Tyndmyr wrote:Not being up on UK politics, I was given to understand that her handling of the Falklands was a big part of her fame. Do her detractors admit that was a good thing, or do they also take issue with it? While it isn't the same as fighting off Hitler, exactly, repelling invaders is the sort of thing that tends to make one get held up as a hero.
Very few people think that Britain should have handed over the Falklands in 1982 in response to the invasion, though some do take issue with the decision to sink the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano
while it was outside the exclusion zone that Britain had declared around the islands, and steaming away from them.
On the other hand, I have heard people blame Thatcher for the invasion in the first place. Argentina had made noises towards trying to invade the Falklands in 1977 during James Callaghan's ministry, but backed down when he sent a naval task force
. Thatcher's government had made severe cuts to the Royal Navy- just before the invasion, they had announced the withdrawal of HMS Endurance which was the only permanent British naval presence in the area. It had also been announced that HMS Invincible, an aircraft carrier that had just been completed and played a key role in the war, would be sold to Australia. It has been said, probably correctly, that had Argentina waited another year or two Britain might not have been able to take the islands back- at least not without a humiliating amount of US help.
They had also "downgraded" the islanders' British citizenship as a side-effect of an immigration law. The combination of these actions made it seem like Britain might not respond to an invasion. While I don't think the Thatcher government deliberately caused the war in order to get votes, their handling of the conflict certainly wasn't exemplary. They certainly did claim it as a success for them- Thatcher even took the salute at the victory parade, which is normally reserved for the monarch. It has been given as a reason for their victory in the 1983 general election. On the other hand, Labour leader Michael Foot's manifesto has been described as the "longest suicide note in history".