Margaret Thatcher Essay

Most people say that you either loved or hated Margaret Thatcher. But the truth is that you could feel both ways about her, often at the same time. Margaret Thatcher was a stateswoman in the fullest sense of the word. She ended socialism in Britain and revived the British economy. She even won the Falklands war and radically changed British society. Some would even say that she created the world we live in today. Has the legacy of Margaret Thatcher any influence on British society today? How important was the “Iron Lady” to Britain?

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The British inflation was in 1975 up at 24, 11% [1] and with the union’s constant claim for higher salaries, nobody expected it to drop to a normal level. In 1976 it still did not help and in the same year they had to take a loan in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [2] . When Margaret Thatcher won the general election in 1979, she became Prime Minister of a land in chaos. The British top tax rate was 83% and on unearned income the rate was 98% [3] and the bottom rate was 65%. The first thing Margaret Thatcher needed to deal with as a Prime Minister was the inflation and tax rates. She lay out a political program that should prevent a raise in salaries and in public spending. It did not matter whether you were rich or poor; you were paying most of your money in taxes. When Margaret Thatcher left the office in 1990, the top rate was now only 40% [4] . Margaret Thatcher fought for minimizing the tax rates and allowed business to boom in Britain.

Margaret Thatcher believed in free competition and a reducing of the government power. She radically changed British society. Margaret Thatcher’s policies of free enterprise, privatization helped modernize Great Britain’s economy. Her policies of home ownership, share ownership and less government led to a rise in home-ownership rates [5] . Margaret Thatcher privatised many national owned industries through the 1980’s. A reduction of the public sector would produce more free competition and through that a more market-orientated economy. Her belief was that the private sector was more effective because many of the nationalised industries were sold to the private sector. Therefore the profitable range was higher than government owned industries. But the Thatcher government did also raised money by selling state owned companies like the British airways, British telecom and Rolls Royce.

Because of Thatcher’s influency on inflation, theA small state, andA free marketsA throughA tight control of the money supply andA privatisation it would now be callen Thatcherism. Thatcherism is characterised by the philosophy of a smaller role for the government and creating a free-market economy. The state should not interfere in the regulation of prises or salaries, but only make sure that the competition stayed fair for all of its participants. Beside this, Thatcherism also implied privatisation of state owned industries, like British airways, low taxation and a monetarist economic policy as an attempt to control the inflation [6] .

In 1982 Margaret Thatcher won the Falklands War. At a time where the kingdom was divided and the support of the government was almost non-existing. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982 and Margaret Thatcher shipped a large elements of the Royal Navy down to retake those islands again. Britain won the Falklands War and it was Britain’s first military victory since World War II in 1945. For Britain and Thatcher the victory provided a boost of confident. The victory made Britain feel proud and strong about their country. Britain’s international position became stronger. Thatcher regained her popularity with the voters who were thrilled by the outcome of the war and in 1983 the Thatcher conservative government was re-elected [7] .

In 1985 things started to work for the government and for Margaret Thatcher’s old reforms. There was an economic growth and the number of unemployed was falling [8] . Especially the economy grew fast. It reached 4-5% a year. The inflation increased to 10% but decreased again in 1990. This led to the third victory in the 1987 general election. Margaret Thatcher won convincingly but had lost many votes to Labour.

In November 1990, Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister. She had lost the strong hold in the public and in the party. Leading co-workers assumed that her strong opinion against further political integration in Europe and her lack of ability to listen to others, in the end was the reason she lost when her position as the leader of the conservative where challenged by John Major who served the post until the election of Tony Blair’s Labour Government in May 1997.

Margaret Thatcher has not only changed the Conservative Party, but also the entire British society. Thatcher solved certain big problems as, high inflation, high tax rates, low manufacturing productivity and high unemployment. Britain has maintained a strong nation with a strong defence because of the victory of the Falklands War. Thatcher had the passion and she deeply believed that she could make a change in the Conservative Party and therefore she did. Thatcher is important because of her time during the 80s which affect the British society today. The political parties in Britain are forced to adapt her legacy. Thatcher stopped socialism in Britain and now the Labour has had to change into the New Labour, which is something they hate her for. Britain now lives by her political trademarks. Loved or loathed, Thatcher’s personal accomplishments will remain part of world history. Her legacy will live on and the importance of her hard work during her time as Prime Minister will never be forgotten.