Today, nearly 9 years later, I find myself mourning the sudden
death of Britain's greatest peacetime Prime Minister, Margaret
Thatcher. Widowed since 2003, Lady Thatcher had been in failing
health for much of the last 10 years. I have found the news very
hard indeed to take in. She seemed set, in her own words, to "go on
and on" for years.
Once again, world leaders are paying tribute to a remarkable,
slightly built woman who rose from humbling upbringings in rural
Lincolnshire to excel at Oxford University as a student in both
chemistry and law before going on to become Britain's first (and so
far only) female Prime Minister.
Margaret Thatcher was and will remain a true female icon - a
brilliant academic, a loving mother, a loyal wife and wrought with
iron will. She did not need quotas and eschewed positive
She had greater courage and leadership ability than any British
leader since Sir Winston Churchill. She faced down terrorism at
home and abroad. She clawed Britain back from being ridiculed as
"the sick man of Europe" in 1979. She faced down the over-mighty
trades unions who had brought the country to its knees. She
liberated the British economy, pioneering privatization of
nationalized industries with a vision that was copied across the
By the time she was ousted from 10 Downing Street in 1990 (by
cowardly parliamentary colleagues and not by the electorate who had
voted her into office three times, with ever larger numbers of
votes), she bestrode the world stage like a colossus.
Ronald Reagan turned to her first when he needed advice and
support on international affairs (and she readily supported him as
they redefined the Special Relationship between Britain and
America) and his successor, George H.W. Bush, was warned by her not
"to go wobbly" after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were a
formidable trio. Between them, they helped to defeat communism and
ensured that the Cold War was won without a single shot being
fired. Millions of people now live in freedom thanks in large part
to Margaret Thatcher. Like Reagan, Thatcher is still held in awe in
Eastern Europe for daring to stand up to the evil Soviet
No wonder Reagan called her "the best man in England." He was
right. As David Cameron said: "she made Britain stand tall
again - she was the patriot Prime Minister".
But Margaret Thatcher was no lapdog. She argued furiously with
President Reagan over the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and was less
than happy with the lukewarm support she received from the State
Department in 1982 when she stood up to Argentine aggression in the
Falkland Islands. But she did so with charm and a certain élan.
On one occasion she phoned Reagan to berate him while he was in
the Oval Office. As she began one of her characteristic monologues,
the President held the phone away from his ear to his colleagues,
beamed and simply said: "Isn't she marvelous?"
What a remarkable woman. What a life of achievement. And now she
is reunited with her good friend, Ronnie, where the two of them can
look down benignly on us.
It falls to us - the Young Britons' Foundation in Britain and
Young America's Foundation in the United States - to protect and
safeguard for future generations the legacies of Margaret Thatcher
and Ronald Reagan respectively.
Margaret Thatcher delivered. Now it is our turn.
Donal Blaney is the founder and Chief Executive of the Young
Britons' Foundation (www.ybf.org.uk).