Margaret Thatcher – Icon of Conservatism

Margaret_ThatcherTributes are pouring in from around the world today remembering Margaret Thatcher and her accomplishments. She is an icon of conservatism and, along with Ronald Reagan, is greatly revered by political conservatives today.

But how conservative are her ideals by today’s standards? A post yesterday by Annie-Rose Strasser helps to put things in perspective. She writes:

[W]hile Thatcher stands as a role model for modern conservativism here in the United States, her policies likely wouldn’t hold up under the scrutiny of a modern-day GOP:

She supported socialized medicine. The modern-day GOP is so obsessed with trying to repeal Obamacare that they’ve held nearly 40 votes to do so. But Obamacare is actually a much more conservative health care policy than the socialized National Health Service, which Thatcher lauded as an accomplishment of the United Kingdom. “I believed that the NHS was a service of which we could genuinely be proud,” she wrote in her book, “It delivered a high quality of care — especially when it came to acute illnesses — and at a reasonably modest unit cost, at least compared with some insurance-based systems.”

She increased taxes. Spending actually rose during Thatcher’s first seven years in office, … and taxes took up a larger percentage as share of gross domestic product. Indeed, even by the end of her time in office taxes were still a higher percentage of GDP than they were when she arrived. … Thatcher also increased the Value Added Tax (VAT), which Newt Gingrich described as “European socialism” during the 2012 election cycle.

She believed in climate change. Thatcher was an early adherent to climate change and once warned, “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.”

She recognized that gun laws can limit gun violence. After a deadly shooting rampage in England, Thatcher said, “If [gun laws] need to be tightened up, or if we think that it could prevent anything more like this, then of course that will be considered.” A year later, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, which outlawed semi-automatic weapons, changed requirements on registering guns, allowed police to refuse a weapon to anyone they saw unfit, and allowed the Home Secretary to add other guns to the list of banned firearms.

Strasser concludes saying, “Thatcher’s old school conservatism would never mesh with the ideology of the modern Republican Party in the United States.”

How times have changed.

Addendum: As a British MP, before becoming Prime Minister, she also voted to decriminalize homosexuality and legalize abortion. Need we say more?

About Edward Clayton
Edward Clayton grew up in the US but has lived in Canada for the last 4 decades. He is a long time peace activist and committed to issues of social justice and good government. He reports on Canadian, American, and global politics from a Canadian perspective.

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