By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister, who died today at 87 (see related story), is best remembered by Britain’s honorary consul to Philadelphia by the label President Reagan gave her at the height of her power.
It wasn’t “The Iron Lady” (the nickname she was most famous for), but he says it also sums up her decisive, authoritative style of leadership.
Oliver Franklin is a US citizen but is the point of contact, locally, for the region’s 15,000 British expatriates. They are not all fans of Mrs. Thatcher, who, though elected to the longest term ever as prime minister — was a polarizing figure.
Franklin attributes that to a blunt style that, nonetheless, also won her a large number of fans, including Ronald Reagan.
“She was very belligerent in her language in order to get her point across,” Franklin recalls, “prompting President Reagan, who was her very good friend, to say she was ‘the only man in Britain.’ ”
But fan or not, local British subjects say her passing marks the end of an era. Howard Silverstone of Haddonfield, NJ says there may never be another like her.
“Se did what she had to do, there’s no denying that. If she wasn’t an effective leader, she wouldn’t have been in power as long as she was,” Silverstone tells KYW Newsradio.
He says she deserves a state funeral — an honor not usually granted to English politicians.