Here’s biographer Claire Berlinski on Margaret Thatcher:
Almost to a man, or in this case a woman, the historical figures who matter have had the ability to recognize forces accumulating that others either ignore or do not see; and when given power, they have the capacity to master them. Thatcher was among these historical figures. She did not accumulate power for its own sake; she exercised it to pursue certain aims. She perceived accurately that Britain was in decline, and she understood that unless the decline were reversed, it would soon be irreversible. It was a singular judgment, one not widely made. Socialism was advancing in Britain. She halted it, proving at once that it could be done, that a single figure could do it, and that a woman could be that single figure.
My title, by the way, is an alteration of the title of one of the better George Washington biographies, The Indispensable Man, by James Flexner. But my sense is Washington’s indispensability was not of the same sort as Thatcher’s, or of Churchill’s, the man Berlinski is clearly referring to here. Thatcher and Churchill became indispensable to their nation because they were willing and able to work against the predominant grain of public, and especially elite, opinion, and at the cost of generating much friction and of incurring much vilification. I’m not sure Washington’s character would have permitted that; his character was too good to lead Britain of the 30s through 50s or of the 70s through 90s, or to lead any modern liberal democratic nation, including the one he is the father of.
Or what leader(s) should Thatcher be compared to?