I’ll never forget when Margaret Thatcher came to power. I was in Class 8 at Goldsworth First School. Mrs Ferguson was our teacher. On Monday 7th May 1979, we returned to school after Mrs Thatcher was elected into power on Friday 4th May 1979 and we were asked to write about how a lady had just become our Prime Minister. I remember writing about her and drawing a picture and thinking how important this must be. I was almost eight years old.
This is the first proper memory I have of something important at school after the Queens Silver Jubilee (I won the crown-making competition..or should I say, my Mum did!).
I know that there is so much controversy surrounding this woman but I don’t focus on that. I know that a politician’s job is not an easy one and – without trying to sound like a feminist – it is even harder as a woman elected into power, especially as things were in the ’70s. She’s been called a cow, a witch and a bitch (amongst other things). Since when can you call the male politicians these names? She was trying to do a difficult and taxing job as well as be a mother of two and a wife to Dennis (whom, I understand, was very supportive of her). She would survive on 3 to 4 hours sleep a night and still manage to run the country. She was left with an abysmal mess that the Labour Government left behind. I’m old enough to remember the power strikes that went on during the 1970’s. We would get home from school and watch 10 minutes of television. As soon as Mighty Mouse came on, that was it, the power was off until around 8pm – the most inconvenient time of the day. We ate salads and takeaways for what seemed like forever.
The outpouring of venom and spite on today’s Twitter and Facebook feeds makes me feel sad for these people and the example they are setting to the rest of the world. The people celebrating her death generally are generally from a Unionised workface and the very ethos of these groups was supporting the family. She has family too. Everyone seems to be treating her like she was some kind of cyborg serial killer. She had an immensely difficult job on her hands and I don’t believe for one second that, as a Mother, that she didn’t consider that to fix some of the problems she had to cause some as well. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
The Russians had it right when they called her the ‘Iron Lady’. She escaped death in the Brighton bombings back in 1984 which killed 5 and injured 34. The IRA meant to kill her. The reason she didn’t die? She was still working…..at 2.45am. She stood her ground on the Falklands and against the IRA. She made mistakes in her job but doesn’t everyone? You can’t please all of the people all of the time. She gained respect for as a Nation from other Countries.
I’ll never forget that one of the only times I ever saw my Father cry was in 1990 when she left Downing Street for the final time. The Gulf War was just kicking off as she left. I wonder what would have happened if she’d stayed?
Yes, I know that she was unpopular with many people. Yes, I know her decisions didn’t suit everyone. But not only is she the only woman to ever have held the post of Prime Minister in this Country, she was also the 20th Century’s longest serving who shaped and changed many things in Great Britain.
I’m not ashamed to say that I hold this woman as one of my role models. She was strong, she stood her ground, she spoke up in the face of adversity. One of my favourite quotes of hers – ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.’
Surely this frail, 87 year old woman who suffered from Alzheimers and died from a stroke today, who never did anyone any intentional harm and was a mother, grandmother and wife – as well as one of this Country’s most recognised leaders – deserves respect. What harm was she actually doing anyone at this stage of her life?