Whether you liked, loathed or are somewhere in the middle it cannot be denied that Baroness Margaret Thatcher will be known as a major figure in British history. The Britain that she took control over in 1979 was very different to the Britain that she left in 1990. The same can be said of the Britain that Maggie was born into and the one today. Margaret Hilda Roberts as she was then known was born in 1925. This was the year that: Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. Many believe that it was his reduced regulation by government to “thin to the point of invisibility” and his reliance on market Capitalism directly contributed to the Great Depression. Benito Mussolini became the Dictator of Italy and Hitler wrote his Mein Kampf. We all know that all three of these events eventually led to the largest conflict that the world has ever known resulting in the death of over 70 million people.
Being born in 1925 Thatcher is recognised as being one of the first to be part of the generation called the Silent Generation; those born between 1925 and 1945. Growing up she would have had memories of hardship and warfare. Even though she was born into a reasonably well off stable family (her father owned two shops and was a local politician and Methodist Alderman), she would have still had to experience rationing, the death of people she knew and the general feeling of uncertainty and lack of security. It’s no wonder that these experiences would have led to her not wanting these experiences to happen again in her lifetime. It’s not a surprise that she opposed a Europe that was dominated by Germany and France, acted decisively when Argentina attacked the Falklands, fought passionately against Unions that threatened to over throw democracy and through privatisation she wanted to give the common man more affluence. It’s no wonder that she like others from her generation felt that to get on they had to work hard, be dedicated and disciplined. They felt it was their duty not just to themselves, but also to their businesses and the general community and world. Generational theory can be used to explain many past, present and future people and events. We can see that our present business leaders and politicians have a different view to Thatcher. For all of Thatcher’s faults one thing that you cannot deny is that she had passion, was a patriot and believed that what she did was for the benefit of the majority and was right, even if some of her actions led to devastation in parts of traditional working class Britain. When she came to power we had just had the Winter of Discontent, three-day working weeks. We were the “sick man of Europe” and we were held in the grip of nationalised industry that constantly and consistently kept going on strike. When Thatcher came to power she went on a crusade to cure the ailing economy. She did it because she thought it was the right thing to do for the long term good of the country. It wasn’t political it was personal, she didn’t particularly take into consideration whether it would win votes or not. It is quite likely that she would have lost the 1983 election if it hadn’t been for the success of the British troops in the Falklands war that made her popularity soar.
Today our politicians have different, but equally massive problems to deal with. The political world is very different with its legions of advisors, spin doctors and opinion polling. Our leading politicians are Baby Boomer/Generation X cuspers. Cuspers are those people born towards the end of a generation or at the beginning of a new generation. These political leaders of today are constantly looking for short-term rewards, they change their minds and policies to suit voters, and they are pragmatic, but cautious and are likely to build coalitions to try and suit everyone. Can you imagine one of these politicians dealing with the Unions of the 80’s today? There is however the huge Elephant in the Room in todays political world…………the ageing population. It is obvious that Society can no longer afford the medical bills, the care costs and the pensions that older people have become accustomed to over the last 50 years. The current proposed changes to retirement age aren’t even keeping pace with the forecasted extended life-spans (we are currently living one extra day for every seven days lived), the recent welfare cuts did not touch health care or pensions. The problem though is that it is the over 55’s that are the voters. They hold the political power and also hold the purse strings. Any politician that alienates this large section of society will be committing political suicide. So don’t expect any change soon, unless of course a war comes along!