Margaret Thatcher Summary

Margaret Thatcher has herself identified her father Alfred Roberts as the single greatest influence on her life, shaping her future political career "He brought me up to believe all the things I do believe and they are the values on which I fought the election" [1] Thatcher received a strict upbringing with a strong emphasis on religion. At the very core of Thatcher's Wesleyan Methodism religion was the idea of personal responsibility to God.

Thatcher would often refer to her religious beliefs in speeches and even attribute elements of the formation of her policies to her beliefs "taking together these key elements from the Old and New Testaments, we gain: a view of the universe, a proper attitude to work, and principles to shape economic and social life. " [2]. Thatcher believed that one's social and religious responsibilities were completely intertwined and it was the duty of the government to "bring out the good in people.

" [3]. She developed this idea further in her speech to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland "the state must never become so great that it effectively removes personal responsibility. " [4] The religious convictions instilled in Thatcher as a child can be related to her struggle during her time in office against socialism.

Thatcher believed that it was necessary for a safety net to exist in society "In our generation, the only way we can ensure that no one is left without sustenance, help or opportunity is to have laws to provide for health and education, pensions for the elderly, succour for the sick and disabled. "[5] Thatcher was less opposed to the idea of socialism itself than the way in which it was achieved.

Socialism posed a major moral dilemma for her as it fundamentally removes freedom and choice from the individual, which for Thatcher was akin to the loss of personal responsibility, which lay at the very core of her religious beliefs. Thatcher saw the idea of choice as the fundamental basis, which underpins the modern Western world, therefore socialism and its lack of choice posed a significant threat to this. Therefore Thatcher, a self confessed "conviction politician" [6] used her life long personal religious beliefs to influence and justify her policy of anti-socialist government.

When she became British Prime Minister, Thatcher put her cherished policies of limiting government control such as returning education, health care, and housing to private control into fruition, thus allowing individuals greater independence from the state while at the same time she crushed institutions such as the Trades Unions, which promoted socialist ideas, therefore it is possible to identity the basis for these economic and social policies of the Conservative government in the 1980's as having their roots in Thatcher's religious upbringing.