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Baroness Margaret Thatcher dies, leaves powerful legacy

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Political legend, baroness, and former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher has passed away following a stroke. Thatcher was the nation's only female prime minister and a conservative paragon during her tenure, which lasted from 1979 to 1990.

LONDON, ENGLAND (Catholic Online) - She was powerful, respected, and at times, feared, but in her last years Baroness Thatcher struggled with dementia and minor strokes which generally made it difficult for her to function. She passed away on Monday at the age of 87.

Thatcher was well respected in England, even by her enemies who found her tough and formidable. Thatcher was renowned for rescuing England from socialism, reversing the creep of government power over the lives of individuals. She promoted a policy that emphasized individual liberty and economic freedom, and broke the power of labor unions while reversing a trend to nationalize industries.

She was also instrumental in bringing the Cold War to an end, often serving as a go-between for the United States and the Soviet Union.

Thatcher served longer than any other Prime Minister in the 20th century and has often been compared alongside Winston Churchill, widely regarded as the other great prime minister of the century.

Prime Minister Thatcher also endured multiple crises with alacrity, including a severe and growing economic crisis at home. She averted economic disaster by selling off nationalized industries, reducing government economic regulation, and slowing inflation.

Thatcher's no-compromise, take-no-prisoners attitude served her well when she faced opposition, even from her own party. She was a taskmaster, and expected others to do their work to the utmost. Critics were often blasted with facts and information, a tactic she used to silence them which the media dubbed "handbagging."

After facing down crisis at home, she saw her country embroiled in the Falklands War, a conflict over the control of islands in the South Atlantic, claimed by Argentina. Under her leadership, England emerged victorious.

Under Thatcher, England enjoyed new growth and although her party was conservative, she spearheaded a series of reforms which improved economic conditions and the lives of all Britons.

Thatcher's role as Prime Minister came to an end in late 1990, as she doubled down on her opposition to England joining the European Community (later, Union). Upon her departure, the economy was in recession once again.

Thatcher also helped to modernize the nation's nuclear force and was dubbed "the Iron Lady" by Soviet media. The increasing power of Britain in the 1980s was a decisive factor in ending the Cold War.

Thatcher left office and remained politically active for a short time thereafter in the House of Commons. The then went to work in private industry, delivering speeches for the Philip Morris Company and speaking her mind on various political issues of the day.

In 2002, she began suffering a series of minor strokes and was advised against further public speaking. Her husband passed away the following year and she began to scale back her public activity. At President Ronald Regan's funeral in 2004, her eulogy was delivered by videotape.

By 2005, dementia had set in and Thatcher became less coherent in her communication. She missed several high-profile social events due to ill health and her public offices were closed in 2011.

Baroness Thatcher passed away leaving behind a lasting legacy on England which includes a conservative political philosophy known as Thatcherism. Thatcherism stresses individual responsibility and freedom without dependency on the government.

Flags across the UK are flying at half-staff today and she will be remembered in state ceremonies in the days to come.

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