Margaret Thatcher’s legacy inspires students into political debate

– Melike Berker contributed to this report

Baroness Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, April 8th, 2013 at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. Her family say that she died peacefully and are allowing a grieving period before releasing further information on the ex Prime Minister’s death.

Margaret Thatcher was nicknamed "Iron Lady" for her strong will. Photo: Matthew Rutledge (via Flickr)

No matter what was thought of her policies, morals and personality, the country has suffered a great loss. Thatcher was a shop keeper’s daughter from Grantham, she showed that anyone can make it to the top.

Current Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC that “she did not just lead our country, she saved our country”. Politicians and famous figures have released words of commiseration but the same cannot be said for some students and certain groups that are still resentful towards her policies and decisions that destroyed some of the most valuable industries in Britain.

Opinions are quite clearly divided over Thatcher’s legacy and rightly so. It must never be forgotten however, that she was the first and so far, only female Prime Minister of Britain. History student Kieran Evans said: “She showed the heights of what a woman could reach.”

Undoubtedly, her legacy has inspired future leaders and Thatcherism as a political approach can still be witnessed within today’s politics. Student Phil Brooks said: “Until someone else with such conviction and vision comes along, we will continue to live in Thatcher’s Britain.”

The Baroness had suffered for years with dementia, especially after the loss of her much loved husband, Dennis Thatcher. She had clearly lived a good life, up until recently, and had achieved what she had desired. Her policy was not to be liked by the British people; she believed that a person cannot achieve what they want in politics by being liked. This is the sentiment that ran through her politics and indeed her legacy.

Jammil Ahmed quoted Thatcher in saying: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Thatcher’s actions include privatising state owned industries, a yearlong standoff with unions which ended with the Miners Strike of 1984. The Prime Minister survived an assassination attempt from the IRA and remained loyal to her fight to win the Falklands War.

Psychology student Laura Hamilton said: “She never backed down”. However, her much disputed Poll Tax and other policies created the resentment we see today.

Business student Shradha Mishra said: “She was a visionary leader who gave power back to businesses.” The business boom can be seen by taking a look at the London skyline today. Thatcher influenced not only business women, but entrepreneurial spirit for years after her administration.

Deborah Hart called Thatcher a “truly iconic figure. Love her or hate her, she was a strength to this country when it needed her the most. I was just a youth when she was in office, and I can honestly say I cried when she was ousted from office.”

Students of this generation have preconceived ideas that stem from parents’ opinions and what they have learnt at school; however it is those who lived through Thatcher’s leadership that can help shed the most light on her time as Prime Minister.

Those who say that Thatcher has no impact on the younger generation however are much mistaken. Her policies triggered much of what is seen in the economy, society and politics today. Al Macdonald says that “people cannot brand Thatcher as the big bad wolf as she brought us through two recessions, won the Falklands war, won a Miners’ Strike and recorded some of the highest majorities in British political history”.

All this is true, however those related to the coal industry and those in favour of Argentina during the Falklands may argue against such comments. It has been witnessed that Northern cities such as Glasgow, as well as the London district of Brixton celebrated Thatcher’s death with street parties.

What can be said from most students is that thoughts are with her family, after a long period of pain and upset, Baroness Margaret Thatcher can be laid to rest in peace. No doubt controversies surrounding her political life will continue to be debated by students, politicians and academics for years, but no one can disagree with the way in which she inspired everyone, whether it is in admiration of her decisions or complete disagreement.

Thatcher will not receive a state funeral, however the Union Jack is flying at half mast over 10 Downing Street and her funeral, which is set to take place on Wednesday, April 17th, will receive military honours.

2 Responses to Margaret Thatcher’s legacy inspires students into political debate

  1. A well balanced obituary, not what I would have expected from a student publication.

  2. Thank You, I tried to be balanced with a bit of my opinion shining through…