Monday, April 8, 2013

The Iron Lady!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair
The ‘Iron Lady’ passed away on Monday.  Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain was 88.  Thatcher was the daughter of a grocer, who was also a Methodist preacher.  Maggie rose to become the first and only female Prime Minister of Britain.  She was a chemist and a lawyer, but she was best known for her uncompromising style of leadership.  She was unapologetically a conservative.  Thatcher and former President Ronald Reagan shared a unique friendship because they both believed in the free market system and private enterprise.  Thatcher served as Prime Minister of Great Britain for eleven(11) years, the longest in modern history.

Thatcher got the nickname, “Iron Lady” after a Soviet Union journalist described her that way in an article because she would not compromise in her stance against communism.  But she wasn’t just tough on foreign policy, Thatcher expected people to take personal responsibility in her country and described the attitude of most Brits in 1985 in the following way:

“I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand "I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!" or "I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!" "I am homeless, the Government must house me!" and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbor and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations.”

What made Thatcher unique in the political world? 

First, Maggie was a risk taker.  Her stand against labor unions in England was one that was risky from a political standpoint, but it was right for the country.  Great Britain’s manufacturing base was leaving the country.  Jobs were being lost, productivity was down and the country was headed to a welfare state (sound familiar?)  Thatcher correctly pointed out the country’s economy was headed to ruin.  She persuaded enough members of Parliament she was right and Great Britain made some strategic changes that turned their economy around.

Most elected officials base their votes/positions on issues on how it will impact their next election, but Thatcher never worried about that.  She was willing to risk her political future on a righteous cause.  That is the stuff great leaders are made of.

Second, Thatcher was unwavering after she determined the right course.  She never governed based on polling data.  When told that taking a stand against organized labor in England would end her political career, Thatcher simply shrugged the admonition off and stayed the course.  Effective leadership can get lonely.  Good leaders are often standing alone.  Thatcher was ethical and consistent in her positions.  Unlike the majority of politicians, who are guided by the political winds, Thatcher didn’t change.  There were times in England when Thatcher was not popular with the average citizen.  But her determination and resolve to stay the course changed not only her country, but the world.

Third, Thatcher accomplished all this as a woman.  Thatcher had to overcome the stereotype that a female leader just couldn’t handle the pressure or be tough.  Like Esther in the Bible, Maggie proved that women can lead and can do so quite effectively.  She surrounded herself with competent staff and advisors who shared her vision for Great Britain.  

We need more political leaders like Thatcher- male and female.  We need elected officials who are ethical, unwavering and risk takers.   The ‘Iron Lady’ truly made the world a better place to live.

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