Meeting Margaret Thatcher

by Anita on April 8, 2013

Posted by Anita Folsom

“Margaret Thatcher’s political career has been one of the most remarkable of modern times. Born in October 1925 at Grantham, a small market town in eastern England, she rose to become the first (and for two decades the only) woman to lead a major Western democracy. She won three successive General Elections and served as British Prime Minister for more than eleven years (1979-90), a record unmatched in the twentieth century.” (Excerpt from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation)

In 2010, Burt and I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Thatcher. To say that we were looking forward to the meeting would be a great understatement.

We had just concluded a wonderful cruise sponsored by Young America’s Foundation (YAF). Burt and I were a part of the lecture faculty during the cruise, which had visited the Normandy beaches on the anniversary of D-Day, as well as other ports in France, Portugal, and Spain.

As the climax of the trip, YAF put together a reception and dinner on The Strand in London, and Lady Thatcher was just well enough after a recent stroke to say a few words at the reception and greet each guest personally.

She was in her 80s then, but still looked every inch the grande dame of British politics. She was so warm and personable. When I shook her hand, I thanked her for being such a friend to Hillsdale College, and she nodded with a smile. Her statue is a part of our campus where students see it every day.

Then Burt stepped up behind me, and he was introduced. Without missing a beat, Burt said, “Lady Thatcher, thank you so much for reducing the tax rates in Britain while you served as Prime Minister!”

Burt specifically quoted various tax rates that were slashed under her leadership. Among other accomplishments, Thatcher’s government reduced the top rate — a whopping 98% on the highest incomes — to a level that encouraged economic recovery. Her determination to reduce tax rates, thereby freeing up the British economy, was indeed the accomplishment that we admired most of all.

Lady Thatcher beamed. She was obviously delighted that Burt knew so much about her administration.

Back in 1979, when she took office, she had encouraged her staff to read Frederic Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in order to understand what government policies would help most to bring back Britain’s greatness. The 1970s had been a decade of decline for Britons. Thatcher was determined to change that.

This statement from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation says it best:

“During her term of office she reshaped almost every aspect of British politics, reviving the economy, reforming outdated institutions, and reinvigorating the nation’s foreign policy. She challenged and did much to overturn the psychology of decline which had become rooted in Britain since the Second World War, pursuing national recovery with striking energy and determination.”

Thatcher also developed a warm friendship with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Thatcher’s leadership revived Britain, just as Reagan’s policies revived the U.S.

May they both R.I.P.

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