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KU Professor of Modern British History Examines Margaret Thatcher’s Political Career

 

ESU members and guests attended a special lecture by the distinguished University of Kansas Professor of Modern British History, Dr. Victor Bailey on December 4, 2013.  His lecture topic concerned Margaret Thatcher's political career from her appointment as leader of the Conservative Party to her years as the first female and longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century.  It was a fascinating retrospective of one of the most remarkable and controversial Prime Ministers of all time. 

When Margaret Thatcher died on April 8 this year, the disagreements over her funeral arrangements vividly demonstrated that she divided and polarized opinion as much in death as she had in life.  This is perhaps a fitting legacy for someone who loathed the concept of consensus, and who seemed to relish making enemies more than making friends.

Professor Bailey also looked at Thatcher's efforts to transform Britain's ailing economy, roll back the frontiers of the state, bring trade unionism within the rule of law, and recover the Falkland Islands.

"Even though they were members of different political parties," Dr. Bailey said, "Thatcher was the single greatest influence on her successor, Tony Blair, who declined to indulge trade unions or advocate for a return to nationalized state industries."

In his presentation, Bailey addressed these questions: What was Thatcherism?  Was it good or bad for Britain? How will Margaret Thatcher be rated as a prime minister?

A native of Yorkshire, England, Dr. Bailey is director of the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas and the author of This Rash Act: Suicide Across the Life Cycle in the Victorian City; Policing and Punishment in Nineteenth Century Britain; and Delinquency and Citizenship: Reclaiming the Young Offender 1914-1948. He has been awarded the Walter D. Love Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies for best article in British history by a North American scholar and a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

This was a free lecture held at the Central Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.  At the conclusion of the lecture, ESU members attended a private reception for Dr. Bailey and were able to visit with him one on one.  It was a fascinating retrospective delivered by a well-researched and knowledgeable scholar on Prime Minister Thatcher's career.

Photos from the lecture are in this photo album: click here

 

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