National Review's editors summed up her life:
Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P.
By The Editors
April 8, 2013 1:00 P.M. Margaret Thatcher, who died earlier today, was the greatest peacetime British prime minister of the 20th century, and her achievements in foreign policy were second only to those of Churchill.
In domestic policy, she reversed the decline of the previous 30 years and revived both the British economy and the British spirit. In foreign policy, she was instrumental to the free world’s victory in the Cold War — a victory achieved “without firing a shot,” as she herself phrased it.
She was steadfast and vocal in her support of the NATO policy of installing cruise and Pershing missiles in Western Europe. The success of that policy, against the strong pressures for appeasement of the Soviets that came from both the “peace movement” and most parties of the European Left, marked the point at which the USSR lost the Cold War. But she improved on that success by identifying Mikhail Gorbachev as “a man we could do business with” and warmly recommending him to Reagan as such. Her early championship of the Soviet leader was one reason why the Cold War ended peacefully and on almost friendly terms.
Her domestic achievements are many, but they include: bringing inflation under control and establishing sound money; bringing the unions under law and so dispelling the idea that Britain had become “ungovernable”; defeating the miners’ strike and so entrenching her reforms; reviving the enterprise culture that Britain had pioneered but lost; starting what became the worldwide revolution of privatization; and so on, and so on. We can sum up these domestic battles by pointing out that ten years after the strike-ridden “winter of discontent” — after therefore ten years of Thatcherism — Britain’s economy had become the fourth-largest in the world.
One might add winning the Falklands War almost as a codicil, because that was a foreign-policy achievement that helped her win many of her domestic battles.
These achievements made Mrs. Thatcher — we prefer to call her by the name she was known by in the days of her glory — a great statesman in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of most of her countrymen. But she made enemies who remain bitter to this day, as some comments on her death from the Left miserably illustrate. In that respect, she resembles less Ronald Reagan than Franklin Roosevelt.
Statesmen whose achievements are won at heavy cost and against strong opposition are seldom revered universally in their lives. It takes time and — sadly — death for bitterness to be overcome and for the full value of their lives to be realized and appreciated. We believe that Mrs. Thatcher’s reputation will shortly enjoy that ascension in her native land. In the meantime, her shade must be content with the praise that is rising from the formerly Communist nations in which she remains a heroic and loved figure — and from the United States, which was second only to Britain in her estimate and affection.
To sum such a remarkable life is not easy. We cannot improve upon the attempt by Lord Saatchi, head of the think tank she founded and the shaper of her victorious election message in 1979:
Everyone wants to be immortal. Few are. Mrs. Thatcher is. Why?
Because her values are timeless, eternal. Tap anyone on the shoulder anywhere in the world, and ask what Mrs Thatcher “believed in,” and they will tell you. They can give a clear answer to what she “stood for.”
She developed all the winning arguments of our time — free markets, low tax, a small state, independence, individuality, self-determination.
And Mark Steyn's comments are worth reading:
The one and only.
By Mark Steyn
April 8, 2013 9:37 A.M. Mrs. Thatcher’s predecessor as prime minister, the amiable but forgotten Sunny Jim Callaghan, once confided to a friend of mine that he thought Britain’s decline was irreversible and that the government’s job was to manage it as gracefully as possible. By 1979, even this modest aim seemed beyond the capabilities of the British establishment, and the nation turned to a woman who was one of the few even in a supposedly “conservative” party not to subscribe to the Callaghan thesis. She reversed the decline, at home and overseas. The Falklands War, inconsequential in and of itself, had a huge global significance: After Vietnam, the fall of the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, and Soviet annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Grenada, the British routing of the Argentine junta stunned everyone from the politburo in Moscow to their nickel ’n’ dime clients in the presidential palaces, all of whom had figured the “free world” no longer had any fight in it.
As for the domestic front, on the silver jubilee of her premiership, I wrote an assessment in the Telegraph:
Just after the Fall of Thatcher, I was in the pub enjoying a drink with her daughter Carol after a little light radio work. A fellow patron, a “radical” “poet”, decided to have a go at her in loco parentis, which is Latin for “in the absence of her loco parent”. After reciting a long catalogue of Mrs Thatcher’s various crimes, he leant into Carol, nose to nose, and summed it all up: “Basically, your mum just totally smashed the working classes.”
Carol was a jolly good sport about it, as always. And it has to be said that this terrible indictment loses a lot of its force when you replace “Vatcher” — a word the snarling tribunes of the masses could effortlessly spit down the length of the bar — with “your mum”.
On the other hand, he had a point: basically, her mum did just totally smash the working classes.
That’s to say, she understood that the biggest threat to any viable future for Britain was a unionized public sector that had awarded itself a lifestyle it wasn’t willing to earn. So she picked a fight with it, and made sure she won. In the pre-Thatcher era, union leaders were household names, mainly because they were responsible for everything your household lacked. Britain’s system of government was summed up in the unlovely phrase “beer and sandwiches at Number Ten” — which meant union grandees showing up at Downing Street to discuss what it would take to persuade them not to go on strike, and being plied with the aforementioned refreshments by a prime minister reduced to the proprietor of a seedy pub, with the Cabinet as his barmaids.
In 1990, when Mrs. Thatcher was evicted from office by her ingrate party’s act of matricide, the difference she’d made was such that in all the political panel discussions on TV that evening no producer thought to invite any union leaders. No one knew their names anymore.
That’s the difference between a real Terminator, and a poseur like Schwarzenegger.
As to the force of her personality, at the Commonwealth Conference in (I think) Vancouver a couple of decades ago, they had a “dress-down Friday” thing for the final day: the chaps from Oz, Canada, Belize, Papua New Guinea, and whatnot showed up in slacks and open-necked shirts, and then Mrs Thatcher came downstairs dressed in the usual big blue power suit with the Eighties shoulder pads. I think it was Bob Hawke, the Aussie PM, who observed, “Forty-nine blokes in the right dress code, and one woman who isn’t. And she made us feel like the ones who’d got it wrong.”
The term “rest in peace” doesn’t seem quite right for Margaret Thatcher. I hope upstairs they’re getting out an extra large tumbler, and readying for some vigorous debate into the small hours.
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