Dubbed the “Iron Lady” by the Soviets, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher relished in living up to her nickname. Thatcher died Monday at age 87 following a stroke. Her bold, brash, sometimes abrasive style, was memorable but not always celebrated.
“The way we can look at Margaret Thatcher is that she was incredibly effective in partnering with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in terms of breaking the Soviet Union,” msnbc’s Martin Bashir said on The Daily Rundown. “At the same time, in domestic terms, she was incredibly divisive.”
Faced with a recession upon taking office as Prime Minister, Thatcher raised taxes to increase revenue and raised interest rates to stop inflation.
“She was transformative,” says Katty Kay, of the BBC World News America. “She took Britain from the stale, economic chaos of the 1970’s… She transformed it, by the end of her time in office, into a dynamic, modern economy. (But) the way she did it was tough.”
Thatcher seemed to be in a running battle with the labor movement and union leaders over her first two terms and faced a series of public protests and strikes. Nevertheless, by the time her third term began, the British economy was booming, in part due to Thatcher’s political philosophy based in free-market economics and conservative principles.
She shared those principles with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a man Thatcher herself referred to as a “dear friend.” Together, they helped give birth to the conservative movement in the U.S. and the U.K. “The fondness for Margaret Thatcher is almost universal in America. There’s little sense of the divisiveness with which she’s viewed still in Britain,” Kay said. “She’s one of those rare British leaders that’s come across the pond and won the hearts (of Americans).”