Highs and lows of Thatcher’s iron grip on economic policy

The death of Britain's former prime minister Margaret Thatcher has divided supporters and opponents over the import of her legacy, and statistics support the incongruous effect of her economic policies.

The Conservative Party leader wielded a famously heavy hand over fiscal policy, leaving strongly divided opinions of her leadership. These range from the current Prime Minister David Cameron's "extraordinary" to the British National Union of Mineworkers' accusation that it was "fatally flawed".

Immediately after Thatcher gained power in 1979, economic growth plummeted more than 6% to -2%. Growth remained negative for the next two years, but became positive again in 1981. With the exception of one dip in 1984, it remained that way until just before Thatcher resigned.

Despite one massive peak, generally low inflation sustained a 20-year-long property boom. But at the same time, unemployment almost trebled.

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Thalia Holmes
Thalia Holmes

Thalia is a freelance business reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She grew up in Swaziland and lived in the US before returning to South Africa.

She got a cum laude degree in marketing and followed it with another in English literature and psychology before further confusing things by becoming a black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) consultant.

After spending five years hearing the surprised exclamation, "But you're white!", she decided to pursue her latent passion for journalism, and joined the M&G in 2012. 

The next year, she won the Brandhouse Journalist of the Year Award, the Brandhouse Best Online Award and was chosen as one of five finalists from Africa for the German Media Development Award. In 2014, she and a colleague won the Standard Bank Sivukile Multimedia Award. 

She now writes and edits for various publications, but her heart still belongs to the M&G.     

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