Margaret Thatcher`s legacy is assured, 40 years on from her victory. Her stance as the “Iron Lady” in particular, at a time when the world seemed on a precipice. The seventies were a time when the West and East settled for a détente. Her epithet was meant as an insult but she viewed it as a compliment as she sought to liberate people from an oppressive value system.
Thatcher and Reagan were both ideologically opposed to socialism and maintained their hopes in Free Market Capitalism. When Thatcher took the reins of power she looked upon the left leaning social democratic governments in France and Germany with disdain.
She was elected due to the economic failures of democratic socialism. She had an uncompromising philosophy similar to Ayn Rand where individual liberty is paramount. This was evident in her seminal speech “There Is No Such Thing As Society”. Her belief in enterprise and creativity boosted the economy and helped to initiate the independent or “indie” music scene of the early 80s.
Reportedly she was disturbed by the nuclear disarmament policies of the opposition which was a hard Left Labour cabinet fronted by Michael Foot. Foot and his colleague Denis Healey sought to placate the Soviets and some suspected that Foot also retained a degree of sympathy for the regime. Thatcher knew that the Soviet Union posed a real threat to the West and so with her American ally she developed a base for nuclear weapons at Greenham Common. This base became a focal point for occupation and protest for peace lead by women and families
However Thatcher remained convinced that peace and order could be maintained through strength. This philosophy influenced her domestic policies in curbing the unions powers. In 1984 the Miners strike began and she was nonchalant in her imposition of a nationwide police force against the union leader and Soviet sympathiser Arthur Scargill.
That same year this incendiary atmosphere influenced the popular culture. It lead to the phenomenal record “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The record contained samples from the public information film “Protect and Survive”, a government campaign to inform people how to survive once a nuclear attack occurs. It was also visualized in the film “Threads”, a drama about a nuclear attack on Sheffield.
Eventually the Cold War ended through the bullish attitudes of Thatcher and her allies as in her mind Capitalism meant freedom as well as progress. Her tenacity throughout this period was remarkable even if you were opposed to her brand of politics. It quickly became obvious that the inhumane regimes across the East could not survive. She was vindicated when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.