Who is the real Margaret Thatcher? The person who had already created history by being the only woman as yet to become prime minister of the United Kingdom? Or the prime minister who would be seen as a divided figure for what she did as how her supporters and critics see her? Or the woman who was struggling to fit into what she wants to be, even before eventually becoming the prime minister?
For the audience viewing from the outside of the United Kingdom, the 2011 film 'The Iron Lady' which would see Meryl Streep winning the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the only woman to become the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is the starting point. But Streep had said in her statement in reaction to the death of Mrs. Thatcher on what she felt portraying her on screen, it was a glimpse into the struggles of what she went through. And it was the case of the woman who was born Margaret Roberts had struggled into life at Oxford when she was studying Chemistry. Still, the political instincts were first sowed by her father Alfred who was the grocer, the mayor of Grantham. She might have been studying Chemistry at Oxford but politics was her calling, when she joined the Oxford University Conservative Association and would eventually be the president of the association.
It would continue after Oxford, even as the then-Miss Margaret Roberts worked as a research chemist. She was already setting her sights onto becoming an MP, as a family friend interviewed in the feature recalled. The unsuccessful attempts of contesting at Dartford led to her meeting the man she would marry and the last name which will become a political philosophy on its own years later, Denis Thatcher. Then along came Finchley which will believe in her and launch the now-Margaret Thatcher's political career.
For anyone who had watched Meryl Streep in action in 'The Iron Lady', it is a reminder of what the real Iron Lady did during her time as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and more. It was Mrs. Thatcher's strong stance against communism which has actually led to the Soviet press calling her 'The Iron Lady', a label which she would wear with pride. It could eventually be seen for a prime minister who did things as she felt was right, even in the face of the strikes threatening to cripple the country with the powerful trade unions she was confronting in what would be termed the 'winter of discontent' of 1984-85.
But for all that was happening at home, there is also how she is come to be viewed abroad. The involvement in the Falklands War which brought out the battling instincts in her, how she would come to get along well with her then-American counterpart in Ronald Regan, the meeting with Mikhail Gobarchev, her evolvement of views on Europe that would play a part in her ousting from office where it would be remembered for what she spoke in the House of Commons of her now-famous 'No, No, No' speech.
To her admirers whom include the now-British Prime Minister David Cameron who was interviewed for the feature, Mrs. Thatcher transformed the country from being down in the dumps to becoming a powerhouse on the world stage once again. But to her critics, the rich in the country has got richer and the poor has got poorer. But the fact that she has become the longest-serving prime minister in recent history when being in office from 1979 to 1990 and won three consecutive elections, that is something which cannot be disputed for someone who had survived an assassination attempt at the 1984 Brighton bombings which had taken place before the Conservative Party conference. Though for her admirers, what happened four years before was a defining moment in her time as prime minister where she would famously said to her critics at the party conference on her economic policies 'The lady's not for turning'.
Even if it would be 23 years since she left 10 Downing Street which she resigned after her own cabinet plotting a coup against her, the news of her death on 8 April drew an immediate polarising reaction from her supporters and her critics. It says something that even in death, Margaret Thatcher's political legacy divided between those who admire her and those who loathed her. But regardless of the politics, let the feature be a reminder of what she once did when she was the prime minister.
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