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Margaret Thatcher dies. Falklands legacy unassailable
April 8, 2013Posted by on
Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister from 1979 – 1990, passed away on Monday morning leaving behind a legacy few others could equal. A divisive figure and political enigma, the first woman Prime Minister will be revered by many as the Iron Lady who protected British sovereignty on the Falkland Islands in 1982.
She sent 27,000 men and over 100 ships to the remote islands near the Argentinian coast. Following the successful defence of the islands some weeks later, she said:
“What the Falklands proved was that we could still do it, and do it superbly. There was a feeling of colossal pride, of relief, that we could still do the things for which we were renowned. And that feeling will stay with us for a very long time.”
Despite brash calls from Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández over the last 12 months for the islands to fall under her government’s control, the Falklands are, and will remain, British. Last month a referendum was held with 99.8% of islanders voting to preserve the status quo under British rule.
Even as a reluctant foreign policy premier, Thatcher’s alliance with U.S. President Ronald Reagan also provided a united front in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Iron Curtain eventually fell in 1991, 13 months after the Iron Lady resigned from office following a leadership challenge from Michael Heseltine.
Love or loathe, respect or revile; Thatcher deserves to be recognised as a true giant of British politics and an icon of 20thcentury independence. She was a heck of a character; a pioneer, a visionary and fearless antagonist. A grocer’s daughter.
Margaret Thatcher the person will not be forgotten. Nor should the democratic, sovereign values she stood for in the Falklands be.
That feeling Thatcher talked about is still with us. But only just.