Iron Lady

The recent death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has given rise to a spate of articles about the Iron Lady’s legacy. This famous nickname was first given to her by the Soviet army magazine Red Star in 1976. While Thatcher herself adopted it as a compliment about the strength of her leadership, it was clearly not meant as one – the writer was accusing her of trying to revive the cold war. The implicit parallel with the name chosen by a former Soviet leader, Stalin (literally “man of steel”), was also less than flattering. Several women in power have been given the title Iron Lady since, including Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, and Julia Gillard – who will be hoping that the sobriquet doesn’t mean she will share Thatcher’s fate of being ousted by her own party. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright even got upgraded when she became known as Titanium Lady. However, it is still Thatcher who is most irrevocably connected to the name, as the 2011 film based on her life demonstrated. Soon after her demise, a piece of graffiti appeared on a wall in Belfast: “Iron Lady? Rust in Peace”.

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