Margaret Thatcher, the shopkeeper’s daughter who led the British government, died today at the age of 87. She was the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the 20th Century and the only woman to have held the post.
Her confidence and certitude about her policies led a Soviet journalist to call her the Iron Lady, a nickname that described her leadership style. Steven Rattner, a pundit and economic analyst, said this morning on MSNBC, “I wish I was as certain of anything as she was of everything. “
Thatcher broke through the British class and gender barrier and is credited with turning the UK from a Socialist country to a center right economy. Rattner said, “[After World War II] Britain was almost a socialist country. Her timing was great. She had the support in parliament. She put through reforms and it worked. She took over a dead country, when there were strikes all the times. She turned Britain into a modern country.”
Thatcher introduced a series of political and economic initiatives to reverse what she perceived to be Britain's precipitous national decline. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions.
Thatcher's popularity during her first years in office waned amid recession and high unemployment, until economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support, resulting in her re-election in 1983.
(Biographical information courtesy of Wikipedia.)