To Change Britain


Mrs. Thatcher came to the top of political power in England in 1979, and the day she became prime minister she said, “I came to office with one deliberate intent,” and that was “to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society, from a give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation.” At that time she had no idea how much of a larger change she would usher on the international scene.

The closest foreign ally to Mrs. Thatcher was President Ronald Reagan, and history labeled their relationship as “the most enduring personal alliance in the Western world throughout the 1980s.” During the “Reagan revolution” in the United States Mrs. Thatcher changed Britain, and some critics say that indeed she destroyed the post war consensus, but regardless of the internal opposition to her economic policies, the two top leaders of the Western world have helped the West navigate the last years of the Cold War.

On the other side of the Cold War there were powerful leaders of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev until 1982, Yuri Andropov until 1984, Konstantin Chernenko until 1985, and then the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, whom she invited in London four months prior to his rise as the leader of the Soviet Union. She said about him, “I like Mr. Gorbachev,” “We can do business together.”

During her decade in power the Soviet Union experienced the effects of the political movement designed to reform the Community Party: perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness/transparency). Mr. Gorbachev’s perestroika was seeking to restructure the political and economic system of the Soviet Union. Glasnost called for transparency and openness in government institutions, decision processes and activities, less censorship and greater freedom of information. The 80s seems to be the selected decade for change in Britain, United States, and surely in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Gorbachev wanted to make the management of the USSR transparent, and somehow open for debate, “circumventing the narrow circle of apparatchiks who previously exercised complete control of the economy.” A larger degree of freedom came within the media, offering more freedom of speech and suppression of government criticism. Mrs. Thatcher even visited Moscow in 1987, four years before the Soviet Union was dissolved, the day Mr. Gorbachev resigned as President, December 25, 1991.

From this international perspective Mrs. Thatcher changed way more than Britain, indeed, she was instrumental in changing the face of the world.


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