Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013) was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office. She was popularly called the “IRON LADY”, a nickname that became associated with her hard-nosed politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism.
She was re-elected for a third term in 1987. During which her support for a Community charge (popularly referred to as “poll tax”) was widely unpopular and her views on the European Community were shared by others in her cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990, after Michael Heseltine launched a challenge to her leadership.
During her first months in office she attracted public attention as a result of the administration’s attempts to cut spending, she gave priority to academic needs in schools, imposed public expenditure cuts on the state education system, resulting in the abolition of free milk for schoolchildren aged seven to eleven, she held that few children would suffer if schools were charged for milk, but she agreed to provide younger children with a third of a pint daily, for nutritional purposes, her decision provoked a storm of protest from Labour (her opposing party) and the press leading to the moniker “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. She increased racial tension in Britain, treated Blacks like third class citizens, if citizens at all. She said the British people were being sawmped by alien cultures, little wonder Fela Kuti of Nigeria called her “The Beast of no nation”.
In April 1981, the Metropolitan Police began Operation Swamp 81, deploying police officers en masse to areas such as Brixton – a highly populated African Caribbean community. In Britain, she increased interest rates to slow the growth of the money supply and thereby lower inflation, she introduced cash limits on public spending, and reduced expenditure on social services such as education and housing. Her cuts in higher education spending resulted in her being the first Oxford-educated post-war Prime Minister not to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford, after a 738 to 319 vote of the governing assembly and a student petition. Her job approval rating fell to 23 per cent by December 1980, lower than recorded for any previous Prime Minister.
She was committed to reducing the power of the trade unions, whose leadership she accused of undermining parliamentary democracy and economic performance through strike action. Several unions launched strikes in response to legislation introduced to curb their power, but resistance eventually collapsed. Only 39% of union members voted for Labour in the 1983 general election.According to the BBC, Thatcher “managed to destroy the power of the trade unions for almost a generation”.
She refused to countenance a return to political status for the prisoners, declaring “Crime is crime is crime; it is not political”, but nevertheless the UK government privately contacted republican leaders in a bid to bring the hunger strikes to an end. After the deaths of Sands and nine others, some rights were restored to paramilitary prisoners, but not official recognition of their political status. Violence in Northern Ireland escalated significantly during the hunger strikes; in 1982 Sinn Fein politician Danny Morrison described her as “the biggest bastard we have ever known”.
She visited China to discuss with Deng Xiaoping on the sovereignty of Hong Kong after 1997, she sought the PRC’s agreement to a continued British presence in the territory. Deng stated clearly the PRC’s sovereignty on Hong Kong was non-negotiable, but he was willing to settle the sovereignty issue with Britain through formal negotiations, and both governments promised to maintain Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity
She was in favour of “peaceful negotiations” to end apartheid, standing imposed on South Africa by the Commonwealth and European Community. She attempted to preserve trade with South Africa while persuading the regime there to abandon apartheid. In April 1986, Thatcher permitted US F-111s to use Royal Air Force bases for the bombing of Libya in retaliation for the alleged Libyan bombing of Berlin discotheque.
She was her involved with southern Africa, with the independence and liberation movements of Zimbabwe and Namibia and the anti-apartheid movements of South Africa
In Fela’s words; the lyrics to Beasts of No Nation, first released in 1978:
Dem call the place, the “United Nations”
Hear-oh another animal talk
Wetin united inside “United Nations”?
Who & who unite, for “United Nations”?
No be there Thatcher & Argentina dey
No be there Reagan & Lib-i-ya dey
Is-i-rael versus Lebanon
Iran-i-oh versus Iraq-i
East West Block versus West Block East
No be there dem dey oh- United Nations
Dis “united” United Nations
One veto vote is equal to 92 […or more or more]
What kind sense be dat, na animal sense
A leader’s bad choices, would always oversee the good ones…