Contemporary Conflicts

Iron Principles of the Iron Lady

April 10, 2013


I, personally, admire convictions of the Iron Lady, the convictions that she stayed true to throughout her life. It is inhumane to gloat at anyone’s death, and it is a shame to see celebrating demonstrators who fail to step over political differences and see something much greater – Margaret Thatcher’s love for Britain, her strength of character, her dedication to hard work and determination - qualities that one can’t help but hold in respect. To pay my tribute to Margaret Thatcher, I would like to share some of her inspiring principles that if adopted by majority of contemporary leaders could make a real difference in our world. 



1. Hard work


Margaret Roberts learned the value of hard work at a young age. She helped her father at his grocery store while still studying in school and earning excellent marks. When the head of school told the 10-year-old Maggie how lucky she was to have won a poetry recital contest, she replied: “I was not lucky. I deserved it.”


Also, Ms. Thatcher was not simply lucky to become first female British Prime Minister, quite the opposite, she had to work to achieve everything she did. Work filled her day, and she got by on only four hours a night. She worked hard despite enormous criticism, even though then it seemed impossible for a woman to hold any position of significant national authority anywhere in the world.  Hard work was her recipe. 




“I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.”






2. Determination


Margaret Thatcher’s ascension to prime minister was not easy. She lost several campaigns before she became British prime minister. Nevertheless, she never gave up. She did not recognize the meaning of defeat. She knew what she wanted to do and was determined to do it.






“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.







She had the ability to stick to a job and get on with it even when everybody else walked off. Thus, at a low point in her popularity ratings, when even her party members expressed doubts about sticking to tough economic policies, she replied to her critics:






"You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!"








Ms.Thatcher did not turn and proved to be right. Her economic policies had a profound impact on the British economy, and her reform agenda remained untouched even after Labour's victory in 1997.



3. Right reasons


Margaret Thatcher deeply loved her country. She felt passionately proud to be British. She set out to replace the dependency culture with an enterprise culture.





“I came to office with one deliberate intent - to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society, from a give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation.”








Enterprise culture enshrines the values of liberal economics: the efficiency of markets, the liberty of individuals, and the noninterventionism of the state. In order to succeed and create wealth, hard work is required, but making money should not become selfish activity.








“It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake.”









Margaret Thatcher disdained populism and remained true to what she believed in, despite everything. Ms. Thatcher  began her time in office with an approval rating just above 40 percent. Her popularity surged 50 percent after the victory in the 1982 Falklands War. Though, on leaving office in November 1990 her approval rating was in the mid-30s.








“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”












“Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas?” 






It was her love for Britain that enabled her to cure not only the “sick old man of Europe but eventually impact the world.


4. Well reasoned argument


She enjoyed arguing with those of opposing views. To the extent that consensus to her was equivalent to “abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies”. Thanks to Thatcher the term “to handbag” entered the political lexicon, meaning to be utterly squashed by one’s female opponent.











“I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job.














5. Discipline


Margaret Thatcher used to say she owed almost everything to her father and the life principles that  her father taught her are the principles that helped her achieve what she set out to achieve. 






“We will stand on principle... or we will not stand at all.” 











“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.”






“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that... and I think I am fine.”







Margaret Thatcher was not only the first woman to lead a Western power, she was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century, serving 11, 5 uninterrupted years in office.


By the time she left office, her principles became widely popular and won many disciples. She believed that individuals had the right to run their own lives, that economic and individual freedoms were interdependent, and that government’s intervention should be limited. She bet on individual freedom and hard work as the only ways to national prosperity. 






“What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”



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