Goodbye to the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher died April 8. She was the first female prime minster of the United Kingdom, and she was revered by millions yet despised by many.

Without doubt, Baroness Margaret Thatcher is renowned for the changes that happened under her leadership as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990.

“Only a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one. She transformed not just her own Conservative Party, but the whole of British politics. Her enthusiasm for privatisation launched a global revolution and her willingness to stand up to tyranny helped to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill won a war, but he never created an ‘ism’ [referring to Thatcherism]” (“The Lady Who Changed the World,” The Economist, April 8, 2013).

On the news of her death, accolades came pouring in from supporters and admirers around the world expressing great respect for her memory and many achievements.

Baroness Thatcher will be given full military honors at her funeral on April 17. Even the queen and the duke of Edinburgh will attend the event. This type of honor is accorded to the highest achievers, such as Sir Winston Churchill, or royal family members, like Princess Diana.

There is no question that she was a formidable leader who brought Britain from a pessimistic time on the brink of national bankruptcy to a new prosperity and optimism.

Her philosophy

Mrs. Thatcher’s political philosophy included promoting free markets, cutting inflation and taking away power from the unions, which, she said, were strangling the U.K. economy. She encouraged entrepreneurship nationwide; and during her time in office, Britain arose from the doldrums of potential failure.

Despite her successes, she certainly had enemies and there are those who are rejoicing at her death.

Her background

She was born in 1925; and as the daughter of a grocer, she learned the principles of self-reliance, hard work and living within one’s means. She also believed in the importance of being responsible to the community where one lives and in the principle of service to the nation.

She took her schooling seriously. She passed her exams and entered Oxford University, graduating with a degree in chemistry and a master of arts. Later she entered politics, where the example of her father and the principles that he taught her as a girl came to the fore and were guiding lights to her career.

Her reputation

One commentator said Margaret Thatcher rated among the top four people of her era, along with Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II. Clearly from the international reaction to her death, she will be remembered for years to come.

There is a statue of Mrs. Thatcher that stands on the Hillsdale College campus in honor of one of her many visits there. In 1994 she gave a lecture there that became the basis for an article on “The Moral Foundations of Society” in Hillsdale’s publication Imprimis. In it she said:

“For over two centuries, Americans have held fast to their belief in freedom for all men—a belief that springs from their spiritual heritage. John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in 1789, ‘Our Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’ That was an astonishing thing to say, but it was true.”

Lessons learned

Baroness Thatcher has had her day in the sun; and like many leaders before her and many of those who will come after, she tried very hard to lead people in a way that reflected her strong beliefs.

Some leaders succeed to a degree, and many fail. Mrs. Thatcher was removed from office by her own party. In her fellow party members’ opinion she had taken a very wrong turn when she introduced a poll tax that led to riots. The policy had to be changed, and her phrase “the lady’s not for turning” (a reference to her refusal in 1980 to do a U-turn, or reversal of policy, in the face of opposition) didn’t work this time. She had to go.

Life moved on without her. All people and leaders, good or bad, have feet of clay.

There is only one leader who is perfect—Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Bible says that when He returns to this earth to finally “restore all things,” including the Kingdom of God (see Acts 3:17-23), then humanity will truly go forward in a successful and prosperous way. Peace will reign everywhere, and the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7 will be fulfilled:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

God speed that day!

For more about that perfect leader, see the article “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

About the Author

Paul Suckling

Paul Suckling

Paul Suckling is a pastor for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He was born in England and now lives in New England. He is happily married to his wife of over 50 years, Jane. They have two children and two grandchildren.

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