MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Margaret Thatcher, “The Iron Lady” of Great Britain died on Monday, April 8th at the age of 87. Her family says she died peacefully after a stroke Monday morning. Thatcher was one of the truly towering figures of the last century — and her legacy and ideas are still evident in Wisconsin.
When Thatcher walked into Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel in 2000. She gave a speech no one in attendance will forget — delivering the keynote address at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s annual health care dinner.
Mike Bolger was the Medical College’s president at the time at sat next to Thatcher for an hour as they enjoyed filet mignon and conversation.
“She was absolutely delightful. It was a wonderful evening with her. She walked in a room and you knew she was there. She was my dinner companion, and I had a delightful conversation with her. She’s very charming and witty, very strong-minded woman,” Bolger said.
The conversation she started on the world stage continues in Wisconsin today, according to UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs, Mordecai Lee.
“In a sense, Margaret Thatcher started something in politics that’s still reverberating, and reaching Wisconsin and valid in Wisconsin. She came from a background of politics that included not compromising, being tough, being hard-nosed,” Lee said.
Several national publications have made the comparison between Thatcher and Gov. Scott Walker.
In the mid-1980s, Thatcher stood firm in a showdown with the Coal Miners Union and broke a strike. Some see a comparison to the collective bargaining standoff in Wisconsin. Professor Lee sees a direct line from Thatcher to Walker.
“I think the kind of approach to politics that Scott Walker brings is very reminiscent of the pioneering work that Margaret Thatcher did,” Lee said.
During Thatcher’s visit to Milwaukee, she told the president of the Medical College that she thought Milwaukee was a very clean and well-organized city, and also found the people to be friendly.