I know that a lot of people I respect cheering goodbye to Thatcher. I know that for those on the left, the damage inflicted was unforgivable And I know that Thatcher was not a feminist icon – rather than taking the chance to lead the way, she chose instead to argue that women were rubbish, but she was exceptional.
But my life, and my feminism have been hugely affected and inspired by Thatcher, and I’m grateful for that.
I was born just two weeks after Thatcher was elected. I lived my entire childhood with a female Prime Minister. I realised at 11 and a half that my world was going to change. That we were going to have a man as Prime Minister. I remember so clearly, writing in my diary a rationale about all the ways I thought a man as Prime Minister was a really bad idea.
Thatcher was an inspiration. I grew up with a strong belief that I could do anything, be anything. I knew that my Mum had had to make sacrifices to have a family. But I could do anything – look at Thatcher. I know the reality was different. That actually Thatcher had received the keys to the executive bathroom, but was not only closing the door behind her, she was nailing it shut. But as a child, she represented possibility. A woman on the world stage – as important as Reagan and Gorbachev.
Since then, women have fallen out of sight in British politics. As a child, I looked up to Thatcher – the Iron Lady, the one with the Poll Tax, and Edwina Curry, the one with the eggs. And now for female politicians (if the papers are to be believed) we have the one with the shoes and the one with the cleavage.
How could I have been anything but inspired by the women leading our country, being taken seriously as politicians, being claimed as a product of the finest Universities.
I know that I have some seriously rose-tinted spectacles on here. I know that actually, if I’d been just a little bit older, I would probably have been joining in the cheers at her downfall. But just for now, for me, personally, I want to tip my hat.
To a woman that inspired me, that taught me that I really could do anything, become anything. That there wasn’t an opportunity beyond my reach. That I could not be held back by my gender.
Thank you Mrs Thatcher.