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The girl from Grantham

April 13, 2013

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.