Iron Filings

“The Iron Lady of the Western World? Me? A cold war warrior? Well, yes - if that is how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life”

— The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS

There are going to be tributes and teardowns of Margaret Hilda Thatcher all over the world today. I watched as they started last night - particularly the teardowns. And it was the latter that really got to me. Because they seemed to sum up all the reasons why we need women like Lady T in politics in the first place.

'Old bag.'


'Fascist' (?)

'Glad she's dead. Stain on British history.'

'Send her straight to hell. Evil woman.'

What I noticed with all of the put-downs was that nearly every single one was not about her political stance per se.

It was about her personality. Or lack thereof.

Sound familiar?

I was obviously not particularly politically aware when the then Mrs Thatcher and Dennis moved into Number Ten - I was after all only seven years old. But as I became more savvy (read: older) I soon came to see that this was a woman who could not only mix it with the big boys, she could rip them apart and eat them with her Weetabix.

Her policies may not have been mine; her hairstyle most definitely wasn't, and never will be; but in the ultra-conservative 80s, at a time when the IRA was busily bombing the bejeebers out of Brighton, and Argentina decided it would quite like a few bits of rock sitting in the middle of the Atlantic  - oh, and Russia wasn't all that friendly - this smiling assassin in pussy-bowed silk shirts kept Britain, well, Britain.

She was a research chemist. A barrister.

She was the daughter of a greengrocer.

She was twenty years ahead of her time when it came to the ECC/EC/EU.

She made the party's way her way. Or the highway.

I often wonder, more than any Prime Minister with the exception of Tony Blair when Diana died, how she got on with the Queen in those closed door weekly meetings.

Talk about a clash of the permanent waves.

I truly believe that in large part, there is another redhead sitting in our white house because of this woman. That Condy Rice, Angela Merkel, Mary Mcaleese - all of these women smacked it out of the ballpark in part because of the steel in Maggie's backbone (and possibly corset). That there will potentially be a female US president in 2016 (who is one of the best statesmen the US has ever seen) because of her too. Not because she was the saviour of the British economy, or healed the sick with her bare hands, or did anything particularly miraculous in itself.

With the exception of one thing.

She led a vastly conservative nation at the height of the Cold War, and she did it with fortitude, and strength, and courage, and cynicism, and irony, and contempt for weakness.

There was no puppet master. She bowed to no faction.

And no matter what her stance on certain issues, I for one am grateful that Margaret Thatcher was the woman that she was, because she gave a hell of a lot of inspiration to girls who were just daring to think outside the square.

And she did it with a flamethrower.

Gratitude for the attitude, Maggie. Go gently into that good night.

You've earned a rest.

Although no doubt you're already de-unionising the heavenly host and telling God where to get off. Given half a chance.

Yet another reason to be a heathen...

VALE MARGARET HILDA THATCHER (Née Roberts), BARONESS OF KESTEVEN, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013