Our View: Lady Margaret Thatcher transformed our world

DKS Editors

The following editorial appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Tuesday, April 9:

If ever there was a transformational leader, it was Lady Margaret Thatcher.

The only female prime minister of Great Britain died Monday after a stroke at the age of 87. In slightly less than 12 years at 10 Downing Street, Thatcher took a nation on the verge of collapse and international irrelevance and restored its place on the world stage.

Thatcher was a force. Early on, she used a stare-down with Argentina over a little-known territory called the Falkland Islands to re-establish the image of British military muscle. The Russian media nicknamed her the “Iron Lady,” and it stuck.

Her belief in market-based solutions was anathema to Great Britain’s leaders until she became prime minister in 1979. But like Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thatcher was a world leader who believed in herself. Great Britain was becoming a welfare state collapsing under its own weight.

Thatcher took radical steps to transform it, changing the tax structure and privatizing state-run industries such as Rolls-Royce, British Airways and all sorts of manufacturers and utilities. She raised a fundamental question that still resonates: At what point do government promises overtax an economy, destroy initiative and create unsustainable debt?

She was a kindred spirit and close friend to President Ronald Reagan. The British press characterized her fondness as a schoolgirl crush. Ah, the days before political correctness held sway.

So transformational was Thatcher that Tony Blair would later adopt many of her policies as he reformed the Labour Party. And many historians say it was Thatcher’s early gut-level conclusion that the West could “do business with” Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that transformed U.S.-Soviet relations.

Lady Margaret Thatcher transformed our world. Few earn that simple epitaph.