Thatcher called 'last of a generation of giants'
When conservatives talk about an economic turnaround, many of them are really talking about Margaret Thatcher's Great Britain.
“She was terrific,” said Allan Meltzer, professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University and an adviser to Thatcher during the 1980s.
Thatcher's reforms transformed the British economy during her 11 years as prime minister, including a flurry of deregulation that came to be known as the “Big Bang,” which helped make London a center of the global financial industry. Critics say those policies hurt unions and the working class.
“There are a lot of critics of hers in Britain,” Meltzer said. Yet voters gave her three terms as prime minister, he said. “The public liked her.”
Thatcher, who died Monday, pitched conservative policies as being about more than lowering government spending, said Edwin J. Feulner, former president of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
“She talked about (privatization) not so much to fix the British government's balance sheet but to give people a stake in the system,” Feulner said.
Heritage began the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in 2005. Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife is a member of The Heritage Foundation's board of directors.
Her political opponents in the Labor Party vindicated some of Thatcher's policies by keeping them in place after they won, Meltzer said.
“She knew how to lead. She had long-term goals that she knew she couldn't realize on the first day,” Meltzer said. Those were to “bring down the inflation rate, lower the tax rate and get the economy moving again. She did all those things. She turned the country around.”
Meltzer described Thatcher as “very businesslike.”
“She was very much, in that respect, like President Reagan,” whom Meltzer also advised, he said. Reagan was “a more open, affable person, but you didn't get close to him, and you didn't feel you were close to her.”
Great Britain's parliamentary system required Thatcher to be more immersed in policy details than Reagan, Meltzer said. Twice each week, she would face opposing politicians on the floor of the House of Commons.
“President Reagan never really cared about the details,” Meltzer said. Reagan trusted his staff to make decisions because, if you worked in his administration, “he believed you shared his objective. She was much more hands-on.”
“But they shared a similar commitment to free markets and free people,” Meltzer said.
Sen. Pat Toomey called Thatcher “a hero of mine” and credited the “shopkeeper's daughter” with reshaping Britain's government and economy “with her conservative convictions.”
“Margaret Thatcher was a trailblazer who never thought there would be a woman prime minister in her lifetime. She shattered that glass ceiling herself,” Toomey, R-Lehigh County, said.
Thatcher was “the last of a generation of giants in the fight for freedom,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley.
“Her principled leadership led to economic renaissance in Great Britain and demonstrated the power of free markets and a free people,” Rothfus said.
Mike Wereschagin is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tiny black weevils booming in W.Pa.
- Man fatally shot in East Liberty; police investigating 2nd shooting
- Independence Day festivities scheduled
- Homewood West woman charged after stabbing woman during card game
- Public implored to avoid iPhone cases that resemble guns
- Plenty going on in Pittsburgh over holiday weekend
- Fireworks displays costly, but W. Pa. communities feel obligated
- Higher school taxes prevail in Western Pennsylvania, Trib finds
- Tradition rules in Pittsburgh: Keep bridge color the same, poll finds
- Pittsburgh a big draw for tourists on July 4th weekend
- Pitt researchers using grant to find cures for viruses from mosquitoes