firm beliefs about what it wants to do.” — Oct. 10, 1968, Conservative Party conference.
So much for diplomacy.
Her legacy is still one being debated, but one thing is clear: Margaret Thatcher was no pushover. She had convictions and followed through on them, a “reminder that leadership can still shape events” according to Philip Stephens in FT.com.
To her enemies she was — as Denis Healey, chancellor of the Exchequer in Harold Wilson’s government, called her — “La Pasionaria of Privilege,” a woman who railed against the evils of poverty but who was callous and unsympathetic to the plight of the have-nots. Her policies, her opponents said, were cruel and shortsighted, widened the gap between rich and poor and worsened the plight of the poorest.
Mrs. Thatcher’s relentless hostility to the Soviet Union and her persistent call to modernize Britain’s nuclear forces fed fears of nuclear war and even worried moderates in her own party. It also caught the Kremlin’s attention. After she gave a hard-line speech in 1976, the Soviet press gave her a sobriquet of which she was proud: the Iron Lady.
What is her legacy? David Brooks makes the case that she was “a militant optimist for a country slipping unconsciously toward defeatism. Beyond her policy decisions, she was part of a values shift” who was mirrored by Blair and Clinton.
Bruce Bartlett observes how hard it is to shrink government–even under her strong leadership.
The rebel Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson, sees her as a true punk rocker who “loved a fight.” The angst-inspired Morrisey disagrees vociferously, as do many others (“The Day the Thatcher Hate Wouldn’t Die”), but he has already revealed his hand in song, as noted by NPR’s story on how pop music reflected the era.
And Paul Krugman marshalls GDP per capita comparison to make the case the Thatcher shouldn’t get the credit for the UK’s economic return.