For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Margaret Thatcher
A Portrait of the Iron Lady
  • John Blundell
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Margaret Thatcher. A Portrait of the Iron Lady
Sound Bite

This biography of Lady Thatcher relates in warm detail the life of Margaret Thatcher, her achievements as British Prime Minister, and her life since retirement. Written in a vigorous, no-nonsense style, Lady Thatcher provides a succinct portrait of the Iron Lady, illustrating what the terms “Thatcherite” and “Thatcherism” really mean. Blundell shows why Thatcher was such an outstanding world leader and such an inspiration for women leaders in particular.

The book begins with contrasting scenes — the desolation of Britain in the 1978-9 “Winter of Discontent” prior to Thatcher's premiership, and the economic buoyancy and national self-confidence that prevailed by the end of her period in office 11 ½ years later. The body of the text provides a chronological, strongly narrative treatment of Thatcher’s life, from childhood through to current times.

John Blundell has been one of the most effective champions of the free- enterprise economic model which has delivered progress and prosperity around the world. Therefore he is very well placed to explain to Americans the beliefs and principles which underpinned what became known as "Thatcherism".

—Lady Thatcher, Summer 2008

About the Author

John Blundell is Director-General of London's Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which was recently described by the BBC's Andrew Marr as "undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history".

He has known Margaret Thatcher since 1970 and has met her in every post she has had since then (and many times since she resigned from public office).

Educated in the UK, he spent over a decade working in the United States and has homes in London and the Allegheny Mountains. He is on the Board of Directors of three major US conservative groups.

About the Book

This book is John Blundell's personal portrait of Margaret Thatcher, the woman who was the pivotal point of the rescue of a country, a woman who woke up her nation and made it once again a world leader. It is not only the story of her life but...

This book is John Blundell's personal portrait of Margaret Thatcher, the woman who was the pivotal point of the rescue of a country, a woman who woke up her nation and made it once again a world leader. It is not only the story of her life but also an examination of the ideas, interests, and circumstances surrounding key events.

The author illustrates Thatcher's decisive style in handling potentially explosive issues, her sang-froid, and her charm through numerous vignettes and quotes. He relates the facts of Margaret Thatcher's terms in power and explains how policy reforms and political perspectives that are now taken for granted in Britain had to be fought for.

The transformation she brought to the United Kingdom was stunning on many fronts. Pre-Thatcher, Blundell says, a sclerotic union-dominated economy was typified by surly service, poor products and a "craven" business class. Post-Thatcher even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), an exemplar of what Americans call the "liberal media," extended its coverage of the private business sector quite considerably, such is the emphasis on the values of capitalism in today's society. Service and product quality have been improved many times over. The choice and level of quality and service that had so impressed the author on his first visits to the U.S. in 1974 was becoming commonplace in the UK by the end of her terms as Prime Minister.

When Margaret Thatcher donated $3m to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, to establish the Thatcher Center, it was John Blundell who proposed the toast to her in front of the 500+ audience assembled to mark the occasion. As the Iron Lady said, herself, John is very well placed to explain to Americans the beliefs and principles which underpinned what became known as "Thatcherism".


Table of Contents
Part I : THE ROAD TO DOWNING STREET 1. Childhood

Part I : THE ROAD TO DOWNING STREET

1. Childhood

2. University

3. Starting Out

4. Elected

5. Opposition

6. Education

7. Reflection

8. Becoming Leader

9. Leading the Opposition

10. Winning Power

Part II : GETTING THE JOB DONE

11. Liberating The Economy

12. Privatizing The Commanding Heights

13. Selling Off Public Housing

14. Going To War

15. Beating The Miners

16. Reforming The Unions

17. Battling The IRA

18. Friendship with America

19. Kicking Down The Wall

20. Dealing With Brussels

Part III : THE NEXT TWO DECADES

21. Resignation

22. In Retirement

23. Family: Denis, Carol, Mark

24. Men: Alf, Keith, Ronald, Alfred, Alan, Ralph

25. Ten Lessons

26. Margaret In Interview

I. Timeline including all of MargaretÂ’s elections

II. British General Elections 1945 – 2005

III. Sources and Further Reading


More . . .

USA Today  As Margaret Thatcher's legacy shows, historic firsts don't have a quick second...
by John Blundell

USA TODAY    6:28p.m. EST             January 17, 2013

"Waiting for the second black president"

In...

USA Today  As Margaret Thatcher's legacy shows, historic firsts don't have a quick second...
by John Blundell

USA TODAY    6:28p.m. EST             January 17, 2013

"Waiting for the second black president"

In a few days, America's first black president will be inaugurated for a second term. It is a major moment in history that we won't likely see repeated in most people's lifetimes. Leadership seconds rarely come hard on the heels of transformational leadership firsts.

