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The girl from Grantham


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Margaret Thatcher has been my profile picture on my Facebook Page for the past 8 years.

I have had emails, requests, and demands from people asking me to take it down, saying “It scares them”, “Are you joking?”, “Are you being ironic?”, “It’s just not funny”.

It is sometimes difficult to separate people who have achieved great things from the terrible things they may also have done. OJ Simpson, Oscar Pistorious, Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher was an iconic woman. Today, where women become icons for having plastic breasts and marrying footballers, Thatcher was an icon for something substantial rather than ephemeral.

Thatcher showed that no matter where you came from, whatever your class or background, you could achieve what you wanted if you worked hard enough. Even if you didn’t look the part, speak the right way, have the right friends, you could still bypass all these obstacles and achieve the highest levels of success.

The odds were stacked against her. She was the greengrocer’s daughter from Grantham that made it to a position where she controlled our country and every man in it.  She had gone where no woman had gone before. Or after. There was no nepotism. No friends from Eton, no family descendants of a King or Queen, nobody to give her a leg up - it was just one woman and her determination.

I admire Margaret Thatcher’s achievements. She never used her sexuality to get where she did.  She never slept her way to the top, she never wore short skirts, low cut tops, talked in a seductive manner or flirted with fellow cabinet ministers, and she could have if she wanted to, there were enough sleazy repressed Tory men that would have agreed to a good spanking from Thatcher, even if it was just to say it happened.

She just worked hard and had tremendous self-belief, even though no one could see her in the role.

What made her such a great woman is that she transcended being a woman.  She said what she meant and meant what she said; she didn’t just chat about things as women supposedly do, she actually did things. She became so enduring and so powerful that you forgot this was a woman. She just became Thatcher.

Thatcher, who didn’t just lead Great Britain for 11 years, gather enemies everywhere she went, survive an assassination attempt by the IRA and then turn up for work at 9.30 on the dot, the following morning – I can’t make it to work at 9.30 even when no one’s tried to blow me up the night before – but also a wife and a mother who ran the country on four hours of sleep a night. She was married to Sir Dennis Thatcher for 52 years, longevity unheard of these days. Her ideology being, “If I can do, it all women can do it”. She was a brave woman.

But not a feminist, she did nothing for women; she didn’t even like women. She broke the glass ceiling, but once it was smashed, it was smashed and in her eyes glass only needs to be smashed once, and as long as it was her doing the crushing, that’s all that mattered.

She said, “People should be individuals. All people are unequal and everyone has the right to be unequal”. Yet, the working people who got on buses and clocked in and out, who she deemed as “failures” were smashed to smithereens so they had nothing left. She then took the power away from the Unions so these people had no one to fight their corner.

I grew up in working class Birmingham. I was four years old when Thatcher became Prime Minister. I was a child of Thatcher – an unhappy one. My parents never voted for her. EVER.

I hated Thatcher and everything she stood for. I had an impoverished childhood because of her.  They were unhappy days of fighting and striking. The Handsworth Riots born out of unemployment, boredom, and extreme poverty.  Stealing from the poor and selling to the rich.

She didn’t really care what people thought of her, another unwomanly characteristic. If there’s one thing worse than being hated, it’s being forgotten. Thatcher will never be forgotten.

Margaret Thatcher did a lot for Margaret Thatcher. The girl from Grantham that eventually died at The Ritz Hotel.  Where she came from and what she achieved is incredible.

All women must learn something from Margaret Thatcher. You don’t have to be the best at what you do, but with determination and discipline, you can be the most memorable.


The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Author Image

Shazia Mirza is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website. Follow her on Twitter @shaziamirza1.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (17) Closed

