“We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.”
Margaret Thatcher, who died on April 8 at the age of 87. She was the first woman to become prime minister of Britain and the first to lead a major Western power in modern times. She led her Conservative Party to three straight election victories and held office for 11 years – May 1979 to November 1990 – longer than any other British politician in the 20th century.
By the time Mrs. Thatcher left office, the principles known as Thatcherism – the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression – had won many supporters. Even some of her strongest critics accorded her a grudging respect.
At home, Mrs. Thatcher’s political successes were decisive. She broke the power of the labor unions and forced the Labour Party to abandon its commitment to nationalized industry, redefine the role of the welfare state and accept the importance of the free market.
Watch an excerpt from Margaret Thatcher’s last House of Commons Speech on November 22, 1990: