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The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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An ode to the Iron Lady


This week in Great Britain, sales of the song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” skyrocketed. Now, this is not related to an increased national interest in “The Wizard of Oz,” or the musical talents of the munchkins. Rather, Brits are strangely coping with the death of their former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

In the 1980s, Thatcher’s conservative stance and bold leadership divided the United Kingdom. Thatcher was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990; she was elected for three consecutive terms. Thatcher’s list of achievements is by no means perfect, but her contribution to Great Britain is undeniable. David Cameron, Britain’s current head of state, said in a recent speech to the House of Commons, “What she achieved—even before her three terms in office—was remarkable.” Regardless of one’s personal opinions regarding Thatcher, she was an impressive woman.

Thatcher was a butcher’s daughter. Raised in Grantham, Thatcher was not born into a position of power or distinction. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and worked as a chemist before beginning her career in politics. She passed the bar exam in the same year that her twins were born. More importantly, Margaret Thatcher was elected a Member of Parliament in 1959.

If you’re familiar with the history of British politics, this last fact is simply astounding. That a young woman of the working class could be elected to Parliament is remarkable, and that Thatcher became Prime Minister 20 years later is more remarkable still.

In the United States, we do not have the social stratification that pervades British politics. But, in the United Kingdom, where Dukes and Lords have political sway similar to that of our titans of industry, class is an integral aspect of government. Accordingly, Thatcher is a woman who warrants a certain degree of respect in my book.

It is no small feat to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. Considering Thatcher’s circumstances, it is simply extraordinary that she was able to attain the same title as Winston Churchill—a member of the noble Spencer family. I may not agree with every action of the Iron Lady, but I admire her for her tenacity and her ability to break through that thick, glass ceiling.

This is why a recent headline left me feeling a little ill. After seeing that “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” was topping the chart in Britain; I made a point to read into Britain’s reaction to the death of their former Prime Minister. I assumed that the United Kingdom would unite to honor the death of a political leader; I was wrong. Britain has once again been polarized by their feelings toward the Iron Lady. People are rejoicing that she has died; they are buying that dreadful song from “The Wizard of Oz” with malicious intents.

However, can most people justify their hostility for Thatcher? She revived the country and brought her nation out of the Cold War. She broke through the glass ceiling and increased the middle class’s role in British politics. No matter how wicked some believe her to be, Thatcher does not deserve the unwarranted flack that she has received this week. No matter how controversial some of her actions may have been, we all can learn something from the Iron Lady. This Sunday, a butcher’s daughter will have a funeral traditionally reserved for royalty, and I find that downright inspiring.

Ashley Yarus is a freshman studying Chemical Engineering. With the onset of spring you may find her skipping around campus and smelling the fresh spring air. She would like to thank the university for planting all of those beautiful flowers and trees.

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