DOMESTIC POLICY Margaret Thatcher altered Britain forever. When she took office, the state owned and ran gas, electricity, coal and most of the oil industry. It made the ships, planes, buses, trucks and cars. It ran the airlines, the buses, freight lines, and ferries. These were turned from subsidised loss-makers into profitable private companies. She took office in a country dominated by powerful trade unions which had defeated Labour and Tory efforts to control them. By introducing strike and leadership ballots and by facing down the miners, she brought them under the law. She gave ordinary people the chance to own a stake in the country through popular share issues and the right to buy their state-owned homes. Systematic tax cuts under her leadership turned Britain from a high-tax country into one with the lowest taxes among advanced economies. She turned Britain from a basket-case into an economic powerhouse. Dr Madsen Pirie is founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute.
FOREIGN POLICY While Margaret Thatcher will always be best known for her domestic policy, she scored some notable successes in foreign policy as well. These included the recapture of the Falkland Islands, the agreement with China on Hong Kong and the identification of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a man with whom the West could do business. She was also quick to spot the opportunity for enlargement of the European Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout her time in office, she remained convinced that the Anglo-American relationship was the key to the western alliance and that it provided the United Kingdom with a guarantee of its own security. This left her deeply suspicious of all attempts to forge a common foreign and security policy within the European Community – a legacy that remains popular among most of her supporters, and a source of deep frustration to her political enemies. Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas is a fellow of Chatham House.