The grocer’s daughter from Grantham, who lived above the shop yet aspired to great things, has passed away. But she will never be forgotten.
Margaret Thatcher, who was made a baroness for her services to her country by the Queen, was the greatest peacetime Prime Minister of the 20th century. She was also the most powerful woman in the world during her reign at Number 10.
And what a reign it was. When she became Prime Minister, Britain was at its lowest ebb, on the edge of a precipice, and in economic ruins. Certainly no longer considered a world power.
She managed, through extraordinary intelligence, foresight, logic, brilliance, force of personality and self-belief to bring it back from the edge, and to safety and success. Such enormous success that she was adored by her admirers, hated by those who didn't “get it,” and because they were envious and jealous of her amazing triumphs and popularity.
She herself rose above all that nonsense, as she called it, and never lost sight of her goal: saving her beloved country and its everyday average people from disaster, bringing the land back to a prosperity it had not known for many years. She was able to do this because she had a true understanding of economics, the tyrannical unions and their domination, inefficient nationalized industries, and city councils. Blessed with a quantity of female practicality and common sense, she put that to good use. Most of all, she was a true visionary, saw the future and what Britain could become. Patriotic, humane, and compassionate, she came from the Middle Class and so understood the Middle Class, all of their problems, dreams, desires and needs.
Eventually she made London the financial capital of the world because of the Big Bang. This was the name given to her deregulation of the City in 1986.
She fought the idea of abandoning the pound sterling for the Euro, and won. How right she was, and we should be grateful to her for that foresight and her dogged insistence. She also fought the idea of a federal European State, and did not want Britain to become a member of the union. But nobody listened. Sadly.
Maggie, as the populace loved to call her, brought Britain back to center stage. We loved her for it, and so did the rest of the world. She was a star… today they would call her a ROCK STAR! I rather think she was exactly that.
Let’s not forget her closeness to President Ronald Reagan. She helped him to end the Cold War and bring down the Berlin Wall; and fought a war to keep the Falklands British and free of Argentinian control.
It was a Russian journalist who called her “The Iron Lady,” a title she rather enjoyed. And in a way, I think she was tough, but in an elegant way. She was one of the most feminine women I have ever met. She loved clothes, shoes handbags and jewelry. I’ve always admired her for that, and for owning up to it. Power in a lovely dress… A Woman Of Substance indeed.
She became Prime Minister in 1979, which was when my now-famous novel was published. We met through Irwin Bellow, who was chairman of Leeds City Council in charge of housing. He was brought in by Mrs. Thatcher to advise her about the selling of council houses to their tenants, not only in Leeds, but throughout the country. It was because of his help that she was eventually able to bring in a bill in Parliament enabling this to finally happen. He was her right-hand man in her endeavors, and she elevated him to the peerage for his hard work. He became Lord Bellwin.
It was Irwin who arranged for Bob and I to go out to our first event at Number 10. It was an evening cocktail party given by Mrs. Thatcher for those in the Arts. Bob and I were thrilled to attend. I recall being at the end of a long reception room, talking to a small group of people, when I noticed I was facing an open door. I stepped to one side, and caught a glimpse of an oil painting of my great hero, Winston Churchill. Edging away from the group, I went and peeped around the door. This opened onto a small landing, and hanging over a downward-spiraling staircase was that huge portrait of the great man.
Naturally, it was too tempting to resist. I stepped onto the landing, and went to get a better look at the portrait. A moment later I heard that inimitable voice, asking cordially, “Are you all right, Mrs. Bradford?”
I swung around to face Margaret Thatcher. “I am, thank you, Prime Minister,” I said. “I was just standing here, thinking that as a little girl growing up I could never have imagined that one day I would come to Number 10 and stand here looking at the portrait of Winston Churchill.”
“I know what you mean, Mrs. Bradford, neither did I,” she answered me with a twinkle in her eyes. As we walked back into the reception, she told me how much she had enjoyed my book, and I congratulated her on being the first woman to become Prime Minister.
Like Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher saved Britain in the postwar years, just as Churchill had saved the country in the Second World War, not to mention the Western Civilization as well.
Sir Winston had a State Funeral, and so should she. She certainly deserves it and should be honored in this way.
What do you think? Please share your memories and comments with me.