Monday, 8 April 2013

She did some good. She did some bad. She was human.

Margaret Thatcher was a women who divided the country in terms of what they thought of her. To some, she was the hero of a new age for Britain, a modern one that went beyond the industrial past that was appearing dated. To others, she was the destroyer of communities, the woman who doomed large areas of Britain to obscurity and poverty. Either way, she will be remembered for the huge impact that she had on what it means to be British.

As the first Prime Minister to be a woman, she proudly wore the title of "the iron lady," and saw no reason to embrace compromise or cooperation in order to run the government. She knew what her principles were and was determined to stick to them, something that is extremely lacking in modern politics, and can she be respected for a lot of things she did. After all, her dedication to the free market was pioneering, and without her policies the City of London might not have become such a dominant financial centre.

Not only this, but we cannot ignore the fact that she defend the Falklands, ensuring that Britain was not afraid to look after those that it had a duty to protect. She knew that being British was something that was worth protecting, no matter what the opposition was. In fact, she welcomed opposition when it came to her politics, and knew that sometimes it was the government's job to be the bad guy, if it meant working for good of the country.

Yet, her legacy is tainted and always will be. Her death is a sad one, as all deaths are, but many can simply never get over what she did to them. The North of England, in its entirety, was caught in the cross fire of her war on the unions, which, however justifiable, ended up with a level of pettiness on either side that helped no one. The descendants for many more generations to come of those who worked in the mines, on the shipyards or on the factories, will look back on her leadership with a sense of bitterness.

After all, the industrial back bone of Britain, found in the northern towns that depended so much upon the places of work that they were proud to be part of, was destroyed in the 1980s. The communities were left with nothing, and have been struggling to claw back some sense of an economy ever since. She can never be loved in some areas of the country, areas where opportunity is now as rare as a four leaf clover.

In helping some she hindered others. In her strong stances many were caught in the cross fire, and the new Britain that was created was without its industrial roots, with its old and proud working class carefully marched to the bread line. She taught us how to be individuals, but in doing so failed to tell us how to remain as a collective. While she passionately strove to make Britain great, and to defend was it meant to be British, on too many occasions she forgot what being British was about.

She was no great saviour of Britain, and caused a lot of pain, but she did some good, and is not worthy of much of the criticisms leveled at her. Some will remember her fondly, and others not, but in the end she was just like any of us. She was just another human being.

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