Excerpted from Paul Johnson’s, “Modern Times”
“The watershed year was 1979, and the battlefield was Britain. After an unprecedented series of strikes, especially in the public sector, dubbed by the media ‘the winter of discontent,’ Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become leader of a British political party (in 1975), became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister on 4 May 1979, having led the Conservatives to a 43 seat electoral victory. Mrs. Thatcher, soon dubbed by the Brezhnev regime ‘the Iron Lady’ (a title she relished), called herself a ‘conviction’ politician, as opposed to a consensus one. She implicitly repudiated much of Conservative post-war policy, and especially its tacit agreement with the Labour Party that whole areas of British public life, including the welfare state and the nationalized sector, were sacrosanct. Her first task was to curb the legal power of the trade unions which, as we have seen, had been growing steadily since 1945.”
Johnson goes on to describe how Thatcher used the “step by step” approach to dismantle the bloated economic system she inherited from her predecessors. Ronald Reagan wrote in his diary on 2-26-81 that during a private meeting in the ‘Oval’ with PM Thatcher, she expressed regrets for not doing economic reform, “our way-all in one package-all or nothing.”
In book form, “Electric Kool-Aid Historian,” Douglas Brinkley, pares down “The Reagan Diaries to an economical 693 pages. Mentions of Thatcher in it begin early on, and unlike other political figures, her name lingers on in its final few pages.