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Monday, May 04, 2009

30 Years Ago Today: An Event That Changed History for the Better

Margaret Thatcher Became Prime Minister!

Here are her brief remarks as she enters Number 10 Downing Street (the official office and residence of the British Prime Minister) for the first time as Prime Minister:

"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope." Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, full story of the remarks here.
Margaret Thatcher entered office at a critical time for Britain. Socialist government policies and unions which destroyed worker productivity by discouraging individual effort had nearly bankrupted the country. In the late 1970's the nation was regarded as the "sick man of Europe."

Despite Thatcher's stirring call for harmony the left in the United Kingdom mustered every weapon available to attack her. Violent strikes were common during the early years as unions and their socialist allies attempted to block Thatcher's reforms. But the Iron Lady won nearly every battle and Britain emerged strong and more prosperous as a result.
Real Change: Reagan and Thatcher Made the World a Better Place

Britain also retook it's place center stage in world politics as Margaret Thatcher joined in partnership with President Reagan after his inauguration in 1981. The two had known each other for years. Thatcher had read many of Reagan's early speeches and "agreed with it all." They first met one on one in 1975. The hand written letter of thanks Ronald Reagan sent to Mrs. Thatcher can be read here.

I had the privilege to attend Margaret Thatcher's final state visit to the White House November 16, 1988 (program cover photo here). The photo at right was taken by me at that event.

The Thatcher Foundation archives maintains an impressive collection of letters, memos and other material from the collaboration between these two giants of the 20th Century.

Years later I was walking through Belgrave Square in London where now Lady Thatcher has a home and was thrilled that her car drove up at that moment and out she popped.

Her health has declined in later years but many Americans were touched that she made the effort to attend President Reagan's funeral in person. Her daughter Carol writes extensively about her mother and describes the sadness of watching her mother's once sharp mind decline.

But students of history can relive moments of Thatcher's greatness. In her last speech before Parliament on the day she resigned after being stabbed in the back by ungrateful conservatives, the brilliance of her personality and intellect were on full display. The video is titled "Thatcher's Last Stand Against Socialism" and every word rings true today.

No teleprompter needed:

Thatcher's Last Stand Against Socialism

Margaret Thatcher is an icon of the age and a reminder of what real leaders can achieve when they advance principle before politics.

Visit the Margaret Thatcher Foundation web site for a wealth of information.

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