Talha Apr 13, 2013 10:18am
In our world of male dominance, it is really good to appreciate women making to the top on their own. But I think we should be careful in our appreciations when it comes to politics. For, the politics effects the lives of many, especially the common people. And she fails miserably on this score.
Reality Check Apr 13, 2013 10:29am
Give me a break! You like Margaret Thatcher only because she blazed the trail for women in society?On the contrary she didn't do anything of that sort. Women in general never got a leeway in society cause of her being as prime minister. She introduced no reforms whatsoever to encourage assimilation and equal treatment for women in the work force. Leave the society alone for a moment and concentrate on the field of politics where her legacy remains. Exactly how much easier has it been for women to access the corridors of power because of Thatcher's example? Next to none. The only women minister in the current Conservative led government is a token minister for her gender and has little to no say in her party affairs. The writer is right when she says Margaret Thatcher got to where she got through determination and hard work but she also forgo her womanhood. She was a right wing who acted exactly like an old and ruthless Englishman would do in her place. This is the reason why she was so easily accepted by her sexist peers because she went above and beyond their expectations to act like a man to them. There was nothing individualistic about her actions as a woman, just raw cunning of a collective right wing parliament.
Steve Morris Apr 13, 2013 11:05am
Not just women, but everyone can learn from her story.
sabila khan Apr 13, 2013 11:59am
i'm glad you wrote you hated her politics because she was respoinsible for the destruction of great industrial cities of england. thousands of mirpuris lost their livilihood because of her.
Rihat Apr 13, 2013 12:03pm
Margret Thatcher - Exactly the kind of "no-nonsense" leader Pakistan needs at this hour and not for the faint-hearted either. Long live the legend of the Iron Lady.
Guest63 Apr 13, 2013 12:43pm
Long live her famous saying " turn if you want , this lady ain't for turning "
Alia Ali Apr 13, 2013 03:17pm
Yeah, I suppose she stands as an example that woman can be as tyrannical as men. We needed that like we need the plague.
GJC Apr 13, 2013 05:50pm
I am disappointed that Dawn, apparently a most preeminent English daily in Pakistan, often publishes typical, run-of-the-mill opinion pieces, many of them by immigrants of Pakistani origin living in Europe and North America. More often than not these articles are utterly superficial, even childish, and therefore they benefit little, if at all, the diligent readers of Dawn, who look for deep scholarship in writing, whatever the topic.
farmerdr Apr 13, 2013 06:40pm
Whatever her bad points and the cons of her leadership (I as an NHS hospital doctor hated her policies) she dragged Britain kicking and screaming back from becoming an almost bankrupt insignificant country to a semblance of national pride and prosperity,
wahid Apr 13, 2013 10:38pm
There must be reality check about the person written about......the reality was very different from the writers perception of her role model.....her politics were cruel and destroyed the lives of millions and sold the family silver to help her rich supporters and then boast of increased share ownership!! She was a cunning and shrewd woman who never stopped working from promoting herself and her party at the expense of working classes.
umesh bhagwat Apr 13, 2013 11:02pm
she believed in work,work and more work!
UK First Apr 14, 2013 06:31am
I think after becoming redundant these Mirpuris started their own business & becoming rich by running their own business.
Shafi Apr 14, 2013 08:48am
I think you are dearly missing abbastoronto et al contributions.
Ash Apr 14, 2013 11:43am
She would never have used aint.
xhizer Apr 14, 2013 01:41pm
So, she was adored & despised in equal measure. Let's try to objectively recall certain facts (whether we agree with her or not). Britain was described as the "Sick Man of Europe" before she became PM. Inflation was in double digits, the Unions had the country to its knees. Unions are necessary but their power has to be curbed ( did anyone know that in a unionized workplace, you HAD to become Union member whether you wanted to or not?). Innumerable people were given a chance to own their own homes (anything wrong with that?) The economy improved significantly, over time. Was she perfect? far from it. She did however, change the face of Britain forever. Without Labour changing their extremist left wing policies, they became unelectable & only won when they changed tack & became centrist (anyone care to comment on this alone?). Can anyone explain why, if she was so terrible, she won not one, but THREE successive elections? were the ballots rigged?!!!! Margaret Thatcher, RIP. Amen!
Ash Apr 14, 2013 01:54pm
And in the end it was her own party that stabbed her in the back. They knew they would never win another election with her in the driving seat.
Milind Apr 15, 2013 06:05am
Totally agree... . Indira Gandhi did exactly the opposite here in India. She nationalised all the banks, creating sinecures, breeding inefficiency through job security, perpetrating license raj under vague socialist policies, introduced populist measures. This led to wastage of resources, stagnation, unproductivity, lack of competition, lack of innovation. In comparison Thatcher comes across as a person who took bold but unpopular decisions for the benefit of the country. Damn if you do it, damn if you don't.