Margaret Thatcher

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Thatcher remains identified with her remarks to the reporter Douglas Keay, for Woman's Own magazine, 23 September 1987:

As the individualistic credo expressed above took hold of Thatcher's Britain, egalitarian concerns dwindled. Andy Beckett commented: "Authorities on poverty rates and income distributions differ as to precisely when the optimum moment of equality in Britain came, but some statistics leap out. The Gini coefficient, a common measure of income inequality, reached its lowest level for British households in 1977. The proportion of individual Britons below the poverty line did the same in 1978. Social mobility, the likelihood of someone becoming part of a different class from their parents, peaked in the Callaghan era. The egalitarian Britain of the Callaghan years and its social trends were relentlessly reversed in the Thatcher years and beyond, so that Britain in the 1970s was probably more equal than it had ever been before, and certainly more than it has ever been since."[238]

To her supporters Margaret Thatcher remains a figure who revitalised Britain's economy, impacted the trade unions, and re-established the nation as a world power.[239] Yet Thatcher was also a controversial figure, her premiership marked by high unemployment and social unrest,[239] and many critics fault her economic policies for the unemployment level.[240] Speaking in Scotland in April 2009, before the 30th anniversary of her election as prime minister, Thatcher declared: "I regret nothing", and insisted she "was right to introduce the poll tax and to close loss-making industries to end the country's 'dependency culture'."[241]

Critics have regretted her influence in the abandonment of full employment, poverty reduction and a consensual civility as bedrock policy objectives. Many recent biographers have been critical of many aspects of the Thatcher years and Michael White writing in New Statesman in February 2009 wondered if the ' hubristic collapse of the free-market model of capitalism that she promoted [had] dealt her another blow. Who was it who first removed the seat belts and airbags from the safe-but-boring Volvo that the West built after 1945? 'Her freer, more promiscuous version of capitalism' in Hugo Young's phrase is reaping a darker harvest."[242]


In addition to her conventional appointment as a Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council (PC) upon becoming Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1970[243] Thatcher has received numerous honours as a result of her career, including being named a Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (LG). She is a Member of the Order of Merit (OM) as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and the first woman entitled to full membership rights as an honorary member of the Carlton Club, a gentlemen's club.

Thatcher became a peer in the House of Lords in 1992 by the bestowal of a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire.[194][244] Thatcher had already been honoured by the Queen in 1990, shortly after her resignation as Prime Minister, when awarded the Order of Merit, one of the UK's highest distinctions and in the personal conferment of the sovereign.[245] At the same time it was announced that her husband, Denis, would be given a baronetcy, which was confirmed in 1991[245][246] (ensuring that their son, Mark, would inherit a title). She and her husband were one of the few married couples where both partners held noble titles in their own right. In 1995, Baroness Thatcher was appointed a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter, the United Kingdom's highest order of chivalry.[247]

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