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EmPOWERment Hub March Entry: The Downing Street Years

March 15, 2021

The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher

“The most technically and politically difficult privatization – and the one which went furthest in combining transfer of a public utility to the private sector with radical restructuring – was that of the Electricity Supply Industry.”  True that.

If it wasn’t for The Crown, and a fortuitous trip through a second-hand store, this book probably wouldn’t have caught my eye. Once I cracked it, however, I learned about one of the most remarkable leaders of the last century. Of any field. Of any endeavor. 

The word leader is important here because what we mostly see in politics are managers. Margaret Thatcher was no manager. She was not for jumping in front of popular parades or for eschewing tough decisions. As she once famously stated, “The lady is not for turning.”

In 11 years as Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher tried to shake off the burdens of a growing welfare state, weaned the coal, steel, auto and airline industries off subsidies, engaged in a controversial, but successful battle for the Falkland Islands, was bombed by the IRA, remained skeptical of the growing bureaucracy in the EU, goaded President Reagan and the U.S. to ramp up the nuclear deterrent against the Soviet Union until communism fell and, of course, began the world’s first steps towards deregulating a power market. She did so, often – as the only woman in the room.

While her policies and politics are not for everyone, she was true to her principles, pushed for and achieved great change, and thanks to restructuring the UK’s power market, is perhaps the original Women +Power. 

Author: Evan Bahry, Women+Power Board Member & Executive Director, IPPSA