About five years ago, I asked Margaret Thatcher: "Lady T, are you more proud of being the first lady prime minister (of the United Kingdom) or the first scientist to hold that position?" The former chemist, then just turned 80, fired back: "Oh scientist, definitely scientist."

But Margaret's success — a double first — has not led to a tsunami. True, she shattered barriers, but other women and other scientists have been slow to follow. In subsequent decades, British women have for the first time served in two of the country's four top jobs, but they have had little impact and have never come close to repeating as prime minister. And as for Margaret's other first, scientists have done no better. Scientist David Davis, a member of Parliament, lost the battle for leadership of the U.K.'s Conservative Party to non-scientist David Cameron MP, now the prime minister.

John F. Kennedy's role

Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy overcame long-held prejudice to serve as America's first Catholic president. Since then John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2004, has been the only Catholic to come close, though Catholics have been vice president, including the current one, Joe Biden.

As important as matters of race, sex and religion are, the reason that barrier-breaking leaders tend not to have an immediate second act is that such leaders are often the right person at the right time for many reasons other than their race, sex or religion. Iconic writers such as Keynes and Marx respectively stressed the role of ideas and interests in politics, while others such as John Stewart Mill have focused on circumstances, or as the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once supposedly said, "Events, dear boy, events."

In the case of Thatcher, one can see all three at work. From her Methodist father, her voracious reading, and her interaction with think tanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs, she had a coherent philosophy. Her union reforms, sales of public housing and privatization of large sectors of the economy aimed to weaken her enemies and build up the ranks of her backers. And circumstances often favored her, as when the Winter of Discontent, a period of broad union unrest in early 1979, turned a likely slim victory on a wimpy platform into a comfortable win on a much tougher set of policies. Then along came some bullies for her to discipline, namely Argentinean generals and British trade union leaders.

Competence over appearance

So, too, did Barack Obama benefit from many factors beyond his race — a unique upbringing, a compelling rhetorical style, the desire of many Democrats not to have another Clinton in the White House and an electorate restless after eight years of Republican rule, as well as two wars the public had long lost patience with. Powerful leaders emerge because of many more forces than just surface features.

Such leaders seek those other characteristics in their subordinates as well. There are recent signs that President Obama prizes strong leadership, loyalty and competence above his own unique characteristic. He has been pummeled for weeks about the lack of diversity in his second-term Cabinet appointments, placing trusted and experienced white male after white male in positions of power.

To Margaret, being a woman was nowhere near as important to her as hard work and competence. There was only a single woman who briefly served in her Cabinet. The big joke, of course, was that only one person in the Cabinet wore trousers — Margaret.

That does not mean these leaders don't change things. Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the second most powerful person (not just woman) in the world. In the United States, with 103 women in Congress and gubernatorial mansions, it can't be long before one of them or their recent colleagues is the right person in the right place at the right time.


More Information

Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep, & The Iron Lady: Fact vs. Fiction

CLICK TO WATCH: Watch Reason.TV (About 5.30 minutes. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg.)

"When I first heard of this movie," says John Blundell, "I...

Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep, & The Iron Lady: Fact vs. Fiction

CLICK TO WATCH: Watch Reason.TV (About 5.30 minutes. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg.)

"When I first heard of this movie," says John Blundell, "I immediately was a little worried because of Meryl Streep's own ideas and polices and so on that are very distinctly not Thatcherite."

As a longtime Margaret Thatcher ally, few people are in a better position than John Blundell to assess the veracity of the Oscar-nominated bio-pic, The Iron Lady. The former head of influential free-market organizations such as The Institute of Economic Affairs, The Institute for Humane Studies, and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Blundell is also the author of Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady (2007) and the new Ladies for Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History.

On the eve of the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony, Blundell sat down with Reason.tv to discuss the controversy surrounding the film (which depicts its titular character in the throes of dementia), Streep's widely praised performance, and the continuing power of Thatcher's social and political legacy.

"I must admit," he says, "to being pleasantly surprised. I think overall Margaret comes out of this process with her reputation enhanced and, of course, Meryl Streep's reputation hugely enhanced."

(Visit http://www.reason.tv for downloadable versions)


Reviews
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Pages 196
Year: 2008
LC Classification: DA591.T47B58
Dewey code: 941.085'8092--dc22
BISAC: BIO011000 BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Presidents & Heads of State
BISAC: BIO022000 BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Women
BISAC: HIS015000 HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-630-7
Price: USD 24.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-631-4
Price: USD 34.95
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-632-1
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