NEW YORK, Jan. 7, Reuter: The New York Times praised Margaret Thatcher ‘on Thursday for becoming the longest serving British Prime Minister of the century.

“What’s the secret and the message for other democracies”, the Times asked in an Editorial headlined “Britain’s Woman of the Century”.

“By example and precept, she offers a liberation feeling to millions of Britons shackled by a class system, bullying trade unions and an overprotective welfare state”, it said.

“For ordinary people she offered hope of home ownership, the chance to pocket more money and, now, to have greater choice of schools”, it added.

Last Sunday, the Conservative leader broke Liberal Herbert Asquith’s record of eight years and 243 days as Premier.

“In foreign affairs, Mrs. Thatcher was willing to send a fleet to the South Atlantic to invade the Falkland Islands and redeem national pride”.

“She also has managed to uphold honor through negotiations in Zimbabwe’s independence settlement, in giving the Irish Republic a role in British ruled Ulster and in securing decent terms for Hong Kong’s reversion to China.

“Further, Mrs. Thatcher was the first Western leader to size up Mikhail Gorbachev as someone the West could deal with”.

The newspaper tempered its praise, however, by noting some of. What it called Thatcher’s good luck and failures.

“Her opposition has been divided, its leadership unimposing and Britain’s winner takes all electoral system gives her a Parliamentary majority only 43 per cent of the vote. And, if southern England has prospered, the rest of Britain has not”, the Editorial said.

“And, victory in the Falklands is tainted by her refusal to negotiate with a democratic Argentina”, it added.

Even so, her record is reassuring evidence that democracies can strike a new balance between opportunity and responsibility.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 15, 1988