Comparative Politics: Margaret Thatcher vs. Vladimir Putin

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Ayaz Husain
Comparative Politics


The United Kingdom and Russia both have long illustrious histories. They both have played a magnanimous role in shaping the world, both good and bad. Instead of looking at their impacts on the world, we will examine one leader of each country and their impacts on their respective countries. For the United Kingdom I will dissect the “Iron Lady”, Margaret Thatcher, and everything she did for her country, and the Russian reformer I will focus on is Vladimir Putin.  They both played a huge part in molding their countries into the world superpowers that they are today. Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham Lincolnshire, her father was a local grocery store owner and was also very involved in local politics and the local Methodist church. She first got involved in politics in college at Oxford when she joined the Conservative Association at Oxford. She came from humble beginnings, which made it astounding when she did eventually become Prime Minister not to mention the fact that she was the first female prime minister. Vladimir Putin was born in what is now Saint Petersburg Russia. His father was a conscript in the Soviet navy and worked in the submarine fleet (1).  Putin attended Leningrad State University where, just like Margaret Thatcher, he first became involved in politics. He joined the communist party of the Soviet Union and stayed a part of the party until it was broken up in 1991. Margaret Thatcher’s ascent to power began with her working as a research chemist in Colchester. While she was there she joined the local Conservative Association and attended their conference in 1948. While there she met the chair of the Dartford Conservative association through a friend whom she attended Oxford with. All the members of the Dartford Association were incredibly impressed with her accomplishments and her vision as up and coming conservative. They were so impressed that they encouraged her to apply to become a candidate of Dartford Conservative party even though she wasn’t on the party’s approved list of candidates. Three years later she was officially adopted as a candidate of the Dartford Conservative party. In 1950 and 1951 she ran for the Parliamentary seat in Dartford that was held by Labour party and lost both time to Norman Dodds. Even though she didn’t win, she narrowed the majority that the Labour party held after each election. She was attracting a decent amount of attention for being the youngest candidate as well as the only female. She was beginning to make a name for herself in the political world. Despite the buzz surrounding her, she was not selected for a seat until she ran for the conservative safe seat of Finchley in 1959. Once she became an MP she immediately began to push her parties agenda. She opposed strong regulation of the economy and frequently spoke out against it. Although she was a rising star in her party, she didn't always agree with the rest of her party members. She was one of the very few conservatives who voted to decriminalize male homosexuality. In 1970 Edward Heath became the prime minister and appointed Thatcher to Secretary of State for Education and Science. Whilst in office she made some unpopular but seemingly necessary cuts to spending in the education sector. She claimed that it was to focus on the actual academic needs of the students.

In 1973 the Heath government was having problems with striking workers and oil embargos and subsequently lost the 1974 election. Heath’s leadership continued to seem weaker and weaker and Thatcher made her intentions known to be the next Conservative party leader. She wasn’t the obvious choice but when she defeated him on the first ballot, he resigned. Then on the second ballot she defeated Heath’s preferred successor and became the party leader in 1975. As the leader of the opposition she demonstrated that she was a capable leader and in 1978 the country experienced multiple strikes...
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