The Iron Lady: A Life

How do you summarize a life?

Margaret Thatcher came into leadership at a singular time. Britain’s economy was under IMF supervision. Inflation was rampant. Public sector and mine worker strikes were crippling the country’s industrial base. Electric brown-outs and black-outs were a regular fact of life. Margaret Thatcher refused to accept the notion that England was limping towards a small future. The Russian papers tried to ridicule her with the nick-name “The Iron Lady,” a moniker she rather relished.

Many have mentioned her whole-hearted embrace of capitalist competition, her all-in liberation of the Falklands, or her resolve in the face of IRA terrorism that almost killed her, but I think what is most striking is her enduring legacy of leadership. In the ‘70s, when she was rising in political power, everyone was looking for compromise, for the middle ground. Thatcher would have none of it. In her view, that approach would destroy democracy, because no one would know the alternatives.

Instead, she advocated full-throated debate. She had no use for toadies or empty words. She welcomed advocacy of alternatives, and then decided. And she could be very patient, provided she got what she wanted in the end.

Thatcher’s formidable force changed the world. And she got what she wanted.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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