After Winston Churchill left politics, Britain sank into an ooze of socialism. The country that had helped save Europe quickly became a second-class nation.
Then, along came Margaret Thatcher. In her 11-year service as prime minister starting in 1979, England recovered. In spite of the best efforts of the socialists after Thatcher, England remains a strong nation, along with Germany a bulwark of a presently troubled, socialist-leaning Europe.
Thatcher, who died Monday at 87, was forced out of office in 1990 by a revolt in her own party over a highly unpopular poll tax. She was succeeded by another Conservative, John Major.
“Margaret Thatcher took a country that was on its knees and made Britain stand tall again,” said current Prime Minister David Cameron, also a Conservative, on Thatcher’s death.
One of the things about which Thatcher was skeptical was a centralized Europe. “Her stance against joining a common European currency has earned few detractors,” wrote Cassel Bryan-Low in the Tuesday Wall Street Journal.
She was dubbed “The Iron Lady” by the Soviet Army newspaper, Red Star, following an anticommunism speech in 1976. That moniker stuck.
She was a political ally and close friend of President Ronald Reagan. The two exchanged several visits. Their approaches to politics and the Cold War brought communism and the Soviet Union’s aggression to a standstill.
In her last few years, she suffered an onset of dementia, just as her friend Reagan did.
She was well educated. She earned a degree in chemistry, from Oxford, and later qualified as a barrister, one who argues cases in the British court system. She was first elected to Parliament as a Conservative member in 1959.
She was firm in her beliefs and courageous in exercising them in public life.