Doing things differently since 1984

Confessions of a History Major

It may be of interest to a few people that Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Great Britain, died today.  My first thought?  “Oh, Margaret Thatcher!  She’s the one who…. umm… was she prime minister during the 1970’s or 80’s?”

For most people, this wouldn’t be weird.  But I have a Master’s degree in British History.  From the UK.   I studied history for 6 years, and got myself a few pieces of paper that tell the world that *I* am an expert.  So what gives?  Where is my fountain of knowledge about Margaret Thatcher?

That’s when I realized – my brain is missing two decades’ worth of history.  I was born in the 1980’s.  I’ve picked up the 1990’s and onward on my own by living them.  No school would get away with not teaching the 1960’s.  But the 1970’s and 1980’s weren’t really “history” when I was in school.  I know lots of wide-sweeping concepts, but my knowledge about actual people and events are patched together from movies and from tidbits that people at least my parents’ age have mentioned here and there.

So, I’ve done what any self-respecting historian would have done – I’ve skimmed the internet for a crash-course in Thatcherism.    In case you’re curious, or suffering the same knowledge deficiency as me, here’s a quick summary from your friendly “expert”:


  1. Margaret Thatcher was prime minister from 1979-1990
  2. She was ultra-conservative (in a fiscal-policy way, not a warmongering way… well, kind of.  One war in 10+ years is great by recent American standards)
  3. She was the first woman to attain such a rank, but was hardly cosy with the women’s lib movement (see: ultra-conservative).
  4. I spent 3 years in the UK and had a hard time finding anyone with a kind word to say about her… but then again, she got re-elected several times.
  5. She could be credited both with destroying much of what Britain once was, and saving it from being much less than it is now.  There is no telling what the UK would be like now if it hadn’t been for her.

So there you have it – a historian restored!   R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher.

11 comments on “Confessions of a History Major

  1. aFrankAngle
    April 8, 2013

    Nothing like a history major to get the record straight. 😉 … The flashback today about her life were interesting.

    • abtwixt
      April 9, 2013

      Lol, that’s what I’m here for! 😉 This wouldn’t be the first time I learned more about a person upon their death than during their life. Some people think it’s unfair, but I think it’s a great tradition to widely celebrate one’s life at its end.

  2. Randel
    April 8, 2013

    I was just graduating from college then and remember the PM well. She was a pioneer in making conservatism the governing idealogy even before Reagan who came after her. She began the conservative movement which has since ruled American and British foregin policy, use of military force on the defense or offense to foster Western ideas and needs. Jimmy Carter who was President then used the Christian values foreign policy approach of negotiating with the Russians who invaded Afghanistan and the Iranian government to free our diplomatic hostages. Carter took the Jesus road first. I admire him for that. Because it did not work, politics both American and British threw Carter and that moral approach to foreign policy into the dust bins. We now have Presidents who use force as needed and without much trouble in foreign policy. That is the Thatcher-Reagan legacy. Yes, she was an important world history person.

    • abtwixt
      April 9, 2013

      Great info and perspective — thanks for sharing! Yes, sadly Carter is another one of those who falls in my abyss of lack-of-knowledge…. a particular crime as I grew up in GA! Thanks for filling me in 🙂

  3. Randel
    April 8, 2013

    And President Obama [a Democrat] continues the tradition with the war on Afghanistan that he ramped up in 2009. History professors 50 years from now will have their say on the 1978 to 2013 approach to American and British foreign policy. I pray tell that we are on the correct path, that will lead to more prosperity and peace for ALL folks down the road, and that we are just in a thicket right now.

    • abtwixt
      April 9, 2013

      I can only hope you’re right… as in, that it all ends this year. It seems that Europe has, for the most part, had their fill of war. The UK would like to be done with it. But then again, trouble still stirs overseas…. Let us all hope that we can find a way to an enduring time of peace!

  4. gingerfightback
    April 11, 2013

    You may like to know that “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” from the Wizard of Oz is at #10 in our music charts as a tribute to her! No-one has a good word to say about her but she won and that is the most galling part as she destroyed this country.

    • abtwixt
      April 11, 2013

      LOL, that’s pretty much the impression I got when I was over there…. then again, I lived in the North. Mentioning her name could get you an earful. But it makes me wonder — who kept re-electing her? Have they all died off? Repented? Fled the country?

      • gingerfightback
        April 11, 2013

        She was very lucky! Rarely mentioned – opposition splits, Falklands War whixch gave her huge momentum (but before this her disastrous policies had made her deeply unpopular) – she pandered to Murdoch allowing him to dominate the print media – it goes on and on – I remember the day she left office – it was announced on the London Underground and people were cheering then! I honestly think that the country has moved on now and the Tories face the same issues as the Republicans in terms of a right wing rump but a much more liberal and cosmopolitan society. They will struggle in future years. Let’s hope so!

        • abtwixt
          April 11, 2013

          Awesome — thanks for filling me in!! Just imagining a car of Underground travellers cheering for anything without the aid of alcohol goes far to illustrate just how greatly disliked she was!

          • gingerfightback
            April 11, 2013

            My Brother in law is a fan – he is a fool of enormous proportion!

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2013 by in Current Events, History and tagged , , , .
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